What is cuffing season? The seasonal attachment habit of which we’re all guilty
The colder months signify a certain change in mindset when it comes to romance. A night out on the town with your single friends seems much less tempting when you have to wear 46 layers in order to step outside. Short days and long, cold nights encourage the hermit within even the most dedicated social butterfly. More indoor-centred activities start to become preferable, such as wrapping up in snug blankets, gorging on comfort television, and drinking warming hot chocolate after hot chocolate. Add a partner into the mix and suddenly wiling away the winter nights becomes a much more appealing prospect.
But what if you don’t happen to be in a relationship, and the idea of crying at Love Actually, shivering alone in your bed, is just too daunting to fathom? Here enters cuffing season. Defined by Urban Dictionary as the phenomenon whereby “During the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves, along with the rest of the world, desiring to be ‘cuffed’ or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity cause singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”
This idea of being lonely when single certainly seems to be exacerbated by the cold weather when the natural human instinct seems to be to curl up, ultimately with another human by your side. For even the most fulfilled of individuals, it is a common emotion to feel most alone during these mundane moments of life. The very ordinary and slow-paced nature of the winter season (the sensible sister to summer’s heady hedonism) allows for this feeling to grow and understandably leads to the desire to ‘cuff’ oneself to another.
Not only does cold, inhospitable weather encourage the surge of Christmas couples, but also the general atmosphere surrounding the festive period. The festive season is a time when people come together. There are many family occasions, office Christmas drinks, parties with friends… All of which can often be all that more approachable with someone to shoulder them with. A temporary partner works well to subdue the queries about your marital status from well-meaning family members and relentless Christmas films based around finding your ideal romantic partner (just in time for Father Christmas’ arrival!) are significantly more palatable when you have someone there, who will do just for now.
Surely then, everyone’s a winner? Cuffing can be a mutual understanding where both parties understand they are fulfilling a winter contract. The saying, ‘friends for a reason, friends for a season, friends for a lifetime’ could feasibly also apply to romantic relationships. The season: winter and the reason: holiday blues. However, when you are in hibernation mode, biding your time in a good (but crucially, not good enough to last) relationship, are you holding yourself back from meeting someone else? Or are you even just wasting time on someone with a New Year expiry date, when you could be spending your time doing something you love?
The concern is that ‘cuffing’ yourself, or shackling yourself to someone, for the sake of not being alone is unhealthy. It is understandable that in colder times we wish to be closer to others, but why must this be a romantic partner? We should try not to fetishise romantic relationships as being the only possible antidote to loneliness. Love can manifest in the form of friends and family, and thus provide the solace we need to get through the winter months. That said, if temporarily coupling up is mutually beneficial to you and makes you happy then, by all means, cuff away – at least until such a time when it becomes ‘new year, new me.’
- Mia Sharp