When the temperature drops, so do serotonin levels. And so the need for some warmth and a mood boost welcomes the annual “cuffing season”.
Cuffing season is the period between autumn and spring when the usual “hot girl summer” talk is replaced with the desire to find someone to pair up with.
Dr. Holly Richmond, a certified sex therapist and author of Reclaiming Pleasure: A Sex-Positive Guide for Moving Past Sexual Trauma and Living a Passionate Life, believes it’s good for people’s mental health to not be isolated. But in reality, cuffing has become more of a toxic social pressure than a genuine act.
Cuffing season has contributed to the toxic idea that you simply cannot be single and happy during the holidays. Somehow, being in love has become a measure of happiness. If you are single during the festive season, something has to be wrong. Is cuffing just another way for society to validate us? It sure does feel like an added weight.
With the holiday trifecta of Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day, the winter months compel us to couple up. Lacking someone to talk to, grab a cup of coffee with or cuddle on the couch watching a cheesy romcom leaves us feeling despaired and lonely. But why? It doesn’t help when most of the movies on our screens are based on having someone to take home for the holidays. This is my fifth year of being single for the holidays. And by single, I mean not in an official relationship. But in recent years as the dreaded cuffing season approached, I found myself giving attention to or going on dates with guys I probably wouldn’t have the rest of the year. Three guesses whose heart was always left broken by March of the following year.
As cuffing season comes to end, April showers appear. And I’m not talking about rain; I’m referring to the tears from eyes. Hibernating with someone just for the sake of having someone is selfish and damaging – unless both parties are clear about their intentions from the start.
“Cuffing season stems from our biological need and desire to survive and be close to one another during difficult periods,” says Jake Ernst, psychotherapist and clinical director at Straight Up Health in Toronto. As humans, we have an innate desire for companionship. I fully understand that during the colder months this desire intensifies. But I can’t understand the idea of pairing up with another just to fill a seasonal void. Some people, like myself, have feelings and date with purpose of finding everlasting love. Coupling up with someone with the intention of dumping them as soon as hot girl summer is on the horizon is toxic AF.
This year, the Omicron variant once again locked us down with the desire to be “cuffed”. If you’re anything like me, the fear of being alone isn’t just about not wanting to feel lonely. It’s because it’s easier to find fulfilment in companionship than doing the work within to fulfil yourself. Snowfall will tempt you to cuddle up while isolation will deceive you into believing you can’t be alone with yourself. But not wanting to be alone is not a good enough reason to rush into a relationship.
Alone time is the best time to assess yourself. To discover where you’re at mentally and emotionally, what you want in a relationship and to fill any inner voids by yourself. Being self-aware is the best way to attract a like-minded partner, the right partner for you. You’ll know your worth and your value, and you won’t settle for less than you deserve. Jumping into a relationship for the reasons will not fill that inner void, it will linger.
Why not use this season to reconnect with yourself? Why not research something that’s interests you? Learn a new skill, instrument or language? Ask yourself: what is missing from your life? What do you feel passionate about? What excites you?
Don’t fall for the hoax of cuffing season by failing to read the fine print. If you are looking for more than a FWB for a few months, stay away from cuffing season. A partner to attend holiday festivities with and to cuddle as the nights get colder is appealing. But if you’re not ready to commit, spare yourself the headache that will come when cuffing season melts away. Use this time to find love and comfort in yourself.
As Jake Ernst said, “self-compassion goes a long way.” So continue to be kind to yourself and don’t blame yourself for feeling down and lonely. There are many ways to get through the holidays alone. Ernst reminds us that we can find deep and meaningful relationships with pets, hobbies and ourselves. That longing for companionship does not have to filled with another human; find something that brings you true and long-lasting joy and comfort.