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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

It’s no surprise to anyone that as Valentine’s Day comes and goes, the final stages of “cuffing season” have also spread through us university students.

For those that don’t know about cuffing season, Urban Dictionary defines it as “the time of the year where people are looking to be in a relationship. They are then cuffed by a serious relationship.” 

Cuffing season can be considered an emotionally demanding activity. Among teenagers and young adults, it is widely known that cuffing season has a specific schedule to be followed in order to make it to the home run — AKA, Valentine’s Day. Here are the five stages of cuffing season:

stage one: Scouting

This step usually begins at the end of summer as back-to-school creeps around the corner. 

stage two : Draft Day

This step comes from the end of September to the beginning of October — make sure your roster’s ready by then. 

stage three: the Pre-Season

This stage should be right on time for Halloween’s matching couples’ costumes! 

stage Four: Cuffing Season

This is the real deal and it comes in November, so make sure you’re making a wise decision. You’ll be stuck with them for the entire holiday season. Because after this comes the fifth and final step…

stage five: The Championship Game

February 14th. If you’ve made it this far, kudos to you.

Typically, one would think that cuffing season sounds very reasonable — and it is. It’s just another way of saying “casual dating.” However, the word “cuffing” is literally derivative of the idea of using handcuffs — in the bedroom or not. 

According to researchers, psychologically speaking people are more likely to want a relationship in the winter months to cuddle with in the cold (when people don’t necessarily want to go out on the town as much), and when there are many family-oriented holidays taking place. 

To an extent, cuffing season can bring out more romantic courtship-style dating that is not often seen in the age of playing hot-or-not on a phone screen. People are dating with a goal in mind: to end up in a relationship. 

But, for some reason, the word “roster” gives me a hang-up. For those who don’t know, Urban Dictionary defines roster as “a group of girls that can be called on at any time for casual sex, these girls don’t know about the roster or each other, to add girls to this group is known as building your roster.” Alex Cooper, host of the podcast Call Her Daddy, has referred to her own rosters of men as well — effectively showing that the term has become gender-neutral (a win for feminism?).

This kind of attitude toward dating and relationships — or should we say, “hookups” — plays a larger role in the at-large hook-up culture prevalent on college campuses. According to this study by researcher Lisa Wade, hook-up culture prevents the formation of emotional friendships and relationships due to the need for emotional distancing. It is also linked to more emotional distress and negative body image issues, according to this study in the Science Direct Journal. 

All this is to say, if you want to partake in hook-up culture and cuffing season, it is totally your choice. Casual dating and seeing multiple people at once certainly isn’t anything new, and neither is equating dating to a game. But the idea of equating people that you’re seeing to a place on your list of partners, as well as the implication of casual sex only, just doesn’t quite hit the Valentine’s Day romance mark.

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Nadine Bendou

Carleton '23

Nadine Bendou is a journalism and communications media study student at Carleton University. She enjoys writing about relatable topics and media entertainment topics. She hopes to one day host a TV show just like E! News. She absolutely loves travelling and can fluently speak 4 languages!
Ashley Hermalin is in third-year studying Journalism and History at Carleton. She is a proud Swiftee, lipgloss enthusiast and perfume lover. She spends her time watching the latest fashion trends, video essays, and writing for HerCampus and Jewish on Campus.