Dating Glossary: Cuffing Season

Prepare for hibernation, soldiers.

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As dating has evolved to a much more digital landscape, a slew of new words and trends have emerged, requiring singles to brush up on their knowledge before diving in. To ensure you’re up to date and ready to tackle the ever-changing vocabulary, reference Datezie’s Dating Glossary. Our collection defines, explains—and offers humor and strategy—to the new ABC’s of falling in love.

TLDR: Cuffing season: when singles actively seek a partner once the weather transitions from warm to cold temperatures.

The second the first chill hits the air, the run-of-the-mill posts begin: ‘It is almost time to put up the Christmas tree!’ or ‘Can’t wait for sweater weather!’ or ‘Praying for a snow day’ or ‘Look at my first #PSL of the year!’ The movement of seasons means plenty of shifts—from our wardrobes to our dinner choices—and also, thanks to a new dating term, a name for a relationship status. Like with plenty of terms that have become hashtags in recent years, the concept of getting in a serious relationship in the winter has always been a thing, even with cavemen. It’s just now, there’s an easy way to explain it. If you keep hearing about ‘cuffing season’ but you’re scratching your head trying to understand it, consider yourself schooled. Here’s what you need to know as those leaves float away, and the blizzard blows in:

What is Cuffing Season?

Unlike most modern dating terms that go against rainbows, butterflies and fuzzy feelings, ‘cuffing season’ actually has rather positive definition. Most of the time, anyway. Psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. explains it refers to a period of time—typically fall or winter to be exact—where people who preferred to be single are in the market for a full-blown, committed relationship. ‘Cuffed’ as you might remember from English class means ‘committed’—hence the name. So why the change in spirit “This change of attitude is believed to be due to it getting dark earlier—as well colder—and people spending more time indoors, all of which can increase a person’s loneliness and desire for a closer connection to someone,” she explains.

Where Did ‘Cuffing Season’ Come From?

Dr. Thomas says ‘cuffing season’ is actually thought to be connected to hundreds of thousands of years ago to hunter-and-gatherer days, when reproducing became rampant in the cold weather. It makes sense if you think about it. You produce heat when you’re bumping in a cave, and it helps to pass the time. Especially when crops have come to a hiatus and animals are hiding away from the freeze, too. Nowadays, people tend to make a baby year-round, giving the term a modern rebirth in 2011, according to dating expert and founder of CupidsPulse Lori Bizzoco. This was the year it was officially introduced to Urban Dictionary, and two years later, it became even more widespread when rapper Fabolous released a track ‘Cuffin Season.’

Why Cuffing Season Matters

Most of the time, cuffing season applies to your life one of two ways: either you’re hoping to be cuffed up, or you’re doing the cuffing yourself. It goes a little somethin’ like this: throughout summer, you’re flinging around with several people, until inevitably, you tend to favor a specific someone more. The days grow shorter, jackets are pulled out of the closet, brunch turns into hot toddies… and you’re suddenly in a mock relationship. The arrival of cuffing season suggests you should go ahead and make that connection official, so you don’t need to worry about flirting with other people when the temperature drops below zero.

While this is, well, logical-ish, Bizzoco warns it can sometimes raise more questions than it answers. “It is important to know what ‘cuffing season’ is because you’ll want to know if somebody is truly interested in being with you… or if it’s just because they don’t want to be alone during the winter,” she shares.

Many couples tend to rush into a level of seriousness they aren’t quite ready for, fooled by visions of cute duo photos in front of pumpkin patches or skiing trips with their friends. It can be tricky to slide into the long run before you’re ready, since it puts pressure on your budding infatuation. Bizzoco says ‘cuffing season’ can give people a false sense of like or love—and sometimes, for selfish reasons. “During this time, if you choose to date, it’s important to try and distance yourself from the idea that you need a partner and first decide if being in a relationship is what you truly want,” she continues. “If you know that this is just a temporary fling, be up front about your intentions from the beginning so feelings aren’t hurt in the end.”

Where You Might Hear About Cuffing Season

Truth be told? The internet will talk to a nauseum about ‘cuffing season’—which in itself could trigger you to think of your summer romance differently. Your friends who are notorious for dating around might also discuss the topic with you, throwing out phrases like ‘Man, I need to cuff my girl up, it’s getting cold’ or ‘I better download Tinder, it is cuffing season and guys want to cuddle!’

How to Use Cuffing Season in Conversation

If you’re ready to join in on the slang, remember you probably shouldn’t discuss ‘cuffing season’ with the person you want to cuff. Bizzoco says it could send the wrong message, if they associate the notion with a temporary relationship, as opposed to one that could last year-round, for several years. Instead, keep cuffing chats to your circle of pals, who understand where you’re coming from. You can use it as a noun, or as a verb since you can ‘cuff’ someone to make them your mate. And if you successfully made it Facebook official? ‘Cuffed’ works in that situation.

Notable Cuffing Season Quotes

“Cuffing season is back. All side pieces need to be returned to their rightful owners. See you next summer.” —Unknown

“Tis the season to be in your feelings. The ones that usually involve scrolling through your Contacts and sliding into DMs once the summer’s through. As the mercury on the thermometer dips, radars for a b.u.d.d.y. go up (no Tuesday required).” —Vibe

Cuffing Season usually runs from Labor day and continues through Halloween. This is the period where most singles, mostly men, come to the realization that they do not want to be alone during the holiday season .They realize that they would like to have a cuddle buddy to either: A) Keep them warm as the weather gets colder. Or B) A trophy to show off at family, career or friendly gatherings. This is how we avoid the uncomfortable “when are you going to settle down?” conversations with their peers.” —Cameron Ganatt

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