Hot weather flings don't always cool with the season
When Jess and Greg Green first started dating as counselors at a summer camp, they didn't imagine the relationship would last beyond the summer, let alone turn into marriage.
But last week, the Hampton couple — parents of Abigail, 9, and James, 6 — celebrated their 14th anniversary.
“We both were thinking it would just be fun,” says Jess Green, 37. “It was definitely just a summer thing in the beginning, but then we stayed together. ... It was one of those things where we just knew.”
Summer romances can spark and flare into fireworks that quickly cool to ash. But, sometimes, the relationships last well beyond the season.
What makes people inclined toward love in the summer?
“It's because it's put in a specific compartment that all the elements are there,” says Wendy Walsh, a Los-Angeles based relationship expert and online psychotherapist. “You don't have the stress from your everyday life. You can be a fantasy ... and we're talking about summertime, when you're not wearing much clothes. All of that is a setup for falling in love.
“The question is whether you can take your summer romance into the fall,” says Walsh, author of books including “The 30-Day Love Detox: Cleanse Yourself of Bad Boys, Cheaters and Commitment Phobes and Find Your Perfect Relationship.”
“The answer comes only with time to see what happens when you get into your old places,” she says.
Steve Ward, Philadelphia-based chief executive officer of Master Matchmakers, has the same observation.
“When you're on vacation or when you're on any sort of holiday — when you're just not working — you're in a different frame of mind,” says Ward, executive producer of the VH1 show “Tough Love.”
“People don't act the same as they ordinarily would when they're on vacation,” Ward says, describing the free-spirited nature of the sunny season. “You kind of allow yourself to connect with people with the expectation that this is not going to last. ... It almost makes it easier to date someone if nobody expects it to work than if everyone does expect it to work.”
When functioning in day-to-day life, for example, people tend to base their dating decisions on economics, Ward says. When money is tight, people socialize less. But summer romances often arise from situations where people have money to spend because they are vacationing.
What makes these relationships last after the sunny, “honeymoon” phase ends?
Ward says it depends on the chemistry and the commitment each partner has. Going back to everyday life will test the strength of that connection. Often, summer-romance partners don't even live in the same area the rest of the year, so they will be attempting a long-distance relationship if they want to continue.
Often, people enter summer relationships with the “Let's just have fun” mindset, but then feel surprised to find themselves falling in love, Ward says.
“The next thing you know, you really care about this person, and you want it to last,” he says.
That's what happened to the Greens, who started their relationship thinking it was a fun, temporary thing. After the summer ended and they returned to their colleges, Greg Green regularly drove 14 hours to Maine from Ohio just to spend a weekend with his girl.
“I think I knew sooner than she did,” Greg Green says. “I knew very shortly that she was the person I really wanted to be with. Within weeks, I knew there was something really, really good that I felt about her.”
Jennifer and Calvin Robol of Peters met during a brief encounter on a summer vacation in Ocean City, Md., during the '90s, when she was celebrating her 21st birthday with a friend.
At a Jamaican restaurant, Calvin Robol of Bethel Park and his friend approached their table, sat down and started talking. Jennifer Robol — then a resident of Gettysburg, Adams County, where she grew up — was impressed by the young man, who was studying music education at Duquesne University.
They parted ways after that meeting, but she couldn't forget about Calvin and how much they had in common. She decided to take a chance and look him up, based on the limited information she had. She knew Calvin's first name, knew he was from a Pittsburgh-area municipality that began with a “B” and worked at his father's auto-salvage business. She called one of those area businesses, and Calvin Robol — now an IT software developer — actually answered the phone. He was pleasantly surprised, and the couple began a long-distance relationship before marrying in the summer of 1999.
Calvin and Jennifer Robol — now 42 and 40, respectively — celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary Aug. 14. They have three children: Tony, 12, Brody, 4, and Alaina, 3.
“It was the most crazy thing,” Jennifer Robol says. “There was just a voice inside of me that said, ‘You've got to quit being so timid. Take a chance. You never know what kind of thing could happen in your life.' ”
When Pat Mele and her husband, the Rev. Harold Mele, met as teenagers at a local swimming pool, something magical sparked on that summer Sunday afternoon in 1956.
Harold Mele, now 74 and an evangelist, found out where she lived after meeting her that afternoon, then showed up at her door that evening — and that, says Pat Mele, 72, was that.
Though the couple, celebrating their 55th anniversary Aug. 31, went through a few breakups when they were younger, they mostly have been together ever since that day. The Lower Burrell couple now have two children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.