Summer loving: Does it really happen faster?

Summer loving: Does it really happen faster?
Credit: Ugo Realfonzo / The Brussels Times

"Summer loving, happened so fast." The lyrics to the Grease hit are known around the world, but is it just a catchy tune or do those words ring true? One Belgian researcher explored the complexities of attraction in different seasons.

Summertime certainly set the scene for the romance of Grease lead characters Danny and Sandy and Google searches for romantic and sexually-oriented topics rise with temperatures. However, the science on the exact effect that summer has on amorous relationships is unclear.

"There is no research that shows that people start a relationship more quickly during the summer," said psychologist and UGent researcher Laura Sels, who works in the Family Lab of the department Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology and studies relationships.

Good things come in threes

To understand whether the warmer weather plays a role in people feeling butterflies in their stomachs, knowing how falling in love works is an important starting point. There are three key elements that play a pivotal role in pulling partners together.

"First of all, it's about attraction and the so-called 'reciprocity of liking'," Sels explained. "If you know that someone likes you, you are going to like them more anyway. That makes you feel comfortable because you know you are accepted by that other person."

Second is similarity: how much does the other person look, think and act like you? "This is especially important at the beginning of romantic relationships." However, similarity does not contribute to relationship satisfaction.

Alongside these two elements, being ready for a relationship or something more serious is another key factor. Together, these factors can be quite persuasive, but there is little evidence to indicate that they should be any stronger in summer.

Seasonal factor

Familiarity between two people is also important to take into account. "The more often you see someone, the more you will like that person. That's why relationships or romances often develop in the workplace," Sels said.

This may be more susceptible to seasonal factors, as people are more likely to spend time outdoors and engage in social activities where they also meet new people and are willing to spend more time with people (although this is subjective and depends on the person).

The availability of potential partners also increases as a result of the rise in social activities. "The more people you meet, the more likely it is that you will find someone you click with," Sels said.

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Sels adds that people are also said to be more relaxed in summer, which "might make them more open to falling in love." However, she stressed that it remains speculation whether this has a clear impact on how people fall in love and it is difficult to substantiate these claims through science.

Those worrying about the lines at the end of the Grease song, where Sandy exclaims that the love felt faded with summer, will be relieved to hear that this is also unsubstantiated, with love not corrolated to temperature.

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