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SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2007
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The joy of
summer romance

And the danger of the usual jilt

By Fran Golden
For The Associated Press

Traveling alone to Seattle for a music-inspired vacation several summers ago, Amy Abern, 49, wasn’t thinking about meeting someone. But the weather was warm and there was something in the air.

“On the first night I went to hear this great R&B band. I started dancing by myself and this little blond guy started dancing with me,” said Abern, of Canab, Utah. While he wasn’t really her type — Abern usually goes with the “dark brooding” sort — he had tickets for a Little Feat concert the next night and they agreed to go.

“The chemistry between us just kept going and going and going and you could really feel it. He smiled at me and I smiled back and we started holding hands and went from there,” Abern said.

Ah, as they sing in “Grease”: “Summer lovin’ had me a blast, summer lovin’ happened so fast.”

The summertime affair lasted only the length of Abern’s vacation. But she has no regrets.

“Our seven days sure felt a lot longer, a lot more intense and a lot more real than some of the ‘steady’ relationships I had,” Abern said. “It was a real sweet incident in my life.”

Tender memories

While many a tale has been told about the fun of a “summer fling,” those short-lived romances can also make for tender memories — if both parties go into things with their eyes open, and their hearts honest.

Paige Bodtke, 23, of Franklin Lakes, N.J., had a summer romance last year when working a summer job at a caterer’s in Newport, R.I.

Bodtke said she was walking down the street and a guy skateboarded by her and then turned around and skateboarded by her again.

“I said, ‘What, are you lost?’ ” Bodtke recalled. And that question was all it took for them to start dating for the summer.

Bodtke said she learned to take a summer relationship for what it was, nothing more and nothing less.

“Make sure your biggest goal is to have fun and as soon as you’re done having fun, stop doing it,” Bodtke said. “If it starts causing stress in your life it totally defeats the whole purpose of the relationship, or non-relationship,” Bodtke said.

Relationship expert Toni Coleman agreed.

“It’s kind of a very special time of year when we feel a license to let go and shed a lot of stuff we worry about and carry with us other times of year,” Coleman said. “You let your hair down and let yourself go wild. There’s that kind of energy.”

But she said summer loving also comes with a sense of anonymity and doesn’t necessarily lead to commitment. “There’s a sense of ‘I’m not going to see these people again. I’m away from work; away from my usual crowd. Why not experiment?’ ” Coleman explained.

Of course, that’s all the more reason to keep your feet on the ground.

“Some of these (summer relationships) actually turn into something and I’ve seen that when people really make a connection and it works,” Coleman said. “But very often someone gets hurt; someone is left with the sense, ‘Gee, I wish it was more.’ ”

Coleman herself met her husband some 21 years ago, when they were both part of a summer house-share on the Eastern Shore in Delaware.

“And there he was and it was not on my mind that weekend at all, to say the least. I was just looking for a weekend with friends,” Coleman said. “The first night we were up half the night talking.”

Newlyweds Stephanie and Sean Lyons met as teenagers while working at a summer camp in Marblehead, Mass. The couple, who now live in Beverly, Mass., didn’t hit it off that first summer, but the camp bond and camp crowd kept them together.

Stephanie, 24, said she saw many camp relationships turn out badly. “Our joke at the beginning of each summer was who was going to hook up with whom,” she said.

But she said her camp connection with Sean certainly brought them together.

“By the time I was in college and he had graduated college our opinions changed,” Stephanie said. “Ours is kind of like the summer romance gone wrong except 41/2 years later we got married!”

Another thing to watch for: The same feeling of freedom can also give some the idea that they have a license to lie. For instance, your summer partner might forget to mention details like whether he is in another relationship.

Maria Liberati, 40, a former model and now cookbook author, met her future husband on a summer trip to Italy, but said she entered the relationship with eyes wide open, and with her family knowing his family.

“Don’t rush into things and be really careful until you have a better idea of who you’re getting involved with, unless what you really want is a short-term thing,” Liberati advised. “In these relationships they can tell you anything and everything.”

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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