To Cuff or Not to Cuff: A Definitive Guide to Surviving Cuffing Season

Published by Isabelle Bousquette on

To Cuff or Not to Cuff: A Definitive Guide to Surviving Cuffing Season

Winter Romance
Isabelle Bousquette | Avant-Youth

If Hallmark, Netflix and Mariah Carey have taught us anything, it’s that the holiday season is definitively romantic. This season, expect your small town lost love, a chivalrous medieval knight or a charming Aldovian prince to sweep you off your converse-wearing feet. If that doesn’t work, Justin Bieber is waiting for you under the mistletoe (“ooh-ooh-ooh”) and John Legend, the “sexiest man alive,” is here with a non-rapey version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” At the end of the day, one thing is clear: Winter is a time for finding love.

The link between winter and romance is so embedded into our collective subconscious that it’s earned a technical (Urban Dictionary-approved) term: it’s cuffing season. Cuffing season refers to the period from November to February when casual dates and flings quickly turn into serious relationships. 

The hot girl summer of bikini flirtationships is over. Cuffing season is about finding a long termer to keep us warm during the cold winter nights, help us get that perfect ice skating Insta, and placate any nosey family members who keep asking if we’re “seeing someone special.” Contrary to what you might think, there’s science behind it. 

During the winter, our bodies produce less serotonin due to lower levels of sunlight exposure. This can lead to seasonal affective depression or “Winter Blues.” Relationship expert, Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., explains that we’re often tempted to negate the effect of those blues by finding new love. Cornell Professor Vivian Zayas explains that finding new relationships provides an “effective boost” against seasonal depression. 

So the winter winds pick up and suddenly those Hinge dates who convinced you they were looking for “something casual” are popping back up with invitations to family holiday parties. If you’ve been lovelorn all summer, then cuffing season seems like a great opportunity to lock down your crush. Right? Right, but there are a few things to remember about any cuffing season relationship. 

First, be careful who you cuff. While Hallmark-style romances are built on a genuine, shared passion for having frosting fights in the kitchen, not all cuffing season relationships have such a solid foundation. Make sure you cuff with someone you genuinely like, rather than just someone you’ve grabbed to avoid winter loneliness. Otherwise, you might watch your relationship implode just in time for Valentine’s Day. 

If you have found your real-life Christmas Prince, then be careful not to move too fast. Cuffing season relationships are notorious for getting way too serious way too quickly. Think carefully about whether you’re ready to meet the other person’s family. Think really carefully about whether you’re ready to go Facebook official. (Once their great aunt posts a “congratulations, honey” comment, there’s no going back). 

Finally, the true question: To cuff or not to cuff? 

As much as cuffing season provides the spark for romance, it equally comes with an intense pressure to not be single. Seasonal depression is compounded by the idea that everyone around you is coupling up. According to relationship therapist, Erica Zajac, LCSW, women tend to feel that pressure the most. Pop culture representations of perfect holiday romances aren’t helping. 

So, the most important choice you make this cuffing season, might be the decision not to cuff. Take some time for yourself, or spend it with friends and family. Maybe, like Emma Watson, you’re deciding to “self-partner.” Or maybe you’re just genuinely embracing singleness. Remember that cuffing up is a great way to spend the winter, but it’s not the only way.

So cuff up or don’t. Either way, you can still enjoy cheesy holiday flicks and songs. And before you know it, you’ll be right back into Springtime Flingtime. 

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