When the weather gets chilly, the desire to curl up with a loved one on a chilly night grows. It’s officially cuffing weather! “Cuffing season” typically begins in October and lasts through the spring, with couples pairing off for a few months before separating.
Even though a cuffing season relationship isn’t exactly romantic, experts say it can have a lot of advantages. You can get there if you do things correctly.
Shadeen Francis, a licensed marriage and family therapist says it’s a shortcut to the cozy stage of a relationship. “Although these short-term bonds may not have the same depth as a long-term relationship, some of these short-term bonds can feel soothing and comforting,” she explains.
It’s worth pondering: Just because you can enjoy outdoor happy hours and weekend getaways in summer doesn’t mean that you can do the same thing in freezing temperatures in the fall and winter. It’s possible that staying cooped up all day and not seeing your friends has an impact on your mood. Have you seen the movie The Shining?
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There is less to do outside in the winter, and Dr. Holly Richmond, a sex therapist and the author of Reclaiming Pleasure: A Sex-Positive Guide for Moving Past Sexual Trauma and Living a Passionate Life says that it is beneficial for people’s mental health to not be isolated in the dark winter months.
What’s a girl to do when her social circle shrinks and becomes more sluggish? Other than find a hottie to cuddle up with and have sex with between Netflix marathons?
This cuffing season, use this expert-approved guide to find someone special to keep you warm and entertained before the cold weather sets in.
First Things First: What Is Cuffing Season?
You’ve probably heard of “cuffing” since it first appeared in the Urban Dictionary 10 years ago, and you may have even participated in a few cuffing seasons of your own. It’s that time of year again, “cuffing season,” when the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder and people begin looking for partners to keep them company.
What goes through your mind when you’re making these decisions? According to relationship researcher Marisa T. Cohen, Ph.D., “in the winter months, people are less motivated to leave the warmth and comfort of their homes to meet others for social gatherings.” As a result, most people prefer to spend time with one person at a time at home.”
Even though these relationships tend to be short-lived, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that your seasonal boo will blossom into a year-round crush. But I’ll get to that in a minute…
When Is Cuffing Season?
The cuffing season typically begins in late fall or early winter and lasts until spring begins to warm up. In addition to the weather, there is also a biological component that plays a role in this desire to get together in the winter.
The drop in serotonin levels that occurs as the temperature drops can lead to a desire to spend time with a loved one to lift one’s spirits, according to Cohen.
Anyone who has seen a certain type of movie will have witnessed the social norm of having a companion during the holiday trifecta of Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and February 14th. Because of the pressure to not be alone at these events, you aren’t alone.
It’s like, you need someone to take home for Christmas,” Richmond says of rom-com. People are either going home or attending events where it is felt that they should be paired up, which is why I believe they should be partnered up.
Richmond goes on to say that she thinks Halloween is another holiday where showing up to a party without a plus one is becoming a social norm. “They’re all holidays that people like to spend with someone else, and in this case, a romantic partner,” she says.
How Do I Find a Seasonal Bae?
Finding someone worth your time is a difficult enough task on a typical day. It’s a lot harder to meet new people when you’re stuck indoors all the time, and you’re more likely to hide under the covers until spring. It can hurt one’s dating prospects.
The best-looking person in 60 swipes may have been a friend-of-a-friend who lives near your social bubble. If you’re clear about your intentions to cuff, you’ll be able to focus on whether or not their personality matches yours. Try it out “If you’d like to meet up, I’d be happy to do so, but I’m not interested in a long-term relationship. What do you think about something brief and straightforward?” Once those boundaries and expectations have been established, you should be fine.
— Motown Records (@motown) October 12, 2021
It’s not uncommon, according to Richmond, for one partner to be more emotionally invested and have a clearer idea of what they want out of their relationship. Indeed, we can’t be held responsible for the feelings of others, but we can be held accountable for not leading others on.
Make use of the dating apps you can bear, resurrect the promising conversations you abandoned two months ago, or take to the social media channels. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about what your relationship is all about.
How Can I Tell if I’ve Been Cuffed?
