Summer love is timeless. It can happen at 14, and I bet it can happen at 84, just as sweetly and easily. Just as movies depict it, this sort of seasonal romance is all groping, sticky popsicle hands, fresh cut grass in undergarments, and exhilarating night swims — usually minus the bathing suit. And, like in the sappiest of flicks, it can come on like a fever, scratching at your subconscious, and making your skin so sensitive to the touch you want to scream. Thinking of the object of your affection is like the drone of a bee buzzing against a screened window — intrusively invading your mind, distracting you from the tasks of regular life. Summer love is a pandemic from June to September — a modern cultural phenomenon.

I have fallen down the K-hole of summer love at several ages (most ending in teen), and it has come in several forms: an obsessive barely-requited crush that stretched over so many summers that it will never feel truly over; the goofy, secret affair that would have felt dirty (the bad kind) if it occurred in any other season; and the heart-wrenching true love magic that slowly turned into my lasting long term relationship. Each is precious to me, even if my former summer lovers have faded to sepia tones in my mind.

What is it about falling in love this time of year that makes the supposed kismet connection between two people so different? Maybe it’s the heat that stirs up the wild in us, making everything from sex, fighting, drinking to long late nights, feel so much better. The slowed pace of summer hours (for lucky office folk), a lazy setting sun, and long weekends by the water just leave so much more time for kissing on a picnic blanket.

Then comes the issue of what happens after temperatures cool and daylight hours wane; can summer love survive the change of seasons? Feeling biased based on the fact that I am living under the same roof as a former summer love, I asked around to see if people thought summer love had lasting power or if it was by nature short and sweet. The tally came back pretty lopsided. The weighing majority, as you can see, were all singing bye-bye summer love.

The general consensus was that this particular type of love thrives outdoors, and when dragged inside to sit by fires and read books under blankets, it dies of suffocation. In other words, when carefree summer fun is no longer an option, some realize having anything more than spurts of a “relationship” with their new girl or guy is bleaker than bearing the winter weather alone. In the polled group’s experience, it would seem some love lives exclusively on rooftop patios with crowds of people, and in the moments following pool hopping after hours.

On the other hand, in spite of popular thought during the non-summer months, some love can adapt, layer itself in a scarf, tights, and a leather jacket. It can go from burst of activity to intimate conversation. It’s a coin toss. It’s precisely this prospect of potential — without the weight of forever — that makes summer love irresistible year after year. And so I conclude, that when it comes right down to it, there is never anything but winners in the game of summer love. My advice to any currently contemplating a fling: ditch the pros and cons list and dive in — the water is warm.