Editor’s note: This reader favorite was originally published in October 2020; we’re sharing it again in case you missed it the first time around.

I check women out on the street.It’s something I do. I try to be respectfully not-too-obvious about it, but I’m pretty much always looking.

In the summer, the resulting 30-second fantasies are more along the lines of “skinny dipping which inevitably leads to slow, standing, eye contact sex” or simply trying to imagine what her boobs might look like based on the shape of her nose and eyes (not a foolproof system, but surprisingly accurate). In the fall, however, checking a woman out tends to make me think “Wow. I’d like to be in a long term relationship with that girl.”

The shift is gradual (much like the change in seasons). It begins in mid September (“Wow, I’d like to have sex with her indoors in an actual bed.”), takes root in early October (“Wow, I’d really like to …brush her hair… or something…”) and peaks about the same time as the fall foliage (“Wow, I’d really like to… host a dinner party with her.”).

I’ve asked around and I’m not the only guy who feels this way. So, if this autumnal desire for companionship is in fact a widespread phenomenon, what could possibly account for it?

Maybe it’s pretty crude. The abundance of visible skin in the summer causes overstimulation and acute panic (How will I ever be able to have sex with all of these women? How will I live with myself if I don’t?). Trying to be with just one woman is like a five-year-old sleeping in on Christmas morning. If you haven’t already found a relationship that’s right for you, short skirt season is not the time to start looking.

Maybe it’s because women’s personalities (i.e. what we fall in love with) are more clearly on display at a glance in the autumn. It’s almost impossible for a woman to truly express herself through fashion without layering. It could be that the skillful coordination of scarves, earrings, sweaters, necklaces, jackets, leggings, boots, skirts, bracelets, legwarmers, and tights say more about how a woman thinks than cut offs and a tank top. Not that there’s anything wrong with cut offs and a tank top (smack me if you ever hear me say otherwise), but in that brief window when she’s walking down into the subway and I’m coming up? Her glasses, tweed knee-length coat, long skirt and hair in a messy bun communicate to me that she’s probably thoughtful, quirky, organized (but not obsessive), and a tough nut to crack who’s worth the effort. And she might want to roast some root vegetables and watch Harold and Maude with me.

Maybe it’s because women just look… smarter in the fall. Look, everyone — men and women — seems dumb as hell in the summer — drunk on shitty beer in the afternoon, wearing flip flops, shirtless or in tube tops, holding a frisbee, and singing the new Pitbull jam at the top of their lungs. Summer is the season of stupidity. When it’s back to school time, women’s style of dress has a more academic leaning. A be-scarfed and be-blazered woman makes me think, “One game of Scrabble will not be enough with this one. We’ll need many games of Scrabble over a series of lazy Sundays in order to understand the nuances of each other’s love of language.”

Of course, it could be that this seasonal desire to find a girlfriend is less about how women present themselves to the world in the autumn and more about how much fall activities suck when you’re single. Because getting lost in a corn maze by yourself is fun, right? How about haunted houses? The high-pitched scream you let out when that disembodied head on the table suddenly starts talking is just kind of sad without a girl there to tease you about it. And you can forget about apple picking. Nothing makes a man feel more like an overgrown child than being fifth wheel to his coupled friends at a goddamned apple orchard. You may as well just dress me up in Osh Kosh overalls and lift me up so I can reach the branches because I’M OBVIOUSLY NOT MATURE ENOUGH TO HAVE A GIRLFRIEND.

Or maybe it’s just because autumn is the most romantic time of year. It’s the season in which bright, blazing leaves show us that there is beauty in frailty. It seems more apparent in the fall than in the “invincible” summer, that each of us is here only for a short time and the best way to celebrate, and to understand our fleeting, gorgeous existence is to intertwine it with someone else’s.

Maybe. But it’s more likely because, A) women are that much more beautiful and mysterious when you’re really looking at them and B) even on my burliest, most flannel clad day, I can’t eat an entire pumpkin pie all by myself.


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