To Cuff or Not To Cuff, That Is The Question

It’s cuffing season, y’all. If you’re not cuffed, you probably know somebody who is, and you might be thinking about finding yourself a boo to snuggle during these cold autumn days. But do you really want to be in a relationship, or is the cuffing season hype making you feel like you have to be?

Having a significant other can be wonderful. You have someone to spend time with, laugh with, gaze at, cuddle with, share intimate information and/or experiences with, take cute pictures with and show off on your social media. Perhaps having a significant other is a way that you exhibit your newfound independence and maturity in college. Dating someone can give you a chance to explore yourself, and to explore other people. There will be very few other opportunities in your life where you will be surrounded by thousands of people your own age in such a closed-off community (the “Emory bubble” is no lie).

Having a significant other can also be a lot of work. People in a relationship may grow very dependent on each other, not leaving any room for outside friendships to develop. Having a relationship can distract you from academics, jobs, or internships. It can influence your decisions in a way that rids you of your independence. It can also be emotionally taxing to care deeply about a person, worry about them, and share their burdens.

You also have to consider whether or not you’re ready for a relationship—do you have enough self-love and confidence in your convictions that you can handle making yourself vulnerable to someone else? It’s extremely important that you are aware that you don’t owe anybody anything (especially money or sex), that relationships should not have strings attached, and that you always have the right to say no. If you don’t yet have a strong sense of your own autonomy, you might find yourself in a relationship with a very uneven power dynamic, which has the potential to become dangerous.

Most importantly, you should be close enough to your person-of-interest that you feel comfortable speaking up when something is wrong. If the idea of speaking up makes you uncomfortable because you’re shy, or if being straight up is just weird to you, that’s a skill that you should try to work on. If doing so makes you uncomfortable because it would elicit an unpleasant reaction from your person-of-interest, they may not be the best person to date. 

Is your person-of-interest the right person to date? My rule of thumb is that you should have the same expectations for your partner as you have for your friends. Like your friends, your partners should always be there for you, support your life goals, call you out when you’re being self-destructive, but give constructive criticism when it will help you get to a better place. They should compliment you, hype you up, and make you feel good about yourself. You wouldn’t let your friends get away with neglecting or insulting you without telling them off and/or dropping them, would you? If your person-of-interest does or would do this, do not bother cuffing.

Finally, consider whether you’re looking for a significant other because you really want one, or because you think you should have one. As I said before, dating someone can be a lot of fun, but it isn’t the be-all-end-all of college (or life). There are so many other experiences to have, and you have your whole life to explore. These four or so years maybe ones that “you can never get back,” but that doesn’t mean you have to fit every life experience into this small time frame. It may seem like everyone on campus is dating someone, but there are likely a lot fewer couples than you think. It’s easy to notice what you expect to see and ignore what you don’t.

On the other hand, if you think you’re ready to cuff or be cuffed, I wish you the best of luck! Stay cozy, and stay safe ;)