"Cuffing Season" and Why It's Stupid

So, it’s fall. The rain has set in, the days are getting shorter, the plaid and sweaters are coming out of the back of your closet. Have you begun to feel yourself want someone to drink pumpkin spice lattes and stay warm with under that throw blanket you just bought? Maybe someone with whom to watch all of those movies that you prepared to get ready for Halloween? Someone, to go on a romantic hay bale ride with? Well, you might just be getting swept up in the human phenomenon that is cuffing season.

I assume that many of you just did a double take and, possibly, stopped reading this article to quickly find out what the hell “cuffing season” is. Is it a new slang term being adopted by the Youth™? Is it something that you missed in the weather this week? When does it start? What sickness comes with it? Is it just another one of those phrases you read in a New York Times article that you have to somehow figure out from context clues?

Well, you’ve asked enough questions: let’s get some answers.

Cuffing season is essentially the time of the year around the holidays, spanning from late September to right around or after Valentine’s Day when single people have the urge to be in a relationship, or “cuffed”. This is mostly due to the number of indoor activities and less largely social events that occur in the fall and winter, and the amount of emphasis placed on having a significant other via the holiday activities. Ice skating dates, couples Halloween costumes, a kiss at midnight on New Year’s, someone to bring to the dinner on Thanksgiving, and more are the main examples of this.

One of the first thoughts I had when I discovered this term, and what it stood for, was another question: why is it called “cuffing” if they want to be in a relationship? This is mostly due to the connotations of the word “cuffing,” and the definition of the word. Both “official” definitions (*cough* the ones that show up on Google) are associated with violence—securing with handcuffs and/or striking someone on the head with an open hand aren’t necessarily romantic activities. The word is synonymous with restriction and beating, so why is it used when people want to be in relationships for the season? Then it hit me.

Cuffing season usually applies to single people who, normally, wouldn't be in relationships during the rest of the year. It is the appeal of the romanticism of it all that draws them in. Also, when one is “cuffed” in the restraint sense of the word, it isn’t usually a long-term thing. It’s meant to be a temporary commitment and, in the realm of using violence in relation to relationships, it isn’t as heavy as the ol’ ball and chain that is a serious long-term relationship that could result in marriage. Therefore, these single people are looking for short-term significant others that allow them to experience what the coupled life is like in one of the most romantic and family-oriented seasons of the year, and then free themselves of it with little to no huge consequences. This bothers me for many reasons.

First, it diminishes the importance of deep relationships. The idea of a “season” where relationships are the ideal trivializes the commitment one has to have when entering a romantic relationship with someone, and it makes it acceptable for that “season” to change, and the person or people involved might just up and leave. Secondly, it places significant emphasis on romantic relationships, in comparison to their platonic, familial, or even queerplatonic counterparts. It makes the people who choose to remain single, the people who put more importance on platonic relationships, and/or aromantic people (who don’t feel romantic attraction) seem like prudes or scoffing at the people who want relationships. In general, it devalues non-romantic relationships to the point that companionship that isn’t romantic is, in my experience, unwanted or generally aggravating, and third-wheeling becomes a problem on the ice skating dates and hay bale rides. There’s no room for the platonic in cuffing season, and it’s restricting on all parties involved.


Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3