As soon as Starbucks starts serving its beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte and people put their Ugg mini boots on standby, the memes start rolling in about finding a partner to shack up with to ward away the winter blues. This, my friends, is cuffing season.
According to merriam-webster.com, “cuffing season refers to a period of time where single people begin looking for short-term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year.” As per usual, urbandictionary.com’s definition is a bit more sinister, adding that during this period, “you settle for a new bf/gf way below your standards.”
Most people have a concept of cuffing season as starting in late fall and ending in early spring. As a result of this time constraint, most of the romantic relationships that emerge during this “season” are short-term and less serious. In reality — or my reality which is heavily based on fictional relationships — one partner typically becomes attached and expresses interest in pursuing a long-term relationship once the clock starts ticking, even after agreeing to something fun and temporary.
There’s a reason cuffing season takes place from October to March. In a womenshealthmag.com article, Marisa T. Cohen, an author, relationship researcher, and therapist explains that as the weather gets colder, people are less inclined to leave their homes and socialize. They’d much rather have someone they can spend meaningful time with without having to go outside.
Additionally, the cuffing season aligns with major holidays like Christmas and New Years, which have been heavily romanticized in films. People feel lonely and shameful when they have to spend these holidays without a partner because of social pressure. While there’s nothing wrong with showing up to holiday parties alone, movies push the narrative that you need some eye candy to parade around your colleagues and family.
While the cuffing season started off as a joke, it’s backed by science. There’s a biological reason people would much rather binge-watch crappy TV in bed with a time-sensitive snuggle buddy than brave the cold alone. Our ancestors depended on physical touch and warmth to survive, and, while freezing to death is no longer a common concern, our bodies still crave intimacy when the temperature drops.
For this reason, Colby students are no strangers to cuffing season. The long Maine winters when temperatures dip into the single digits, and JanPlan make students more inclined to enter relationships or find someone to hook up with.
An anonymous sophomore said, “I think I tend to get more lonely and crave physical touch when it’s cold. You literally have so much free time during JanPlan and it’s so cold that cuffing season makes sense.” An anonymous first year continued by stating that “There’s less mingling in the winter and fewer chances to meet new people so it makes sense to cuff up with someone and be more serious. It’s harder to find people [during this time of year] so I wish I had a more consistent thing.”
Seasonal depression also plays a role in this phenomenon. As the days get shorter and darker, people find it harder to be happy and engage in activities that usually bring them joy. Good company and sex are natural mood boosters that can help alleviate these feelings of sadness.
Cuffing season was introduced before the popularization of hookup culture and situationships. It’s possible that the dominance of hookup culture on college campuses could cause cuffing season to disappear altogether.
“I think the idea of hookup culture and how prevalent it is does conflict with the idea of cuffing season because people are probably less inclined to settle down with one person if they’re constantly surrounded by the idea of hooking up with new people,” continued the anonymous sophomore.
If you’re trying to avoid being cuffed, there are some telltale signs. Cosmopolitan.com says seven identifiers signal that someone is just looking for a cuff. These include a sense of urgency, plans that revolve around holiday events, and your partner only wanting to stay in and cuddle.
If you’re hoping to cuff someone, it’s important to communicate your desires to your partner as soon as possible. No one wants to find out that the person they’ve been gushing to their Mom about was just looking for some seasonal snuggles.
Whether or not you plan on doing so with a partner, stay safe and warm this winter. For those who are already scoping out their prospects and stocking up their rosters with potential cuffs, I wish you the best of luck.
~ Claire Campbell `26