Cuffing Season - Next Step Counseling

It is mid-November – the winter Midwesterners (and other parts of the country) have been dreading all summer has finally arrived; bringing with it the end to fun summer flings, rooftop bars, and skimpy clothing. Instead we have replaced it with heavy jackets, pumpkin spice everything, and cuffing season. Yes, you read that right – Cuffing Season – and it’s truly a thing. 

According to Urban Dictionary, “During the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be “Cuffed” or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”

Clinician Corie Rodeman, LMFT at Next Step Counseling reports, “We tend to hibernate more in the colder months and are less likely to want to leave the house which leads to an innate yearning to “couple up” in order to combat feeling isolated and our need for physical touch. If we look at this from a survival perspective dating back to caveman eras – winter months are notoriously more difficult for people to survive; lack of access to food, potential for hypothermia, it’s literally dark at 2pm – or so it feels like.”

Enter stage left – the desire to share this time with a partner who will meet our needs of physical touch, emotional closeness, keeping us warm and binge watching the same three actors falling in love with one another in every Hallmark Christmas movie ever made.  It’s what winter dreams are made of. Plus, it helps to dodge Aunt Emily’s constant barrage of questions during the holidays of “when you are going to settle down and have a family?” Well, actually Aunt Emily I just started dating someone. She doesn’t need to know it’s only because it’s cold outside.

Things to consider during Cuffing Season: 

As a culture, monogamy has been in the forefront of most things. We learn from a young age it is better to be in a relationship or to “fall in love and live happily ever after” than to be single.  Movies, advertisements, music, TV shows all shove this narrative down our proverbial throats – so of course Cuffing Season exists as a social construct. This isn’t to say relationships aren’t valuable and offer great benefits; however, it’s important to take into consideration what your end goal is when determining if Cuffing is right for you. 

It is important to be mindful of the reasons you are seeking a relationship during the winter months – if you haven’t felt compelled to be part of a couple and suddenly you are thinking it sounds enticing; try to get clear on what your reasons are for looking for a partner. If the answer is “because I feel lonely” – it is important to know feeling lonely is a very normal and real human emotion to experience at times. You could potentially be setting yourself or your partner up for heartache come the warmer months when you decide it isn’t really what you wanted. If you have been working towards other goals in life – like working on your six pack abs, becoming financially stable or winning the world record for highest jump on a pogo stick, relationships can take your focus away. 

The desire to couple up in the winter is an innate one – so if you find yourself yearning for someone to spend the cold winter months with, communication is paramount. It is important in any relationship, not just ones stemming from cuffing season, to be open about your expectations and desires for the relationship. Good communication and trust is a foundation for any relationship and if it is to last into the summer and beyond this should be on your radar.

Continue, as you would in any dating relationship, to be cognizant of red flags – staying in a relationship or excusing behaviors you normally wouldn’t allow just to be coupled is never a good idea. Staying in a relationship you probably would have ended in the summer makes it that much harder to end and will ultimately result in more feelings of loneliness or frustrations, not less. 

And lastly, if you find yourself in a couple during cuffing season – enjoy it! There are always positive memories to be made and happiness to be had. Quiet the anxious thoughts about this being temporary by getting to know your partner’s world – and be open to sharing yours as well. Plan dates even when the temps drop below zero; take an interest in getting to know your partner’s friends and family. Chances are because the holidays fall smack dab in the middle of cuffing season you will end up being your partner’s date for these events. When the warmer months come start having conversations and making plans about this being something more – if that’s what you’re interested in. 

Happy Cuffing Season!