The weather turns cold, office Christmas parties loom in your imminent future, and suddenly you find yourself wishing for a relationship. If this sounds typical for you, you're not alone. So many people yearn for a relationship in the fall and winter, even though they're completely happy being single the rest of the year, that there's a name for the feeling — and the short-term relationships it spawns.
It's called cuffing season, and the term first appeared in Urban Dictionary in 2011, defined as, a time during Autumn and Winter when "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 causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed."
In this definition, "cuffed" or "cuffing" refers to being "handcuffed" to another person, because you want to tie yourself to someone else, at least temporarily. Cuffing season typically starts around the beginning of fall and ends when it's no longer too frigid to do anything outside. And the appeal of a cold-weather partner (whether or not most people realise their relationship will be temporary) is pretty clear. Who doesn't want someone to cuddle with on the couch with Netflix and popcorn when they can't spend their weekends in the park? Or someone they can bring to Christmas parties so their aunts and uncles don't question why they're not in a relationship?
Yet, the evidence for cuffing seasons seems to be mostly anecdotal, and some experts are skeptical. "It’s all good fun, and a nice new urban legend, but based on what I’ve seen, cuffing season isn’t biological,” Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University, told Splinter. "There’s no reason to believe that such a thing exists." So there's likely no biological urge driving cuffing season, but it's possible that psychology has something to do with it. Some studies have claimed that cold weather makes people feel more lonely. And the cold weather months also bring a whole slew of social events (like those family or office holiday parties) that people may not want to attend alone.
Some data also backs up the idea that lots of relationships bloom in fall and winter and then wither when the weather gets warm. According to data from Facebook, people often change their relationship status to "in a relationship" between October and February. And a ton of people change their status back to "single," in March (you know, when spring is just beginning).
So is every relationship that happens to start during cuffing season doomed to fail once summer rolls around? Of course not. People get into relationships all year 'round, and the weather can only have so much sway over when and why someone decides to settle down. But if you're considering defining the relationship with someone during cuffing season, think about why you want the relationship. If it's just because you want someone to warm you up while the snow falls, then consider forgoing the relationship for a fling. After all, casual sex can keep you plenty warm, too.