Sweater weather, the first snow flakes, and nights at home snuggled up together binge watching Netflix? Yup, sounds like cuffing season to me.
What is cuffing season?
What’s cuffing season you ask? It’s the time of year that you search for someone good enough to “cuff up” with beginning around November, lasting through the holidays and colder winter months.
Cuffing season is all about enjoying the warmth of a cuddle buddy, instead of venturing out into the cold to meet up with potential dating duds. It does represent an exclusive commitment to one person.
Think of cuffing season like an elongated Netflix and chill that lasts for multiple months. A relationship that starts during this seasonal trend has both the potential to fizzle out, or to turn into something longer-term.
I actually began dating my husband during the start of cuffing season. We met on September 27th and dated casually for over a month. I had booked my Thanksgiving travel plans before we met, so he sent me home with his T-shirt that smelled like him so that I could sleep in it while I was away. By the first week in December we had an exclusivity conversation, and then celebrated the holidays together. On February 14th––Valentine’s Day for all of you non-romantics--we made it official and updated our Facebook profiles to the coveted BF/GF status!
Why is this a common time of year to settle down with a SO?
Let’s face it, this can be a pretty depressing time of year when all of your friends are coupled off and celebrating with their partners and you’re sitting on the couch drinking eggnog by yourself. No one likes to feel alone. We all want love, a sense of belonging and to matter to someone, so the benefits of cuffing season are that you’ve found a partner to enjoy, at least temporarily.
Now you can bring a date to all of the holiday parties and festive activities, avoid the pressure of your parents asking you why you never bring anyone home, or the dreaded conversation at the Thanksgiving table when your extended family pesters you about why you're still single. . Problem solved!
Plus, the bitter cold weather takes its toll on your dating mojo. It’s hard to feel sexy in a chunky sweater and snow boots, as your motivation wanes to walk through a blizzard in hopes of meeting a stranger at a bar, or an online date that definitely wasn’t worth your time.
It’s much easier and rewarding to cuff up and do fun coupley activities, like ice-skating, watching cheesy Christmas movies with a cup of cocoa, or a getaway ski weekend.
And let’s not forget that the company of another can help you ward off seasonal depression that comes with these long dark days and cold nights.
What are the downsides to cuffing season?
The risks of committing to someone during cuffing season are that you may be more inclined to settle for “good enough” instead of holding out for your perfect match. The motivation is selfish—to not be alone, rather than because you really see this new partner as “The One,” or at least having serious potential.
Can a relationship that starts during cuffing season last?
Relationships that kick off during cuffing season do have potential to last the long run, you just need to be aware of your reasons for dating someone exclusively.
If you’re dating with intent to find a long-term partner, than your relationship should be built on things such as shared core values, complimentary personality traits, effective communication and equal effort invested by both partners.
However, if your rationale for a commitment during cuffing season is solely that you don’t need to fly solo to holiday parties, you have someone to kiss on NYE, or because it's just someone to satisfy your sexual cravings, then when you come out of hibernation and defrost in the spring, your relationship will probably melt away too.
How can you tell if it’s just a seasonal fling or will go the distance?
A serious dater’s actions will match up with his or her words.
That means your new partner isn't just telling you he misses you and wants to see you, he’s actually making the effort to prioritize time with you, plan dates ahead of time, and even takes you out to brunch after a sleep over.
If your new SO is serious about you, he or she will take the time to pick out a thoughtful holiday gift, create that perfect playlist to listen together cozied up in bed, and will excitedly ask you to celebrate the holidays with his or her closest friends and family.
When you’re cuffed up, you’ll talk about future plans that span multiple seasons, like the fourth of July BBQ he can’t wait to take you to, or the Memorial Day weekend road trip she suggests to take together.
You’ll be developing a deeper sense of emotional intimacy, and growing as a couple as the weeks go by. To avoid any confusion about where you stand, confidently share your feelings and vision for a future together.
On the flip side, someone who is just in it for the season will likely communicate and spend time with you only when it’s convenient for them, will dodge “what are we” conversations, and avoids making future plans. Talk is cheap; actions are meaningful.
If you’re not sure how you’re feeling about the partner you’ve picked for cuffing season, ask yourself the following questions:
- What traits and qualities do I adore about this person?
- Am I making this person a priority in my busy life?
- Am I excited to introduce this person to my friends and family?
- Can I imagine celebrating holidays and traditions with this person all year round?
- Do I enjoy spending time together even when sex is off the table?
When you identify why you want to spend your time together, you’ll be able to figure out if you’re dating Mr. Right, or Mr. Right Now.
Cuffing season gets a bad rap because it implies people only want to date for a short period of time, the motivation is self-serving, and the feelings are disingenuous.
However, the reality is you can fall in love with someone any time of year.
If you date with intent, show up vulnerably, and ask for what you want, your connection can continue to develop long after the turkey dinners, candy canes, and Valentine’s Day chocolates have been eaten.