Falling for Someone During Cuffing Season? Just Don’t Get Duped
Dating during cuffing season (around October to March) is a lot like shopping for things on sale. Basically, you end up going home with something you didn’t really want or need in a size that doesn’t quite fit you. You made a decision without much thought involved just because it was cheap, convenient and better than leaving the store empty-handed.
That’s not to say that falling in love is totally impossible during these months, but according to psychologist Dr. Nancy Irwin, our predisposition to lock down a partner when the weather turns chilly may be more about how we’re hardwired, not about the desire to find someone we’re compatible with.
“Colder months generally inspire us to literally ‘cuddle up’ for warmth,” she says. “This goes back to our caveman mentality when we needed mates to survive. This is still in our DNA after all these millennia.”
Is there any avoiding this? Are we all doomed to settle into mediocre relationships once cuffing season takes hold of our psyche?
Here’s a look at the science behind cuffing season, how you may feel during it and how to determine whether or not you’re becoming a victim of this phenomenon.
What Makes People Want to Couple Up During the Colder Months?
It’s not just surviving the cold that moves us to want to cuddle up during cuffing season — it’s also a line of defense against the seasonal blues.
“Human touch increases dopamine levels which can counteract seasonal blues as well as a drop in our serotonin levels,” explains Elisa Robyn, PhD. “Our hormones change due to the shorter days and many people struggle with winter blues. Being in a relationship can help these feelings.”
Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a psychologist and marriage counselor, also points out that fall and winter months tend to keep us indoors, leading to that potential increase in isolation. In turn, that bumps up your desire for a companion.
Another draw for coupling up during cuffing season? Knowing that without a partner, you’ll have to attend all those dreaded holiday get togethers all by your lonesome. “There is a little added pressure to find someone to take to all the holiday parties, or to tell family that you are dating someone when those dreaded questions [about your relationship status] come up during Thanksgiving dinner,” says Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes.
How to Handle Cuffing Season Without Getting Your Heart Broken
If you don’t want biology to get the best of you, your best bet is to stay objective.
“Smart singles will tread carefully and look for clues if they feel like a ‘generic’ partner versus an ideal, special one,” says Irwin. “Stay true to your values, desired traits and goals for a relationship and partner. Be firm in your commitment to yourself and hold out for the real deal.”
Basically, don’t just jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. Sure, we can note that opposites do attract, but that can also be a sign you’re in a relationship of cuffing convenience.
“Ask yourself, would you normally be attracted to your new partner?” says Fisher. “If it’s someone you typically wouldn’t be attracted to, there’s a good chance it’s simply because of cuffing season.”
To stave off the loneliness and isolation that inevitably happens when the weather turns down a few degrees, Robyn suggests embracing your circle of friends. Whether it’s a standing weekly hangout hosted at one of your places, or maybe it involves pulling the trigger on getting tickets to that football game you’ve been talking about, having something to look forward to will keep you from getting yourself into a relationship out of boredom.
If you want to take it a step further, you can also plan a trip to get away from the cold (if timing and budget allows, that is).
“This is a great season to take a vacation, a class or perhaps a volunteer trip,” says Robyn. Think about this as a time to have new and exciting experiences that you can talk about in the new year.”
There is something to keep in mind: Being discerning about who you choose to date during cuffing season, and avoiding dating altogether because you’re afraid of getting hurt, are things that Rhodes cautions against.
“Connections typically happen for a reason,” she says. “These are often karmic in nature and the other person may simply show up for a few months to highlight a lesson you need to learn before a true soulmate appears. If we live in fear of these relationships, we only deprive ourselves of intimacy. If one of them shows up, enjoy it for what it is, learn the lesson that needs to be learned and move on when it is time to move forward.”
Don’t stop yourself from dating — just be smart about it. This cuffing season, if you feel like the person you’re into is only looking to combat the cold, tell them to put on a sweater.
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