Everyone wants to enjoy a passionate, hot relationship during those carefree summer months — but how do you manage that when the temperature has reached triple digits outside and you feel like you’re melting? It’s not easy to muster up the energy required for wooing when you’re dripping buckets of sweat. But just because it’s sweltering outside doesn’t mean you have to park yourself in front of your air conditioner 24/7.
Here are 20 tips guaranteed to keep you cool and refreshed while in hot pursuit of romance during the dog days of summer:
1. Date during off-peak hours. Now’s the time to meet someone for early morning coffee or late-night desserts — when the day’s temperature is at its coolest. If you’re going on an outdoor date, like a brisk hike or walking your dogs together, avoid making plans between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their strongest intensity.
2. Catch a flick. Movies are usually lousy first-date options, because you don’t get much of an opportunity to talk to each other. But when a heat wave strikes, a movie date becomes much more attractive because of the free, ice-cold A/C pumping throughout the theater. A multiplex is an amazing place to cool down on a hot summer day and catch a double feature while you wait for the sun to set, too.
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3. Going out for dinner? Avoid foods that are traditionally served piping hot. No one wants fondue or soup when it’s 103 degrees outside (unless it’s gazpacho). Stick to cold foods, like summer salads, and for dessert, opt for ice cream, snow cones, or cheesecake to keep your temperature down.
4. Visit an indoor rink for some ice skating. It may be August, but you can still experience the chill of a winter wonderland indoors by hitting up a local ice skating rink. Pretend it’s the dead of winter by bringing along a hat and gloves and sipping hot chocolate. Plus, if one of you is something of a novice, it’s a perfect excuse to hold hands and get a little closer!
5. Make a splash. Pool parties or water parks are an awesome way to get acquainted with each other and keep cool at the same time. Not everyone’s OK with showing that much skin on a first or second date, however, so make sure you’re both equally comfortable with the concept before breaking out your bathing suit.
6. Enjoy an icy treat. Meeting for iced coffee or even frozen-fruit smoothies is a novel way to chill out on summer dates. Nothing screams “summer” more than a brightly colored frozen treat… but don’t drink it too fast or you’ll risk getting “brain freeze!”
7. Dress for comfort to enjoy greater dating success. Not that you’re going to wear a sweater on a summer date, of course, but dressing in summery clothes that breathe (like cotton or linen) will help you sweat even less. Shorts on a date become more acceptable for both men and women when it’s hot outside, too.
8. Invest in good hair products and practice different styles. Now’s the time to step things up with your hair care products — especially if your locks are frizz-prone or typically dripping with sweat in the summertime. For guys: the right gel or hair wax can make your hair manageable no matter how hot and humid it is outside. For ladies: if you can’t tame those locks, a sleek ponytail or bun looks chic.
9. Worried about sweat? Hit the showers first. Dashing from work to a date with little time to spare? This tip helps freshen you up, both physically and mentally: first, rinse yourself off with some refreshing, cool water, and then sprinkle your body with a light dusting of talcum powder afterwards. (Hint: A strong antiperspirant works wonders, too.)
10. Seek out indoor versions of the outdoor activities you usually enjoy. Many activity dates might seem off-limits this time of year, but they’re not if you can find an air-conditioned equivalent. For example, walls for rock-climbing, concerts, or mini-golf games can often be found indoors, too. “I love going to outdoor concerts, but I avoid those in August when it’s just too hot to do much of anything,” says Tish of Phoenix, AZ. “Instead, I go to jazz clubs or live-music venues that I don’t normally frequent. It’s fun to try going somewhere new, and I don’t have to worry about suffering from heat stroke just to get my music fix!”
11. Bring an umbrella or a parasol with you. Or, look ultra-glam with a big hat and sunglasses (if you’re a lady). Anything to make sure you’re staying made in the shade… this includes a dab of sunscreen, guys!
12. Don’t leave home without plenty of water. Grab a couple of icy cold bottles of water before an outdoor activity, and suddenly, you’re a hero to your honey. (And remember: There’s nothing sexy about ending your outing with a case of dehydration!)
13. Ladies, make sure that your makeup is sweat-proof. Waterproof mascara’s a must, but skip applying your usual foundation that’s sure to melt off and opt for a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen instead.
14. When you’ve run out of indoor date ideas, zero in on activities you wouldn’t normally try… like roller-skating or bowling. Gaming arcades are also prime summer date spots; who doesn’t like skee ball or a rousing game of darts? And let’s not forget the fun that can be had at bingo parlors — with some luck, you could be a little bit richer by the end of the night!
15. Dining al fresco? Call to ensure the restaurant has a shaded area. And be sure to inquire about outdoor misters, mosquito netting/traps and which table beneath the canopy has the best view available, too.
16. Force yourself get out of the house and be socially active. You might feel like hibernating inside your house or apartment until the leaves start changing colors, but forcing yourself to get out (whether you’ve got a date or not) will ensure that you enjoy those last moments of summer for all they’re worth. Who knows — you could meet someone while you’re watching the sun set at the beach or letting Fido go for a run at the dog park!
17. Avoid eating spicy foods — they will only make you sweat more. Chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin that actually causes your body to perspire; cinnamon-flavored desserts and drinks, too, will seem tastier in cooler months.
18. Stroll through an art gallery or museum. Most museums and gallery spaces must be kept at a controlled, cooler temperature and humidity point in order to preserve the artwork, so it’s a great place to take someone when it’s hot enough outside to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Plus, they’re often cheap (or free) depending on the exhibit, which makes for an economical, low-pressure first date option.
19. Be spontaneous! Try running through an interactive fountain at an outdoor mall or city plaza hand-in-hand just for the fun of it. “I’ll never forget when I was walking down the street with a date on a hot summer day, and she ran through a sprinkler in someone’s front yard,” says James of Tulsa, OK. “I thought that was hilarious, and it showed how carefree she could be.”
20. Use the sweltering weather as a conversation starter. If you’re tongue-tied on a first date or dying to flirt with someone nearby, you can always mention how freakishly hot it is outside; then, if things go well, you can move on to chatting about the ways you both enjoy staying cool. It’s a natural opening for planning your second date or finding out if the other person’s interested in you. Now that’s hot!
Julie Taylor is a writer in Los Angeles who’s written for Redbook and other publications.