Ryan Chartrand

Apparently, spring is the season for love.

I was very young when I learned this universal truth, but it seems Disney saw fit to educate me at that age about the birds and the bees (in the abstract, not the anatomical sense) by allegorizing via an animated deer and other cutesy woodland creatures.

Disney’s “Bambi” also added an important word to my vocabulary: To be “twitterpainted” means to be caught up in the aforementioned springtime fever (fluttering tweeting songbirds and pollinated breezes optional).

If spring is in the air, love is in the air. (For the allergy-inflicted among us, I’m not exactly sure what that spells for you.)

Having since drifted from the ideal pastures and thickets of my childhood, I must ask the question, unravel though it must that “Bambi” tape that saw far too many runs in the VCR:

Rather, is spring the season for lust?

Something about spring revs up the hormones. An article by Sally Schultheiss on MSN Dating & Personals cites scientific psychological evidence for the springtime surge.

According to the psychologists quoted in the article, levels of increased sunlight are responsible for higher testosterone in men and lower melatonin in women, the latter of which makes females more energetic (the former, I think, need not be explained).

The article also keenly mentions the fact that spring, for humans and animalia alike, is a time for molting; shedding; out with the old, in with the new (skimpy fashions that uncover all that bare skin that was hidden from objectifying view during the bleak winter months)!

It makes sense, then, that the term “spring fling” is one of the more well-known, perhaps more frequently-used vernal quips, especially on a college campus of lusty youths (and professors who once were, or still are, at heart).

The fling: the short-term, why-not, take-a-chance younger sibling of the full-blown relationship.

The definitions provided by those stuffy Oxford English Dictionary blokes (and blokettes?) seem to put a negative spin on the word. A fling is “a passing attempt at or attack upon something”; “a hasty, reckless, or wanton movement, a rush”; or “a violent movement, a plunge.”

Or, my personal favorite: “A fit or spell of unrestrained indulgence of one’s impulses. ‘To have one’s fling’: usually, to abandon oneself to pleasure until the impulse is satisfied.” (Kidding about the “stuffy” thing, oh mighty OED masters. You have my English-major allegiance.)

As for me, I’m a traditional girl at heart. I’m a commitment-phile, in-it-for-the-long-run, looking-for-the-One, full-blown-relationship kind of person.

But this only makes the concept of the fling that much more fascinating to dissect.

I can see how the fling can be an attractive option on today’s Starbucks-like relationship menu. If you’re not prepared to make the commitment to a hot venti – which will take time and patience to cool and sip – a tall, icy frappuccino can seem far more appetizing (and believe me, those things disappear fast).

The fling allows you all the “fun” of romance compressed into a very short period of time, with none of the messy emotional strings attached (provided you order your drink no-whip).

Maybe you’re suffering from “spring fever” as Dictionary.com defines it: “a listless, lazy, or restless feeling commonly associated with the beginning of spring.” You’ve emerged from hibernation and are looking for some excitement and spice in your love life.

Maybe you’ve fallen victim to the aforementioned psycho-physiological tendencies that springtime sunlight seems to facilitate. (Public service announcement: Remember to slather on the SPF if you’re planning on getting more use out of said skimpy-wear.)

I realize there are physical elements of the fling that make it what it is (though I don’t necessarily believe “fling” is synonymous with “one-night stand”. call it what you will); but let’s take a positive-psych look at this phenomenon:

If it’s a fling you’re seeking, why not get as much out of it as you can?

Provided both you and your partner decide upon the limits and lengths of your fling from the start, the fling can be a spring of opportunity for taking chances, escaping old cycles, recharging and regenerating, and some emotional spring cleaning.

Think of it as a stage, a practicing ground, a place where you can take a look at your own interpersonal style and feel out elements of your own personality that normally take a backseat.

You might discover you like yourself more when you see that you can be more bold where you were once shy, or that you can relax and let someone else do the driving where normally you would have to be in control.

Realistically, the impulsivity inherent in flings means that most people don’t go about them looking to self-improve; furthermore, some people don’t realize it’s going to be short-term until after things dissolve.

But ideally, whether before or after the fact, the fling can be a learning experience. It has the potential to boost your confidence in the context of relationships, both in your self-image and in your ability to make smart decisions about what kind of relationship is best for you.

So, as you skip your afternoon class and head off to the beach to bask in those UV rays and twitterpaint, remember: Your spring fling can be more than just a thing.

Sarah Carbonel is an English and psychology junior and Mustang Daily dating columnist.

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