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Cuffing Season Survival Guide – According to Expert Matchmakers (2024)

When is cuffing season and what are the signs someone is trying to *cuff* you?

What and when is cuffing season?

“Cuffing season” is a period of time during the colder months of the year when people are more likely to seek out and commit to romantic relationships, and it’s typically defined as running from Halloween to Valentine’s Day. 

Data from the dating app Hinge indicates that men are 15% and women are 5% more likely to seek a committed relationship during winter than any other season. Match.com also sees significant peaks in business during the holiday season. Our intensified desire to “cuff up” during the colder months isn’t a new or digitally driven trend, though.

Why does cuffing season happen?

There are a few solid theories as to why cuffing season happens, rooted in biology, psychology, and even evolution. As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, our bodies produce more melatonin, a hormone that makes us a little less active and perhaps a little more cuddle-prone. During the winter, we’re more likely to spend time indoors and less likely to socialize, which can make us feel like our dating options are limited, and make us more likely to settle for someone we might not otherwise be interested in. And finally, evolutionarily, partnering up optimizes our chances of survival during a season with less access to resources. To boot, there’s some social pressure. The holidays are a time when we’re surrounded by couples, and this can make us feel like we need to be in a relationship, too.

Happily, being conscious of these factors can help you engage in cuffing season more mindfully. Let’s dig in. 

To cuff, or not to cuff…

The truth is that cuffing season could indeed influence you into forcing a connection that you otherwise wouldn’t entertain, so be careful. The other truth is that this rush toward pairing does widen your dating pool, and not just to those for whom you might be “settling.” Summer months for many otherwise intentional, emotionally available and relationship-oriented singles tend to fill up with trips, holidays, fitness, BBQs, and time with friends and family. Cuffing season might offer a sweet spot to find your next person, if you go in thoughtfully. But do go in thoughtfully. There’s no harm in short-term flings, but if you’ve had your cup’s fill of those by now, know that time committed to someone you’re not so convinced by is time away from opportunity to meet the right person.

Where to cuff: anywhere and everywhere

At Tawkify, we do matchmaking. We do this because it’s efficient, wildly effective, and we do it best. But if you’re dipping your toe into autumnal dating, want to go it on your own, and unsure where to begin, we’ve also got you covered. 

The best practice for finding people with similar interests, values, intellectual curiosities and lifestyles when out there on your own is to engage in your community and partake in activities you enjoy. This could be book clubs, sport or running clubs, collectives, volunteering, craft cocktail bars, and affinity groups. This could be almost anything that peaks your interest and exposes you socially to the types of people you’re hoping to meet. The sky’s the limit, so get creative. Get weird, even.

How to tell if someone is trying to cuff you 

Let’s say you’ve gone out with someone a few times and it’s going well. There are a few signs that someone might be trying to cuff you (which, just to stay clear and keep focus, is silly modern speak for dating more seriously). Those particularly interested might do any of the following:

  • Be more affectionate than usual
  • Talk about wanting to spend more time together
  • Start talking about the future
  • Ask you to be exclusive

If you’re not sure if someone is trying to cuff you, the best thing to do is to ask them directly what type of relationship they’re hoping to build. In response, we recommend to be honest with them about your own dating expectations, and make sure you’re on the same page.

Things to keep in mind during cuffing season

Here are a few things to keep in mind during cuffing season:

  • Be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a casual relationship, or something more serious? This is occasionally easier said than done, so give it some real thought.
  • Communicate your intentions to your partner! Don’t lead them on if you’re not interested in a long-term relationship.
  • Don’t rush into anything. Just because it’s cuffing season doesn’t mean you have to settle for the first (or second or fifth) person who comes along.
  • Be mindful of your own needs, and be sure not to neglect your friends, hobbies or responsibilities  just because you’re in a relationship.
  • And a big, final reminder: you’re not obligated to participate in cuffing season. 

If you’re not interested in being in a relationship, or if you’re not sure if you’re ready to settle down, that’s perfectly okay. Don’t feel pressured to cuff up just because everyone else is doing it.

Let’s talk about the holidays

It’s important to know that the cuffing season meaning is defined by your own style and preferences. We merely attempt to provide some context and a few best practices. That said, if you are actually engaging in dating during the holidays, here are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.

  • First, be proactive. You don’t have to wait for someone to come to you. Consider putting yourself out there and start dating. For inspiration for the coming months, check out our list of fall date ideas. Attend friends’ holiday parties and events, go ice skating or sledding, or volunteer. Find community, where possible, but also remember: the best first or second date ideas are activities or adventures that you’d be happy to try on your own. 
  • Second, be open to new experiences. Try new dating apps, go to different events, and meet new people. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. You really never can know who you might meet.
  • Third, know that dating during the holidays might mean exposing that person to your family. It’s natural to feel a bit of reticence there, for a number of reasons. Please know that doing this neither has to be a benchmark for furthered commitment nor a requirement to demonstrate it. Pacing on this is up to you. 
  • And fourth, be yourself! Don’t try to be someone you’re not just to attract someone. Be genuine and authentic, and the right person will be drawn to you. This also saves a lot of clean-up for later, when the real you shines through. You’re going to save a lot of energy getting buy-in on the real you nice and early. It’s honest and freeing. Trust us. 

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