Does “Summer Love” Exist? Science and Literature Have an Answer
Summer, it seems, really is the best possible time to unleash a passionate love.
Surely many of us, if not most, easily understand the notion of “summer love.” For many reasons and through multiple channels, the idea has entered slowly and indelibly into our collective consciousness. In film, music, television, and earlier expressions, some of them literary, pictorial or through other creative avenues, summers saw the fair flowering of a love of the moment, and perhaps more than this, of passion.
Unlike the spring, which gives us time to shake off the stiffness of the limbs left by the winter cold, summer is rather more a time of ecstasy, when temperatures rise and then peak, and this raises in turn the heat of the body.
In the Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea, for example, is an allusion to the time of heatwaves (previously the hottest time of the year), and there’s a moment when the poem arrives at this scene:
Ardent youth and the plows
Comb the land plowed before,
Poorly conducted, if not dragged,
By slow oxen which like their owner wander;
With no keeper to call them, the cattle
Ignore the crunching resonance
Of the waves, if instead of the poor farmer
The zephyr hisses not, nor crackles nor the oak.
The dog is silent at night, and asleep by day,
And lies from hill to hill and shadow to shadow.
The livestock bleat; and by the wretched bleating
Is the night wolf born from the shadows.
It feeds up — and, fierce, dampens the leaves
With the blood from one animal while the others pace.
Oh, Love, revoke the whistles, or make its owner,
Follow the silence and sleep of the dog!
Even without being familiar with Luis de Gongora’s Baroque poetry, the taut passivity of summer is understood here. Intense heat can make everything seem inactive and the protagonists of the moment await the slightest provocation to vent their impetuousness. “Ardent youth,” says Gongora, and it’s like the ardor, paradoxically, of not trying to extinguish, but rather to invigorate, yet more loving.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Shakespeare was no stranger to the significance of summer as the season of the vehemence of the passions.
In modern times, it’s interesting to note how this idea has adapted to new cycles of life, dominated mainly by occupations and work, but all within the framework of which summer is but a parenthesis, vacation time from a daily routine and the option of a few days or weeks to enjoy a break.
Perhaps this is the reason, for these exceptional conditions, that a “summer love” is possible; an affair that lasts no longer than the time spent at the seaside before returning to the city and our apartments of tens of square meters. Transience is the nature of this passion.
Recently, Live Science published a blog entry on the passion that seems to emerge especially at this time of year. From a scientific perspective, there seems to be evidence that supports the idea that a stimulation of sexual attraction or need occurs during the summer, and that this is especially psychological.
Following the behaviors of couples observed on Facebook, some trends indicate that between May and August the number of breakups for those between ages 25 and 45 goes up, a bit like the heat of the summer forces the hands of those who want the freedom to find someone new.
Perhaps the evidence is not as strong as we might like. But this could be due to the very nature of summer, which makes the unpredictability of decisions into something on which we’ll take a chance.
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