This post was written for a Huffpost Live Sex on Campus segment on summer love.
The sexy Canadian hippie novelist (SCHN for short), slim hips slipping out of his American-flag-print boxer shorts, wanted to make sweet love to me in a hostel shower in Milan.
Okay—he was a douchebag.
But a hot douchebag. A hot douchebag on a Eurotrip. A hot douchebag on a Eurotrip who laughed at all my jokes.
We sat up all night talking in the hostel kitchen. I was a travel writer on a deadline; he was working on a novel, which in practice seemed to mean fucking women in hostel bunk beds while smoking inordinate amounts of weed.
Yeah, I was tempted.
Only problem: I was kind-of-sort-of-maybe-we-were-on-a-break-but-really-into-him in a thing.
And there was Sexy Canadian Hippie Novelist, all six wiry, stoned feet of him, slinking into the bathroom with a condom dangling from his fingers, steam rolling along the hall. It had been a couple months and my kind-of-sort-of-maybe-we-were-on-a-break boyfriend was back in Boston. I loved my boyfriend-type-person. I missed my boyfriend-type-person.
But here was the question: What were we?
Here’s the respect that makes calamity of so long summer hookup opportunities.
Being in college is weird, not only because in four years you have more sex in extra-long twin beds than anyone should ever have in their entire lives, but also because the academic-year schedule is a prime cause of drama in love.
You come back to school in the fall, cheeks flushed, maybe with a new pair of heels, and very rose-colored summer glasses makes that kid who might have annoyed you in lecture just three months before awfully tempting. Stress picks up during midterms; ebbs again; and then climaxes during finals. And then—after the highest note of all—everyone flees, down the street or to far corners of the globe, for summer.
As with academics, so with love. Many a sex-drama sich in my college experience has catapulted to epic levels of intrigue because of the ace timing of the academic calendar.
Macked on your windowseat wearing only a trenchcoat and heels after the semesterly naked run and maybe you want to hang out tomorrow? Sorry, baby – I’ve got a Megabus ticket to New Jersey.
Confessed my longstanding crush on you before your stat final? Whoops. Okay, bye! Write me a letter!
For me and my kind-of-sort-of-boyfriend, summer meant a “break”—though whether that break meant I was allowed to be fucking Canadian cuties in hostel showers, I didn’t know.
Relationship negotiations can be tricky as fuck. This leaves us with a question: What’s a summer-bound human with genitals involved in a little something-something to do?
For advice, I turn to my Expert Lady panel, aka two of my friends who happen to be sitting near me in a café as I write this.
Me: Hey Expert Lady Panel, what do you do with your boo over the summer?
Expert Lady One: Drop them like it’s hot. No, wait – take them to a tropical island and have sex with them all day.
Expert Lady Two: Given unlimited resources? Take them to a tropical island and have sex with them all day. No, wait, tropical islands sound muggy. Have sex with them in the woods. In a canoe. Yeah, I did that.
Okay, so my Expert Lady Panel consists exclusively of oversexed smart-asses.
Pending access to tropical islands, I’m going to be boring and give the advice I basically always give whenever it comes to sex or love – really bro, you just gotta talk about it.
Summer break can be an excuse to fall off the face of the earth and your lover’s Facebook feed without so much as a “Peace, bitch!”, showing up again on campus in September with seven different hickies on your neck and a tropical glow (#JerseyShore), looking everywhere but in your former lover’s eyes in the dining hall line.
It can also be an opportunity to be a mature and responsible adult human!
Having DTR (Grandma: that means “define the relationship”) conversations is tough, but summer gives us an opportunity to have these sometimes-awkward conversations in an active way. Because maturity!
Been coffee-dating a fresh cutie, and wondering whether they, too, want things to get a little vaginal? Impending three-months separation can be just the thing to embolden you: “So, summer’s coming. Wanna go have coffee in my room/maybe touch each other?”
Been eying a radical gal who will be in the same city as you for summer break? Here’s your chance: “What are you doing in New York over the summer? Internship? Me?”
In an exclusive sich with a boo you’re just not feeling anymore?: “Listen, I really like and respect you, but I think it would be really healthy for us to take some time over the summer to sort our feelings out. Also, I’m going to San Francisco. Lesbians!”
With someone you think may be the love of your life and can’t bear the idea of them ever touching anyone else’s breasts ever again?: “Hi yeah, other people, over the summer – can we not? Thoughts? Marry me.”
Okay, so I don’t recommend you actually follow my scripts, unless you’re hooking up with me, in which case oh yes baby, quote me at myself.
Point is: Communication in relationships—especially sexual relationships!—is hard. But it’s also literally the most important thing you can do. Summer presents a natural break, giving you time to collect your thoughts, reevaluate your feelings, work on your tan, and Tinder-match with that boy from your hometown who smacked your ass on the bus in seventh grade. I have never done this.
As for me: Ultimately, in a fit of romantic faith to my far-flung American love—and a fit of disdain for SCHN’s aesthetic—I decided not to get wet and slippery (pun!) with the Canadian. And when I got back to school in the fall, kind-of-sort-of-boyfriend became yes-totally-BOYFRIEND-boyfriend.
So take advantage of summer as an opportunity to figure out your sich. The worst thing you can do is to end the year with your status ambiguous.
And who knows? You might even end up missing your boo so much you turn down a sexy douchebag in patriotic boxer shorts.
Now that’s commitment.