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Cuffing Season: What it is and Why it Exists

by Ananya Panchal

photography courtesy of Thuy-Anh Nguyen

Crisp red leaves are beginning to fall. Timberlands and earmuffs are making an appearance. It’s officially festive coffee cup season, wear-all-your-winter-gear-at-once season and the infamous ‘cuffing’ season.

According to Urban Dictionary, this annual phenomenon happens “during the Fall and Winter months [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.”

In other words, cuffing season is the human version of a mating season. Basically, during the last couple and first couple months of the year, people are more likely to want a cuddle buddy that turns into a Valentine rather than a one-night-stand.

To back up this social occurrence, a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine has even found that physical coldness led to a significantly increased feeling of loneliness.

Maybe with all the Christmas shopping for other people, people just don’t have the money or energy to invest in a new sweatshirt so they rely on the body heat of others. Or, maybe, it’s the fact that at some point a person can’t handle another holiday party having to answer questions like “When will you find someone?” or “Why are you still single?”

Elliot Chudyk (GRS ’19) took a “social stab” at the reason cuffing season exists. Chudyk thinks human sexual behavior stems from interactions and social life.

Chudyk said they believe that the processes starts in the beginning of fall, when college students return to campus and dive back into the world of hookup culture.

“Hookup culture is linked to partying and frat parties mostly happen in the summer and early September,” Chudyk said. “People are going to parties and are more fluid in terms of wanting to have more sexual partners and just a free-for all.”

Cuffing season sparks as students would rather stay in than crawl down fraternity rows in freezing temperatures, Chudyk said. Students want something more than a random make out session.

“Then, in the winter months when party culture slows down, you have more people wanting to make connections which explains the seasonal aspect of cuffing season,” they said.

However, there is also evidence that may discredit the reality of “cuffing season.” Psychology Today conducted an online survey in 2017 asking 101 single people in the U.S. if they believed in cuffing season. There was no difference of opinion between those experiencing winter weather and those who weren’t. Evidently, cuffing season might just be a societal pressure that’s all in the head.

Besides, who wants to limit themselves to only one slice of pie because of fear of what a new boo will think?

While there may be some biological data supporting the idea that people feel alone when the weather gets cold, it’s all a matter of whether someone believes in the “cuffing” season or not. Sometimes a person is ready for a relationship, but the relationship has to be ready for them, too. No amount of snow on the ground or speed of wind is going to change that.

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