“Summer lovin’ had me a blast…Summer lovin’ happened so fast
I met a girl crazy for me…I met a boy cute as can be
Summer days driftin’ away….Ah, oh, those summer nights”
“Summer Nights” from Grease
This hit from the musical, Grease reminds us that summer has always been the perfect time to fall in love. Summer is the season of bikinis, flip flops, endless days filled with sunshine, and bonfires on the beach. In the heat of summer, what happens to our brains and our sex drives? Is there something about wearing less clothes that makes us think of romance and causes our libidos to soar? Pull up a beach chair, make yourself a cool umbrella drink, and let me explain.
The Neuropsychology of Summer Romance
Sunlight Makes Us More Interested in Sex
According to Ashwini Nadkarni, M.D., a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School, sunlight tends to make people more interested in sex because it boosts mood. Dr. Nadkarni explains, “Sunlight has been shown to have an association with serotonin, a key neurotransmitter in the ability to experience pleasure.”
We Spend More Time Socializing and Exercising
Sexologist Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D. says the increased time we spend socializing and exercising in the summer could also lead to a spike in libido. Research from the University of Texas at Austin shows that exercise increases sex drive in pre-menopausal women so much that it will even help women whose sex drives have been lowered by antidepressants. Due to increased time socializing and exercising, we feel sexier and freer, increasing our confidence level and the likelihood that we will attract a romantic partner.
We Wear Less Clothing
During the warm summer months everyone is wearing less clothing, causing sex to be on our brains more than usual. Bikini cleavage and sundresses are sexier than parkas and slush-covered snow boots, right? Let’s not forget that when we bare more skin, we catch more rays, enhancing the sun-kissed complexion associated with youth and romance.
We Feel Free and Let Our Guard Down
Summer is the season for letting your guard down, and in turn, letting romance take center stage. According to Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist and author of Dating from the Inside Out, “When summer comes, people often associate it with celebration, vacation, and freedom, so they may be more open with others because of that.” Dr. Sherman also states that this makes us more trusting. “There is a correlation because physical warmth and pleasure stimulates our insula cortex, which is responsible for feelings of trust.”
We are Happier
Warm weather doesn’t just trigger the release of serotonin, it also triggers dopamine. These two chemicals hack into our levels of happiness and well-being. When you’re in a good mood, your partner will be too, increasing the likelihood that the two of you will relish in the honeymoon phase all summer long. Summer is associated with relaxation and vacation. It is hard to get your romance on when you are stressed, tired, or tense, and summer has a magical ability to send us right into happiness and relaxation, and make us more willing to let love it.
There is an Illusion of Love
There is an illusion that activities we enjoy in during the warm summer months represent the normal patterns we will engage in throughout the course of the relationship. Taking long walks on the beach, eating ice cream on the boardwalk, and cuddling under the stars are activities found only in summer that we tend to idolize as being the ideal relationships interactions. This illusion of love enhances the steaminess of the relationship.
“Many researchers believe that physiologically, we are more aroused in warm temperatures. We wear less clothing and the sunlight triggers dopamine.”
– Dr. Susie Spicer
We Are More Aroused in Warm Temperatures
Many researchers believe that physiologically, we are more aroused in warm temperatures. We wear less clothing and the sunlight triggers dopamine. Additionally, the decrease in melatonin levels that we experience in the sunlight is a source of increased desire, as melatonin can block sex hormones. There is nothing sexier than spending time out in the sun with someone you are attracted to and having science on your side.
Summer Scents Are Powerful
Neuroscientists know how much scents affect our memory. Smells are more powerful than sights and sounds at inducing autobiographical memories and the emotions associated with them. This means that when you smell something familiar, it is not uncommon to instantly feel a surge of emotions and recall specific periods of your life. Summer’s scents – from coconut sunscreen to the ocean – evoke so many feel-good memories that when you are hit with the positive effects of those scents while spending time with someone, your potential for falling in love is euphoric, and reaches an all-time high.
It’s Easier to Meet People
Summer’s longer days and sun-kissed weather mean more and more of us are outdoors, having a good time. While it is easy during the winter to stay indoors on social media, summer opens up exciting new possibilities for romance by meeting someone face to face. According to Dr. Paulette Sherman, “Most people remember summer dates fondly because of time spent together in nature doing things outside.”
Summer Foods Get You in the Mood
Certain foods are natural aphrodisiacs, and many of them happen to be things we commonly eat in the summer, particularly watermelon. A study from Texas A & M University found that watermelon has Viagra-like effects on the body’s blood vessels and may even increase libido.
We are Near Water More
Spending time on the water is not just relaxing – it is also great for falling in love. Researchers in a recent study discovered that being near the water made participants feel calmer, happier, and more refreshed than spending time in urban parks and the countryside did. This means summertime, with all of its access to oceans, lakes, and rivers, contributes to the presence of positive vibes. During summer, we spend more time on the water, increasing feelings of well-being and relaxation and enhancing our likelihood for social interaction and romance.
We Google Sex More
A study from Villanova University discovered that June and July, along with December and January, showed the highest number of sex-related Google searches. During the hottest (and coldest) months of the year, our interest in sex appears higher.
It’s pretty clear that summer has always been the perfect time to fall in love. There is no better time for romance than a season that lets you play in the sun all day, watch the sunset on a beach, and sit by the fire at night. Summer is also the season that is made for sex. So the next time you hear, “Summer lovin’ had me a blast” remember that when it comes to steamy romance, neuroscience is on your side. Time to pack your sunscreen, head to the beach, and find the Danny to your Sandy.
About the Author: Dr. Susan Spicer is a Licensed Psychologist and Neuropsychological Expert. She is Founder and President of Brainwave Technologies.