'Summer Shading': The Dating Trend Unlocking A Season Of Freedom (No Attachment Required)

If you live in a place where it's cold six months out of the year, then you are definitely familiar with what's affectionately known as cuffing season, aka that chilly time of year when singles take one look at the snow, gale-force winds, and dipping temps and think, "I'm getting a partner to keep me warm!"


Winter time has historically been the time of year when people get themselves into situationships just to snuggle under the covers while Netflix and chilling. But what happens when your cuffing partner wants to extend the relationship beyond the season? Summer feels like the time to finally let your hair down and have a "you" season that involves dating lots of people, enjoying our freedom, and keeping our options open.

As it turns out, there's a new trend in dating where people are letting their partners cool off in the shade so they can have the best summer of their lives. It's called "summer shading." What is it, and is it right for you? Let's take a closer look.

Summer shading puts your fling on the back burner

While we all love a great summer romance that heats up to The Notebook levels, summer shading is a dating trend for the digital age. Summer shading means essentially shelving your main squeeze on the back burner, allowing you to have a commitment-free summer. You never give up time with your friends for a date. You travel without running it by anyone. As the name suggests, you're letting your situationship cool off in the shade.


"The idea behind summer shading is that people might want to enjoy their freedom and have fun without any attachments during the summer," says Tina Wilson, who founded the dating app Wingman, per Stylist. "Then resume their serious relationships in the winter months when the weather starts to turn to autumn and people tend to stay in more." As Stylist reports, 67% of polled users admitted to either being the shader in the past or have plans to shade someone they're seeing.

Be honest about what you want

So, how do you navigate the tough conversation of shading your current situationship for the summer with the vague promise of maybe starting things up again later? If you're really not looking for anything serious, sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt told Refinery29 that honesty is the best policy here. "I think we make conversations about sex and relationships harder than they need to be," she says. "Be kind. Be clear. But just say it."


Wingman app founder Tina Wilson agrees, telling Stylist that a person should be given the chance to decide if this is okay with them. "Relationships should always be built on open communication and consent, so it's important for individuals to be clear about their intentions and boundaries." If your partner doesn't want you to hit them up in a few months once the mercury drops, respect that.

What if you're being shaded? Wilson says you need to let them go. "Move on and don't rely on them," she says. "Think of it as a holiday romance: you enjoyed it while it lasted, but they weren't your person."