Your Guide To Navigating Cuffing Season Like A Pro

The winter chill has us all digging deeper into our blankets, but are you missing out on companionship and body heat? We’re entering cuffing season, and here’s how to get through it without becoming a victim or a heartbreaker.

By Aditi
28 Nov 2022

We all need a security blanket to turn to when things get bad, especially when winter rolls around. The morning chills may get you looking for a cuddle partner to snuggle with and that’s how we know cuffing season is upon us.

It may feel like a real relationship, that is, until things unexpectedly break off just as the weather gets warmer. Whether you’re the one being cuffed or the one doing it, the one thing you need to avoid at any cost is long-term heartbreak. Here’s how to navigate cuffing season without a trail of broken hearts:


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Cuffing Season: Meaning and The Lowdown

As the temperatures get lower and the urge to snuggle up increases, the advent of short-term relationships starts. Cuffing relationships usually start somewhere around early November, and end just as summer starts to show up, around late March.

Most people might find themselves unfamiliar with the term, but they’re definitely familiar with the phenomenon of winter flings. These short-term cuffing relationships may sound sad, after all, who wants an expiration date on love? But that’s exactly the beauty of it: there are no long-term expectations and partners enjoy each other’s company during snuggle weather, parting ways when summer rolls around.

It might sound primal, but there’s definitely something to be said about our survival mechanism, and its link to finding a partner during cuffing season. You might not believe it, but a 2015 Hinge poll shows that men are 15 per cent more likely to look for a relationship in winter, and women are 5 per cent more likely during the same months to look for a partner too.


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Who’s A ‘Cuffer’?

The best thing about cuffing season is that it doesn’t have to be done keeping your long-term future in mind. There is both a thrill and joy in finding short-term romance that doesn’t lead to long-term worries.

But if you’re actively avoiding being cuffed during winter, here are some signs to look out for in your newfound romance:

  • The relationship hasn’t been defined: Important questions are never asked, like “where is this going?” and “do we have the same foundational values?”. Any serious relationship needs to establish a clear foundation, which is missing from a cuffing relationship. Most plans, whether they’re for a getaway or a date, are made immediately or are short-term.
  • Moving too fast: If your new partner is too into you and wants to be with you all the time, it can be because they don’t expect to see you in a few months.
  • You’re staying in with them: You’ve just started the romance but more often than not, you’re staying in with them for a cosy night. The urge to snuggle and cuddle them prevails over any other plans.
  • Friends and family don’t mix: You are yet to meet most, if not all of their family and friends, and the same goes for them. They might not even show an interest in meeting anyone in your life.
  • The relationship started out of nowhere: One day you said hi to someone on a dating app, and the next thing you know, you’ve been staying at their place for a week. Relationships that start out of nowhere and progress too fast are definitely the main characteristics of a cuffing season relationship.


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Cuffing Season Rules: Dos

If you’re planning on finding a partner who comes with an expiration date, here are some things you should definitely do:

  • Set Intentions: The last thing you want is to unexpectedly ghost a relationship without an explanation. Make sure that you’re both okay with a short-term relationship before moving things ahead.
  • Be Responsible: Yes, nothing about cuffing season screams responsibility, but things can take a turn when someone starts catching real feelings. Real communication is needed for both you and your partner to know the exact ending date of the fling, and it should be before one of you gets too attached.
  • Maintain Some Distance: It’s so easy to get invested in a relationship, especially when your partner meets your friends, co-workers and family. Sharing all aspects of your life with your cuffing partner can give them mixed signals, and lead them on. Keeping your emotional needs separate can be tough, but you have to ensure that you’re not investing too much of yourself into a temporary arrangement that can lead to hurt emotions later.
  • Be Gentle: There’s no need to be harsh about the way you’re parting ways with your cuffing partner. Just like any other relationship, you want to be gentle and kind. According to the Gottman Institute, it’s important to remember that it’s still a relationship, and savouring the good moments is necessary to end on good terms. Do it directly so they know that you respect them until the very end.


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Cuffing Season Don’ts

There’s a lot of unspoken etiquette in many relationships, and it applies to your short-term cuffing relationship too. You don’t want your partner to harbour resentment because you weren’t clear from the get go. Avoid doing these things to have an easier time saying bye when time’s up:

  • Become Attached: If you’ve established clear boundaries with your partner, especially about emotions, it’s better to stick to them. Your whole world doesn’t have to revolve around the person you’re dating, and you can enjoy it for what it is without having expectations.
  • Get Carried Away: Just because everyone else has found someone to ‘stay in’ with this winter, it doesn’t mean you need to rush to find a partner. Ever heard of cuffing friendships? Maybe what you need is not a loving partner, but a loving friend instead.
  • Feel Ashamed or Embarrassed: You might have gotten into a fling thinking there was nothing long-term about it, but people and feelings change. If you’re suddenly expecting more from your partner, there’s nothing to feel ashamed about, but clear communication is necessary.


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Avoid Heartbreak This Cuffing Season

You might resort to ‘winter coating’, which is basically when you reach out to old partners during cuffing season. It can be easier to re-establish an old romance, but this can come with its own set of problems. A 2022 survey by InnerCircle shows that 52 per cent individuals were contacted by an ex to rekindle a connection. A further 71 per cent admitted that this ‘rekindling’ didn’t exactly work out.

Cuffing season can be a time where life suddenly becomes thrilling, if only for a few months. The only aim during this time is to be as honest as possible, because you don’t want to ruin someone else’s idea of love or romance for good. Being authentic to yourself and setting expectations clearly in the beginning is the best way to navigate this time as cleanly as possible.


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