There is a lot of confusion when you’re not the one cuffing someone else. After an apple-picking outing, perhaps you started talking or dating, but they didn’t stay over. Who knows what’s going on. A vibe check can come in handy here.
Are you referring to a vision for the future? Yes, but is it a result of a natural process? Is it March or April when these plans come to an end? Observe these conversations to see if your partner is thinking short-term or long-term. This can also assist you in gaining a better grasp of your current situation. Francis advises you to pay attention to your inner voice and determine whether it is telling you that you need more commitment or that you are happy with the current state of affairs.
If you want to know if you’re being cuffed, you can simply ask (seriously, see above). The dreaded “What are we?” conversation isn’t necessary. To get your point across simply ask “Where do you see this going?”
What you do next is entirely up to you after you receive your answer: Do you want to learn more about one another or are you content with the way things are right now? Let it continue until you have to put your sweaters away for the next time they’ll be worn. It’s best to end things now and look for someone who shares your interests.
Should I Participate in Cuffing Season or Nah?
Cuffing isn’t for everyone, but if you’d rather spend the winter alone, all the better. People who crave attention and affection should consider what they need in this moment of their lives rather than settle for a cuddle buddy hiding red flags under a cozy blanket or fall into a relationship they never wanted.
The following are some pointers to help you decide if the cuffing season is worth your time:
1. Figure out what you want.
There are times when our desires are incompatible with our hopes for life’s experiences, as Francis observes. Though going on fall dates with someone who will liven up your Instagram may be appealing, you’re looking for something more meaningful.
Yes, it’s normal to crave company and attention, but Francis advises being honest with yourself about whether a short-term relationship will meet your emotional needs. Put pen to paper for a moment and think about what you’d like in a relationship, no matter how long it lasts.
2. Consider Just How Intimate You’re Willing to Get.
When it comes to keeping your feelings private, no one can fault you. After all, your fling has a set end date. Regularly check in with one another and yourself to see how open you are to one another. In some cases, you may have to cancel family gatherings, while in others, you may be able to designate specific days for yourself or your friends without your cold-weather lover around.
Cuffing can still be rewarding, even if you’re not unpacking childhood trauma or work woes with each other. Your physical and emotional needs should be taken care of no matter how lighthearted the festivities of cuffing season may appear to you.
3. Don’t let the pressure get to you.
The annual white elephant party is the perfect opportunity to flaunt your matching pumpkin spice lattes and a mysterious date (read: shut up the nosy folks around you). If you’re only wearing cuffs to blend in or avoid attention, you should think twice. You don’t want to pretend to be in a relationship that you aren’t, Francis tells me.
4. Get Clear on Boundaries Before, During, and After You’re Cuffed.
For those who have made it clear that they only want a short-term relationship, this is good news. We now need to define those terms and discuss what’s acceptable and what’s not. What’s the difference between a fun pastime and something more serious?
What if you want to surprise your partner with a bouquet? Isn’t that a thoughtful gesture? That’s true, but they might feel awkward doing so, given the informal nature of the occasion. It’s a simple conversation starter from Francis: “I was thinking about getting you flowers today, but that can be seen as a more emotional gesture, how do you feel about it?”
Make sure to check in with each other from time to time to share your thoughts and feelings about the situation. That way, you’ll be able to better avoid ambiguous messages.
*checks Calendar* Okay, Cuffing Season Is Over. What Now?
After spending a few months together, if you don’t want to continue the relationship, that is entirely up to you. Let go of any preconceived notions about the relationship, and then get started!
But what if you’re open to continuing this connection? That’s perfectly acceptable, too. Thinking about things like “Does this person have the attributes or traits that I value in a partner?” “Do we share the same values?,” or “What do I like about how I feel with this person?” are all good questions to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to pursue a relationship with this individual. In addition, you will have to engage in dialogue.
It is crucial to maintain open lines of communication in any relationship and to feel free to express your wants, desires, and fears, according to Cohen. “It’s important to communicate with your partner if you’d like to keep your loving and stable relationship going strong. Be open and honest with yourself and others.”
So, sit down with your partner and work it out. It’s simple if you and your partner agree on where to go and what you’ll drink when the weather warms up: plan your next patio outing.
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