When summer ends, there are telltale signs of the coming fall and winter, such as the bubonic spread of pumpkin spice, the yellowing of leaves, and the swapping of shorts for pants. However, no alarm rings as loud as your sudden desire to be in a new relationship. Our inklings to get cozy with a new fling aren’t random but physiologically and seasonally timed with the shortening of days and dip in temperature.
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What Is Cuffing Season?
In today’s Urban Dictionary terms, these desires are aligned with “cuffing season.” The term describes the time roughly between October and February when normally single people find themselves with the urge to enter a new relationship and be “cuffed.”
There’s no surprise the iconic Jefferson Airplane song “Somebody to Love” was recorded in November 1966 — prime cuffing time. Indeed, we want, need, and would love somebody to love right about now. Here’s why.
Cuffing Season Explained
Even Cavemen Cuffed
People today are much like their cave-dwelling forefathers. When the days get shorter in the fall and winter, we spend more time indoors doing tasks that require little energy so we can conserve heat. When we go out less, our *ahem* natural desires must be pursued in the comfort of our caves.
In the 1800s, people living in cold climates like Siberia or the French Alps would essentially hibernate with their farm animals during the winter. But don’t ever explain to your cuffing-mate that they’re a modern-day Alps pig.
Puffy Jackets Are Sexier Than Swimsuits
A 2008 study of a group of heterosexual men showed they were most attracted to women in the winter. Surprisingly, the season for bikinis and short-shorts produced the lowest amount of attraction. Researchers said this is likely caused by the “contrast effect,” when “more frequent exposure to women’s bodies in warmer seasons might increase men’s attractiveness criteria for women’s body shape and breasts.” Meaning more clothes = more left to the imagination = more attraction.
Dating app Hinge verified this tidbit. The brand’s data shows men are 15% more likely to seek out women in the winter.
When You’re Cold, You’re Lonely
A theory called “embodied cognition” has been proven in 2008* and 2012** by researchers who were able to show that outside temperatures directly affect our internal sentiments. One study found that feeling temporally cold produced feelings of being alone and isolated. Another study took this a step farther to prove that physical coldness made its subjects more likely to want to watch a romantic movie. (For us, romantic movies only go as far as classic Westerns. Sorry, not sorry.)
The simple equation is that cold weather leads to a need for body warmth.
When Is Cuffing Season?OctoberNovemberDecemberJanuaryFebruary
Cuffing season starts in October, giving new couples and hot flings nearly eight weeks to make an impression strong enough to survive meeting the family during the holidays. Based on 2008 Facebook data, there’s a spike in breakups two weeks before Christmas (ouch). Perhaps your cuddle buddy was purely the result of wanting to be warm instead of wanting to get to know them as a person, but this is great news if you’re both looking for a shameless “cuff” for October and November but nothing too serious — it’s called cuffing season and not cuffing year for a reason.
However, additional Facebook data from 2012 indicates there are 34% more new relationships than breakups on December 25, so the spike in get-togethers outweighs the heartbreak. Cuffing season hits its climax on February 14 when 49% more new relationships start, but the official end to the season is Spring Break when the highest rate of breakups is recorded.
Even crazier, if you and your partner survive cuffing season, you might be long-term lovers. Facebook showed that couples who make it to three months (the universally-agreed-upon honeymoon stage) usually end up together for at least four years.
If you want to make sure you and your cuffing-buddy make it past the five months of cuffing season, start friending. Facebook Data Science shows that when people had friends in common with their partner who wasn’t acquainted with one another (i.e. a family member or friend from college) they were less likely to break up over the next few months.
Style Advice for Cuffing
Looking to cuff? The Manual sought advice from Will Noguchi, lead stylist at Bombfell, for his tips to increase your chance of finding a fall fling.Get a cool coat. “This season is all about the statement coat,” says Noguchi. “A statement coat is sure to get some attention, catch someone’s eye, and help those cuffing odds! I say stand out in the cold with a bold patterned or brightly colors.”Two words: Crew. Neck. Noguchi says, “There’s nothing like showing off your summer body in a winter sweater. A fitted crewneck sweater in a rich autumnal tone, for example, will pair well with jeans and add a luxe feel that will hopefully keep your cuffing buddy wanting more!”
*Williems, R. M., & Francken, J. C. (2012). Embodied cognition: Taking the next step. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 1-3.
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**Zhong, C., & Leonardelli, G. J. (2008). Cold and lonely: Does social exclusion literally feel cold? Psychological Science, 19, 838-842.