Summer Shading: How to Make Sure You’re Not a Victim of This Summer’s Biggest Red Flag

written by MADI KOETTING
summer shading"
summer shading
Source: @shae-devereaux | Pexels
Source: @shae-devereaux | Pexels

Aperol spritz sippin’ on the patio season is officially here, and with that comes the flirty, fun feeling of sweet, sweet summertime. From the looks of it, summer 2024 is about to be a hot one—and we’re not just talking about the weather. Daters are ramping up for their best season yet, but this year, they aren’t bringing their current sig-o along for the ride, thanks to the dating trend coined “summer shading.” With trips to Italy, summer barbeques, and flings to take advantage of, the term “summer break” is being taken seriously, affecting current relationships and the dating scene in tandem.

Whether you’re casually dating, in a situationship, or even in a new-ish exclusive relationship, you’re not immune to falling victim to summer shading this year. But if you want to spend more time soaking up the sun and less time wondering about the status of your love life this summer, read on to learn what exactly summer shading is, plus what to do if you get shaded.

What is summer shading?

Coined by the dating app Wingman, summer shading quite literally means putting a romantic interest in the shade to “cool off” during the summer months. In doing this, individuals have more time to put toward themselves, their friends, and all the other exciting things that summer offers. Now, “cooling someone off” doesn’t necessarily mean cutting ties altogether. Rather, it means pressing pause and leaving the door open to possibly revisit the relationship once the fun of summer dies off come fall (AKA cuffing season). Summer shading can look and feel a lot like ghosting where individuals get more and more distant in their communication or stop communicating as a whole, but the caveat is that they might plan to resurface in a few months once they’ve had their fun.

Why is summer shading so common?

According to a survey from Wingman, nearly 67 percent of their dating app users say they’ve experienced summer shading, either as the initiator or on the receiving end. There’s certainly something about warm weather that makes us want to release our inhibitions and feel the rain on our skin, but why exactly do people feel the need to “shade” romantic interests simply because it’s summer? We talked to Wingman founder and relationship expert, Tina Wilson, to get a better look.

“During the summer, people have an urge to enjoy their freedom. They want to have fun without any attachments during nice weather, then resume their serious relationships in the colder months when people prefer to stay inside more,” says Wilson. Let’s not forget, though, that summer is also known for pursuing summer flings or casual situationships. So sure, the freedom that daters gain at this time allows them to do whatever they want, but it also allows them to do whoever they want, which may cause trouble come fall when it’s time to reunite with their shaded interest.

At the top of the year, Bumble revealed that 2024 was going to be the “year of self” in the dating world, so this trend isn’t all that surprising. After all, there’s no shame in trying to get the most out of your personal life and your love life. But we do know this to be true: Prioritizing yourself doesn’t have to come at the cost of someone else’s feelings.

How will summer shading affect current relationships?

I know what you’re thinking: “I’m in a serious, committed relationship, do I really need to be worried about ‘summer shading?’” Truthfully, it depends. I, for example, have been dating my partner for three years, and we live together. We have a deep foundation of trust and understanding, so I don’t exactly see myself being impacted by summer shading. (I genuinely hope the same for all current couples!) But as much as we like to think our relationship status is solid, this dating trend is a good opportunity to hold a check-in with yourself and your partner to ensure your intentions are aligned.

Relationships are a commitment, and honest communication is key to evaluating how that commitment stacks up—no matter the season.

Regardless of whether you’ve been dating for one month or one year, ask your partner (and yourself) what they’re looking forward to this summer and how they feel about where things are going in the relationship. If their answer involves you, that’s a pretty good sign you’re in a relationship that’s progressing in a healthy direction. And if their answer surprises you, don’t hesitate to ask further questions to understand if your relationship is right for you. Relationships are a commitment, and honest communication is key to evaluating how that commitment stacks up—no matter the season.

How do you know that you’re being summer-shaded?

In the words of Olivia Rodrigo—it’s brutal out here. Summer shading certainly doesn’t offer reassurance in today’s dating environment, so we rounded up some red flags to stay on high alert for. Whether you’re single, casually pursuing a partner, or in a relationship, here are some telltale signs your romantic partner is putting you in the shade:

  • Their communication is poor or becomes non-existent
  • They feel closed off, distant, or like they’re avoiding you
  • They make fun plans with their friends and repeatedly don’t invite you
  • Planning dates or outings together is like pulling teeth
  • Their excuses for why they can’t hang out are plentiful
  • You’ve been straight-up ghosted

What to do if you’re being shaded

Summer or not, the above signs are red flags. But if you find that your romantic interest or partner is starting to pull back this summer, is acting distant, or is failing to take advantage of the season with you, don’t ignore that feeling. Ask yourself, is this someone I want to put my energy toward this summer? Or, is it in my best interest to walk away? It’s important to take a step back and ask yourself what you want this season (and going forward), too.

Regardless of wanting something casual or being open to a committed relationship, communicating your intentions early can help you from feeling blindsided. This opens up a pathway for your romantic interest to do the same, and their ability (or lack thereof) to communicate says everything.

If they show genuine excitement and interest in exploring something with you, that’s a green flag, no matter the season. And if you’re exhausted just trying to plan a happy hour, that’s a sign it’s not worth your energy. No one wants to feel like they’re practically begging a romantic interest to hang out with them. It’s more important than ever to listen to your gut if and when these red flags pop up. Then, you can move forward accordingly.

The bottom line

Take summer shading as yet another reminder to prioritize your own fun and well-being this summer. This season can be for the girls, for the boys, or yourself all at the same time. So, enter the next couple of months with an open heart. More importantly, surround yourself with the people who bring you the most joy—romantic interests or not.

Summer shading doesn’t mean you should close yourself off completely from new romantic situations. It’s simply a warning for what can happen as we’re all feeling more free, excited, and spontaneous right now. Our best advice: Enjoy the season, and steer clear of anyone who tries to cool you off.