Cozy is winter's buzzword. Every department store and ad campaign blasts people with visions of cozy products they just have to buy, but to so many people, there's nothing cozier than having a partner to cuddle up to when the weather gets cold. The added stress of not being alone for the holidays makes people get an itch for a new partner they need to scratch. Cuffing season, as it's called, has been trending for over a decade now, and we're getting real about the ins and outs of making it through another one unscathed.
What's Cuffing Season and Who's Participating?
Cuffing season is this pseudo mating ritual that some people participate in during the winter months. It broke into mainstream culture around November 2016, according to Google trends. As it gets colder, and with pressure mounting to not be single heading into holiday parties and family events, people start looking for new partners in earnest. Normally, this starts around late-October/early-November and ends with spring. Whether it turns into a forever-romance or a seasonal one, people in their 20s and 30s seem to be most likely to be cuffing every year.
The Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Cuffing Season
Unlike driving or playing sports, cuffing doesn't come with a rulebook. But, based on the cuffers who walked before you, we're here to tell you all about the do's and don'ts of cuffing season.
Don't - Assume You Know Where You'll End Up in Spring
There's no way you can predict what's going to happen once you start seriously swiping through dating apps and going out with people. The biggest mistake you can make going into cuffing season is expecting that you'll either end up with a long-term relationship or that you're signing up for a fling. As they say, the heart wants what the heart wants, and if you're not ready for all the possibilities, maybe ride the bench this year.
Do - Know What You're Getting Into
An important first step for new cuffers is to be honest with yourself about where you are in life and what you're looking to get out of a new entanglement. Are you ready to integrate a new person into your life on a more permanent basis or are you just feeling lonely now that it's cold outside, you're isolated, and there's not as many social activities available? Making sure you get in the right headspace going into cuffing season will let you pick partners that are the on the same page and prevent any nasty spring-time breakups you weren't anticipating.
Don't - Commit to the First person That Shows Interest
We know how bad the cold, lonely nights can be. But you're not going to set yourself up for success if you throw away all of your options for the first person that shows any interest. Yes, cuffing season is meant for finding someone. But it's not meant for you to find the wrong someone.
Do - Explore Your Options and Date Around
There's a big misconception in cuffing season that you have to make a serious sexual or romantic commitment to someone or you're doing it wrong. If you're not interested in anything serious, but just want to join others in the same situation that you're in, then you can just date around. Going on a couple of dates with a few people during cuffing season will let you experience that connection and still stay true to where you're at and what you want in life right now.
Don't - Obsess Over Your New Relationship
In our 'ghosting' culture, people have so many starts and stops to dating that it's not uncommon for someone to go months or years without a committed relationship. When you're navigating a new relationship during cuffing season, it's super important that you don't obsess. Being loved and treated well is an addicting feeling, but you shouldn't neglect the other things in your life that make you happy. After all, you can't lay a good foundation for any relationship if you're looking to get all of your enrichment and needs met by only one person.
Do - Look for Other Areas to Enrich Your Life
Thankfully, we're at a point in society where people acknowledge that seasonal depression and seasonal affective disorders are real conditions and that they need to be taken seriously. According to psychology professor Stephen Kilianski, "less sunlight…results in hormonal changes in the brain that can lead to depression or at least more negative feelings." And while coupling is a major way our brains might want to get hits of serotonin (that mythical happy chemical), it's not the only place we can get it from.
it’s cuffing season which means i become handcuffed to my seasonal depression— Vincent Martella (@VinMan17) October 7, 2020
Don't feel like your only option to combat feeling isolated, negative, and even depressed is finding someone to be around constantly. Rather, you can balance having someone to engage with and rely on with other emotional boosts. Try out a few new hobbies, work your way through your to-do list, or focus on seeing a project through during the winter season. Another person's never going to solve everything, so you shouldn't put your eggs all in one basket.
Don't - Be Afraid to Outgrow the Relationship
Something that people tend to do is cling tighter to things they're worried about losing, and since cuffing season may come to an end around February (and with it, many relationships), you might be tempted to hold onto a connection that isn't meant to last long-term. As you both move into spring, and your social calendars open up, you two might grow a part - and that's okay.
me watching everyone break up during cuffing season pic.twitter.com/Kx3Vi0VZp2— carnage asada (@hxzzi) December 11, 2019
Do - Define Your Own Cuffing Season and Make it Happen
Lastly, and most importantly, every relationship expert touts their own version of what cuffing season is and should be. But, every relationship looks different, and the things you need at this point in your life are definitely different from your friends' and your neighbors'. The quintessential way to have a successful cuffing season is to define it for yourself and go full speed ahead to manifest it in your life the way you want it to be.
We're Built to Make Connections
Although we'd love it if the term cuffing season got an update, we know that urges to get closer when there are fewer opportunities to socialize get stronger. It's in our nature as humans to want to make connections, and cuffing season lets us do that in a romantic way. But you probably won't like the consequences that come from jumping into the deep end without considering the rules first. So, the best way to avoid heartbreak during cuffing is to read the rulebook. Even if you make a few of your own rules along the way, you'll have a better idea of what to do (and what not to) to stay emotionally healthy when cuffing season ends.