Cuffing season is weird; leave it behind. 

Welcome to Chelsea’s brand new dating column ‘Outside Of Love’, bringing you her latest musings on love, sex and relationships.

“So, are you and Charlie still talking?”

I hadn’t even had the chance to order a drink before Lucy, my best friend since college, was already asking me about my love life. I took in her star-filled gaze that, if you looked closely enough, could spot Mr Wrong and Me walking down the aisle together. I’d barely even had the opportunity to ask about her life as an independent, hard-working young woman in the city before the conversation had become all about who we were dating.

This is how it had always been since we were twelve years old. But I still insisted, “Let’s talk about YOU first?” I said it playfully with a smile on my face. I was making a particular effort not to make her feel like I’d shut her down. Upon my return home, I was slightly bothered by the result of that brunch.

How could a group of genuinely educated, engaging and fun young women spend 90% of their time together discussing men?

It felt like something I should have left behind in secondary school or 2nd year of University at the latest. But here I was, hearing Lucy respond to how she was, with an incredibly detailed update on her summer romance—following up, with her equally lengthy description of how she was going to convert this summer fling into a more meaningful long-term relationship over the winter. 

“We’ve had a good couple of months, but everything’s going to change now that we’re going into September,” Lucy said. Detecting the slight concern in her voice, I asked why anything had to change. It’s not like this summer in London had much to offer anyway. Her response was one of surprise as if the writing was already on the wall.

“Well, it’s cuffing season. The vibes are completely different, so he’ll probably be willing to spend more time with me now.”

I had to admit that I judged her for a moment. I hated that she judged this man’s actions solely on the season and not on the actions themselves. I hated the fact that she had spent most of her summer making excuses for his lengthy gaps in communication whilst living his best life on Instagram stories, all in the name of hot boy summer

There was a dating rule that we had all unintentionally acknowledged and lived by: all bets were off when the sun was out. Any romantic interaction during the holidays could not be taken too seriously and only validated when the colder months tested their true depth. Any sunshine that would come around again would be another test on how deep those roots were. I don’t believe any of us girls liked this rule, and yet here we were, drawing up a game plan in the middle of an Italian cafe in East London.  

It was a hard pill to swallow, but I had found myself in this cycle time and time again. Though I judged Lucy momentarily, when it was my turn to talk about what was going on in my love life, I found myself to be in the same position; attempting to turn a ‘hot boy’ into boyfriend material as cuffing season approached. According to Cosmopolitan,

“Cuffing season is when people start to want to be tied down in a serious relationship”.

Licensed clinical psychologist Dara Bushman, PsyD says, “The cold weather and lack of outdoors and sunshine causes singles to become lonely and desperate.” 

A feeling that can become quite daunting in a season full of festivities like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, all holidays marketed as the height of potential romantic moments in pop culture and movies.   

 Bushman continues to say, “People tend to feel more lonely during these months and have higher levels of testosterone, driving people to cuff up. In the winter, days are shorter and colder—with less outside activity. Feelings of isolation and boredom start to set in.” Meaning that our desire to be in romantic couples during the winter season has more to do with our unreliable chemicals and insecurities than our actual willingness to be in long-term, committed relationships. 

The fall out of cuffing season every year is as predictable as rain in England. On the first day of Spring, gyms lower their prices, summer dresses are dusted off and all of the couples that were littering your feed with Winter Wonderland selfies and Valentine’s Day’s posts are nowhere to be seen. By the time June rolls around, there might as well be a sign that reads, ‘all victims of unrequited love and broken-hearts, 50% off cocktails and tapas’. That way, the economy can improve every summer as the broken-hearted find their healing in the bottom of a pornstar martini. 

Cuffing season sets the majority of us up for failure.

Though it may attract the lonely romantics of this world, it also unleashes a lot of opps into the dating pool. I have learned that a person who is ready to be in a relationship will be prepared to do so, regardless of the temperature outside. In the same way, if a person only desires short-lived romantic affairs, they will intentionally pursue this with individuals all year round.

The temporary promise of love, affection and company that cuffing season brings to a cold, lonely and bored society (according to Dr. Bushman). Will be doomed never to learn the necessary skills to build healthy and loving relationships or, better yet, learn to face the cold season alone but not lonely. For that reason, I’m putting my middle finger up to cuffing season this year and hope (for the right reasons) you do too. 

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