We didn’t think cuffing season would last this long either.
Nobody expected to be social distancing through the summer, but here we are. As a result, there are many new norms to get used to in our everyday lives, and also in our romantic lives. When it comes to dating, summer outings are limited as social gatherings are outlawed in many states. Meeting people off dating apps has also been deemed relatively unsafe. Because of this, some people are extending their cuffing season flings through the summer. If that’s you, you might be wondering how to make the most of this extended cuffing season with your new partner.
What even is cuffing season?
Cuffing season happens at the end of fall when singles are on the hunt for a cuddle buddy to keep them warm during the winter months. Those who participate in the cuffing season ritual typically are not looking for something super long term. It’s just something to keep your mind in a positive space while the outside world looks and feels bleak AF.
When is cuffing season supposed to end?
There’s no official end date for cuffing season, but many who have partaken in the annual event will tell you that the wintertime cuffs usually come off as early as Valentine’s Day in February, or later into March and early April. When you’re feeling up to shedding a layer and hitting the town as the weather warms, the cuff is usually dropped so you can regain that sense of freedom the single life gives you.
But, according to Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed clinical psychologist, marriage counselor, and host of the Marriage Podcast, cuffing season went a bit haywire this year due to the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is extending cuffing season because it's difficult and risky to meet new partners,” Dr. Fisher tells O.school. “Therefore, people are more likely to stick with their current partner under the circumstances.”
So, what was supposed to be a casual and short-lived relationship is now something that has lingered into spring due to the “cease and desist” coronavirus has put on the entire globe. Your wintertime cuff is still around (either sheltering-in-place with you, or virtually), and you’re beginning to think: what now?
What does an extended cuffing season mean for new partners?
Well, the extended cuffing season can mean something different for certain couples. If the shelter-in-place guidelines and regulations have prevented you from physically seeing the person you started cuffing season with, you can wait this time out with them and figure out your feelings once you’re able to see them in person again.
Try to FaceTime, Zoom, or call your cuff regularly, and text often to keep the relationship at the forefront. That is, if you want to. This time can also give you the opportunity to drop a relationship you might not be feeling. Sorry, I’m not sure I’m in the right place, both mentally and physically, to engage in this relationship.
“[An extended cuffing season] can be positive because it may increase commitment and security in the relationship,” Dr. Fisher says. “However, the amount of togetherness from the COVID-19 lockdown can also create strain.”
Use this time to figure out how much you like the person you cuffed with earlier in the year and take it from there.
But, what happens if I’m sheltering-in-place with the person I met during cuffing season?
If you like spending time with this person, try getting to know them even better by planning dates at home. Learning about your cuffing partner and forming new experiences — even if those experiences all happen at home — will help the relationship evolve. You may then decide to keep things going even after this extended cuffing season ends.
On the other hand, if the shelter-in-place has made you realize this is not someone you’d like to continue living with, or even see casually once this is all over, you need to communicate that and make arrangements to separate as soon as it’s safe enough to do so.
No matter what the current living situation is, you’ve been gifted with extra time to figure out how you feel about this new relationship.
Here are a few ways you can use this time to your advantage:
- Communicate with your partner about what you want. If you’re still interested in keeping this thing short-term, make sure the other person understands that once shelter-in-place is over, things may change.
- Ask your partner if they want to come out of cuffing season with a defined relationship. Don’t necessarily set a deadline for yourself and your partner with the end of shelter-in-place. Instead, ask them if they’re willing to explore something greater than just a winter fling when all of this is said and done.
- Figure out how you two work when physical intimacy isn’t involved. If you’re not living together, then this is a great time to test how you two get on when physical touch isn’t involved. Do you have a friendship as well as an intimate relationship?
- Actually get to know the other person. Your winter cuff can sometimes be relegated to a simple hook-up buddy, or someone you only know on a shallow level. If you’re willing, dig into more serious topics and get to know this person as someone more than just your 2020 cuff.
Cuffing season is kind of here to stay.
At least until shelter-in-place is over and the country starts to safely reopen. Use this time you have wisely and figure out where you stand with this person you met months ago. There’s no wrong decision as long as you go with your gut and communicate effectively with your partner.