'Summer shading' is the horrible dating phenomenon that we wish would cool off

'Summer shading'? Thank u, next! Here's how to work through the icky trend, according to a dating expert.

young woman in a black dress illuminated by the sun
(Image credit: Jultud/Getty Images)

Summertime and the living is easy...even if dating is not. "Summer shading," one of the current trends to take hold during the vacation season, is definitely causing unrest in our romantic lives. 

While we're glad to see singles expanding their boundaries by "untyping" and embracing their Main Character Energy, summer shading only seems to make matters of the heart more complicated. 

"This is particularly toxic because it is hurtful and sends mixed messages to the person who is invested and wants to see the other," says relationship expert Emma Hathorn of Seeking.com. "It’s the lazier version of quiet quitting."

So, what exactly does this shady behavior entail? Let's dive in.

Emma Hathorn

Emma Hathorn is a dating and relationship expert for Seeking.com.

What is 'summer shading'?

"Summer shading" is when singles intentionally avoid a serious romantic commitment during the summer months while they're busy traveling and taking time off. Though similar to Bumble's coined phenomenon, "wanderlove," and eharmony's "expirationships," the trouble with summer shading lies in the uncertainty. It's not quite as upfront as its counterparts, or at least it doesn't feel that way according to the singles who have experienced it.  

"It can be an incredibly testing time, and ultimately those who aren’t looking for something serious or have problems committing will cool down their efforts to see you because it isn’t convenient or a priority," Hathorn adds. 

How to avoid getting caught in 'summer shading'

If you're looking for that superbloom romance and aren't interested in something fleeting, make your intentions known from the get-go, whether you're swiping on a dating app or meeting people at a local hotspot. 

"I am a big believer in going with your gut and being upfront and honest with communication," Hathorn notes. "It doesn’t necessarily need to be confrontational. It will save you from second guessing and it's a big-time saver."

Weeding away someone who is interested in short-term romance doesn't necessarily make him or her bad—just different. Even though it feels like everyone is in the dating scene, not everyone wants the same things. Know what you're looking for before you start the search.  

What will 'summer shading' look like going forward?

Summer won't be around forever, and some of us are particularly excited for the cooler weather (and obviously Halloween). But Hathorn seems to believe the change in seasons can also cause romantic issues. 

"As we come into cuffing season, where singles look for a partner to ‘cuff up’ in the winter months, I believe we will see a return to the trend of ‘zombieing’," she says. "This is when former romances come back into the fold (almost like coming back from the dead) as they search for a romantic interest to cuff up with as we head towards the colder months."

Obviously, this opens up a whole new can of worms. But by going with your gut and sticking to your guns, you'll be able to handle any dating dilemmas thrown your way, regardless of the time of year. 

"Be cautious about giving [the zombie or summer shader] the benefit of the doubt, and consider if this is worth your time," Hathorn recommends. "They may have reflected on their actions and apologized, and may be genuine in their intentions. However, I’m afraid to say, nine times out of 10 this is not the case, so go with your gut."

And if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the dating scene, no matter the season, check out our expert-backed first date tips, ways to manage your mental health while online dating, or pick up a book for some insight. 

Unfuck Your Intimacy: Using Science for Better Relationships, Sex, and Dating by Dr. Faith G Harper

Unfuck Your Intimacy: Using Science for Better Relationships, Sex, and Dating by Dr. Faith G Harper
$14.95 | Amazon

There's shady behavior 24/7/365, but we know you'll find what you're looking for. Stay strong out there, friends.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.