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Cuffing Season: What Is It and When Does It Start?

Every year as the weather cools down, singles have to make a decision: do they power through the winter alone, or find someone cozy to snuggle up to? Around this time of year, people who would otherwise play the field or enjoy remaining single now feel the urge to be tied down.


What Is Cuffing Season?

What exactly is cuffing season? The word “cuffing” is an abbreviation for “handcuffing,” since you’re metaphorically getting shackled to someone else — at least until it’s safe to go out in a t-shirt again! It’s no secret that the holidays are better with company.

It can be especially depressing for singles when companies are churning out Christmas rom-coms by the dozen, or they’re stuck watching couples get more lovey-dovey as the weather drops. This is especially true as the chilly weather holidays usually culminate in February with Valentine’s Day.

Generally speaking, cuffing season lasts from October to February and includes fall and winter. It’s more or less considered slang for hookups or casual relationships where the main activities are holiday events and Netflix and chill. However, cuffing season can include something more serious, or a recurring partner each season.


Rules of Cuffing Season

While some cuffing situations are mutual, if you suspect that you’re being used as a “cuff” rather than a long term relationship, look out for red flags like a partner only wanting to hang out at holiday events or showing you off rather than making authentic attempts to get to know you.

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If you do partake in cuffing season, remember to keep things honest and stay on the same page. Setting clear expectations and boundaries is essential, and no matter the nature of the relationship, check in with the other person to make sure the understanding stays mutual.

When you meet someone new, it can be tempting to hibernate and binge TV with them when it’s cold outside, but be sure to stay connected to your hobbies, friends, and family members to avoid the feelings of isolation that cuffing season is meant to prevent in the first place.


Why Is Getting ‘Cuffed’ So Tempting?

For starters, it’s a given that you won’t be stuck solo when everyone else is wearing couples costumes on Halloween, making eyes at their plus-ones at holiday parties, and kissing when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Add the aftermath of a pandemic, and all those effects are doubled.

In the summer, people generally feel more carefree about meeting partners — after all, who isn’t happy in the summer, regardless of their relationship status? However, unless you live in a spot that’s warm year-round, seasonal depression is a very real thing. SAD is caused by the reduced amount of sunlight during the fall and winter seasons, which affects our circadian rhythm and serotonin levels. SAD or not, the winter blues are definitely a real thing.

During the holidays, we’re all looking for a little comfort. But it’s important during these times to practice acts of self-love, to remind yourself that you’re more than enough on your own. It’s also a great moment to remember that there’s no shame in going to therapy and talking out your holiday blues.

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Self-love expert Jenna Banks told SPY, “Regardless of your reasons for getting into a relationship, it’s important to remember to still prioritize your relationship with yourself. This is important to maintaining a healthy balance between loving another and loving yourself.

“Whether you are single or in a relationship, the goal should be to be a ‘whole’ person on your own. We don’t need anyone else to complete us or to make us happy. Your partner should be the maraschino cherry on your already-delicious fudge sundae.”

And If you’re not ready to be in any kind of relationship but are still experiencing the holiday blues, remember that there are equally fulfilling things you can do with your community. The same goes for those in long-distance relationships who can’t be with their partners this season.

Cuffing season means something different for everyone, depending on your lifestyle. Maybe it’s just a hookup, but it might also be something more — if you’re on the same page, that is. Regardless, cuffing season is a reminder to say present and live in the moment, even though it might not be a shortcut to your ultimate goal. After all, we’re all just out there trying to connect in one way or another.

Ready to get in on cuffing season this year? Be sure to check out our list of the best dating apps to try in 2021.


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