I left my apartment to head to work this morning in my sundress I felt had not gotten enough wear this summer, only to walk outside and smell something peculiar. I stopped. It was a very particular smell, one that only comes once a year and every time it scares the living shit out of me. It was the slight smell of bitterness in the air, which most of us Northerners know indicates summer ever so slowly turning into fall. But us younger adults all know fall + colder weather – the options of summertime + thirst = cuffing season. It’s simple math.
As with most modern dating terms, “cuffing season” was something I was introduced to in college and immediately took issue with it. My freshman self was quick to ask “why is this a thing? Why would you put a time limit on a relationship before it even develops?” Now older and somewhat wiser I completely understand the concept of the cuff.
For those who are unfamiliar, “cuffing season” is the period between October-March (though the exact dates are debatedd) where all of a sudden everyone and their mother gets boo’ed up. You can’t walk down the street without wanting to throw up all over every hand-holding couple and the “good morning” texts your best friend receives every morning. I can only assume this “season” was created by a guy who wanted the perks of a girlfriend in the comfort of his own home during the cold winter months, but with an expiration date attached – so that come March, he could get back out there and start prepping for spring break and the months of summer flings ahead. The signs that cuffing season has begun are imminent: sweater dresses and boots start coming out, going out becomes less appealing, and dudes you haven’t heard from since Memorial Day all of a sudden creep out of the woodwork with a “hey stranger!” text. When you get this, know that winter is coming.
I am certainly not mad at whoever came up with this one because there is something brilliant about it – and I know many ladies who actively look to cuff because both sexes can agree that cuddling up on a Saturday night is infinitely more enjoyably than trekking through 12+ inches of snow to get to the bar. While some people want someone to come to their family’s Christmas dinner or ring in the New Year with, most of us just want someone to come over for take out, a movie, and fun. I do think there is some hope in all of us that our winter buddy will end up being something more, but that might just be me. I warned you that I am Drake-level soft.
The two things that irk me about this time of year is the expectation that a) you have to lower your standards for a winter boo and 2) there is a definite expiration date. I am personally not going to shack up all winter with someone I wouldn’t be bothered with in the summer, so when I decide to cuff someone, I refuse to pick someone with qualities I don’t want in a potential partner down the line. Also, geography plays a huge role on who is cuffed as nobody is trying to take an inter-borough commute during a storm.
As with all things, the terms of the cuff would have to be established beforehand to avoid (or try to avoid) potential heartbreak come Valentine’s Day. After all, this is more or less an agreement to satisfy both parties with whatever level of companionship they are looking for to get them through the cold, dark winter. Keep your eyes peeled and remain alert for the heightened level of thirst and “have a great day beautiful” texts as to not fall for the first person who tries to temporarily lock you down for 4-5 months. Do not be afraid to skip the BS and ride out your winter solo instead of lowering your standards just to tell your friends that you have a cuddle buddy on a Saturday night. Most of all, communication is key regardless of the season, so make sure you are getting what you want out of what should be a wonderful, mutually beneficial experience.