By: Adrienne Martin
It’s that time of year again. The leaves are turning their shades of red and orange, soon to abandon their branches as they fall to the ground. The temperature is quickly getting colder, and frost faithfully greets us in the wee hours of the morning. Layering is now the day-to-day fashion trend, while Pumpkin Spice latte’s have become the beverage of choice.
Yes, it’s that time of year again: cuffing season. That time of year between fall and winter when many men and women alike begin their seasonal search for a soul mate, it’s proven itself to be far more than just a term in the Urban Dictionary. But for many, cuffing season is a time where there’s increased pressure to not be alone. With the colder temperatures forcing people to stay indoors and the holiday festivities in full swing, loneliness can quickly become a feeling hard to ignore.
For those who are used to being in a relationship, newfound singleness can be a driving force in the desire and perceived need to find a seasonal mate. Often times, this pressure can be the very reason one rushes into a bad relationship (or worse, into the arms of a serial cuffer). Whether consciously or subconsciously, the quest for Winter Bae—someone with who you can Netflix and Chill, spend the holidays with and kiss on New Year’s—begins.
Let’s face it: Cuffing season is often a trap.
The reasons behind this seasonal trend are both mystifying and humorous. Although there’s great debate around its actual legitimacy, there’s something to be said about the many trends that conveniently take place during cuffing season. Many popular dating sites have reported sharp increases in the number of registrations and users during the winter months. For Match.com and Plenty of Fish, the days immediately following New Year’s are the sites’ busiest, while on the Hinge dating app, male users are reportedly 15 per cent more likely to want a relationship during the same period.
Of course, there are also scientific explanations used to support the cuffing season experience. Some say that similarly to animals that hibernate, humans have a biological need to find a mate during the winter. In a piece for MTV Life, clinical psychologist Dr. Wendy Walsh went so far as to use mankind’s “evolutionary history” as evidence to support the phenomenon.
Still have doubts? Well, let me remind you: In 2013, rapper Fabolous dropped an entire track called “Cuffin Season,” while many notable publications including The New York Times have explored the subject in various pieces since then.
But what about the lesser discussed emotional trap cuffing season can create?
Arguably, the most interesting thing about cuffing season is that it’s exactly that—a season. While it’s not entirely impossible that a winter “cuff” might turn into something long-term, if you’re not careful, you just might find yourself “as disposable as a winter jacket” come springtime, as one close friend of mine described her own cuffing season experience.
“I really thought we were both on the same page, looking for something long term,” she told me. “But turns out, I was only needed for the winter!”
“I just find the whole idea of ‘cuffing season’ to be toxic. If you don’t go into it with the right mindset, you can find yourself in trouble,” she explained.
But exactly how does one navigate the perils of cuffing season when many people who participate in the seasonal activity likely aren’t even aware of their own involvement (you never realize you’re in a relationship until you’re in a relationship)? The solution is simple: be real.
If your search for a partner is driven by loneliness, boredom, insecurity or the simple desire to have a binge-watching partner, you probably shouldn’t be in a relationship, this season or any other. Figure out what you’re looking for and why— it’s often the key to avoiding unnecessary heartache and pain in the long run.
Of course, this isn’t to say there’s anything inherently wrong with indulging in the fun and pleasures of cuffing season (if you’re down for the chase, may the odds be ever in your favour). But this is to say that it’s perfectly OK—and sometimes even necessary—to spend the season on the sidelines.
After all, the cuffing life isn’t for the faint of heart.