Is it just me or is there a new, trendy phrase that circulates throughout the continent just long enough to make an impact, but not long enough to make sense? Ghosting, mooning, and now cuffing? What is cuffing and what does “cuffing season” entail?

Good news: you’re probably not the only one out there left in the dark. Bad news: if you’re currently not cuffing with someone, you’re probably going to feel the effects of a miserable winter all by yourself. Instead of fretting over the dual predicaments of being single and not understand popular catchphrases, allow this explainer to guide you and hopefully save you from spending the holidays alone, frantically Googling the emotions you’re feeling.

1. What Is Cuffing Season?

Yeah, for real—in fact, you can forget cuffs ever existed when scrutinizing this phrase. As experts tell us, it’s nothing new at all, but rather a new terminology to describe something we’ve been doing for years.

Relationship expert, psychologist, and CEO of the matchmaking service, Lasting Connections, Sameera, offers her expertise:

“Cuffing season is that period of time between fall and the dead of winter when people start looking for someone they can spend those long, frigid months with,” says Sullivan.

That’s right, it’s the act of finding a significant other for the sole purpose of staying warm in the winter. “People who would normally rather be single find themselves desiring to be tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and spending lots of time inside makes people lonely, so they are looking for someone to spend this time with.”

“Cuffing season generally occurs when the temperature drops, around late fall through winter until the temperature starts to rise again—around May, continues Sullivan, “Cuffing Season is also common around the holidays. Everyone is going back home and do you really want to hear for the 5th time from Aunt Judy ‘Wow! You’re still single? When are you getting married?’ A lot of people feel that pressure before attending family gatherings around the holidays and feel the need to find someone to bring home.”

Sullivan makes the good point in acknowledging that no one wants to fall victim to the trap of having to explain to your relatives why you haven’t found “the one” yet.

“This is a hard time to be alone,” says Loveologist and sex expert Wendy Strgar. “It emerges as the darkness and cold descends.” Both, Strgar and Sullivan agree that this trend is fueled by the earth’s positioning to the sun and accounts for those kinds of relationships you won’t necessarily be interested in keeping when summer rolls along.

2. How Do You Cuff?

It’s actually way easy to cuff with someone. It’s about as easy as hooking up, but simply requires a bit more maintenance to keep the relationship afloat.

“The action is about becoming more committed, continues Strgar. “So nowadays that might mean more use of dating apps and maybe a tendency to carry on with what might have been a casual hookup.” So, does that mean that relationships born from the cuff are less meaningful than others? Strgar seems to think so. “Although it is now discussed as a new millennial invention, the yearning to couple is as old as the hills.  Winter forces us to internalize more, and then as we take stock of what we are doing and who we are doing it with — we question the meaning and relevance of our lives. This is always what drives people towards more relationship.”

3. Should You Cuff? 

If you’re the type of person who loves being single then it must be a real shock to the system to suddenly want to stay home all night and cuddle. The big question is: what do you do when the sun thaws us out and we find ourselves “stuck” with the person we’ve been with for months?

“The danger of extending hookups is that they might not have enough context or back bone to turn into something trustworthy and loving, which then becomes part of the cuffing story, that relationships are limiting—like handcuffs—and ultimately not rewarding,” says Strgar. Regardless of it seeming like a trend we’ll get over, this is just how some people find relationships.

“It’s something everyone does and it’s simply human nature,” Sullivan, who simply recognizes cuffing season as a way of life. “Most births occur in September, nine months after January’s brutal temperatures, because it keeps couples locked indoors. Cuffing season technically existed before the current hook-up culture we live in and it still exists everywhere.”

Strgar agrees with the opinion and offers the idea of a possible solution.

“Calling this desire to couple and become part of something bigger is a millennial trend, but the need and desire to belong to someone and feel held in a relationship is innately human and has always been so. It is interesting how it has turned into a reflection of a phobia to relationship.”

Where does that leave those in mid-cuff? Like Sullivan says, there are positive ways to look at it that go hand-in-hand with the negative. Maybe your “part-time significant other” is nothing more than a product of the environment, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up and go with the motions.

“It would be nice if more positive language about the gifts and challenges of building a relationship was part of the discussion,” continues Sullivan. “Then people might have a fighting chance at making it work into summer.”

RELATED: How To Tell If You're Just Being "Cuffing Seasoned"

Whether you’ve found yourself in a now-dedicated relationship because you’re too cold to go outside or have upped the ante with your one-Tinder date because you actually like them, the point is that you need to talk to them to find out if you’re on the same page. Maybe you’re both in this for the long haul and want to bring what you have into summer—when hookup season begins—or maybe you want to kill it before you accidentally end up with a cuff baby.

Regardless of how you feel, talk to your partner and figure it out — there will be plenty of winters and summers in the future.


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