As the friend who often finds herself single and observing those around me enter into and exit out of relationships, I recently started to wonder what factors really contribute to the mind-blowing phenomenon called dating. For the past few years I’ve been hearing the term “cuffing season” get thrown around whenever talking about somebody who is beginning their terrifying journey into a new relationship. As obscure as it may seem at first to think that the change in seasons (and for those who live in New England…. that’s something DRAMATIC) can impact a person’s motivation to start dating, it oddly makes sense when you really start to think about it…
As someone in a constant battle with seasonal depression, it is nice to conceptualize the possibility of cozying up to a(n imaginary) significant other in order to get through the chilly winter months, but maybe that’s just me. Obviously, there isn’t a sudden switch that goes off in people’s brains that tell them to make things more serious with their partner as soon as the temperature starts to get low. However, I’m curious to know what others have to say about whether or not their relationships, or desire for one, have been altered as the winter months fall upon us.
I took it upon myself to ask both singles and couples about their relationships and how they came about, crashed and burned, or were constructed in their minds. My journey to discover if “cuffing season” actually plays out in real life or is just a huge placebo effect brought upon us by social media presented me with some interesting results….
I interviewed multiple groups of college students at Skidmore, which seemed to me like the right thing to do because the term “cuffing season” seemed to be the most applicable among teenagers and young adults. My first question to them was whether or not they thought the change in seasons influenced their desire to enter into a relationship. I found that there was some variety in opinions on this question. Some people felt that during the summer, being in a relationship wasn’t on their mind as much because they were more preoccupied “hanging out with friends and doing all these fun activities”. Meanwhile, the winter months led people to feel the need to be with someone that they could snuggle up with …. cause why not? I was not very surprised to find that this wasn’t how most people felt about relationships. One person I interviewed explained that “If you’re looking for a relationship just to be in a relationship during cuffing season… you’re doing it wrong,” which I fully agree with. Another told me that “the weather is inconsequential,” which seemed to be the consensus amongst most people I talked to. “You’re not gonna freak out and grab someone when it gets cold.”
Although I was relieved to learn that people don’t convince themselves that they have some sort of switch that flips in their mind as soon as it drops below freezing, I was still uncertain as to how there seems to be a pattern of college students entering or exiting relationships at certain times of year. One of the people who I talked to told me that the “myth” of cuffing season is associated “less so to the weather, more so to the number of things I have with my schedule and classes starting.” I began asking the people I interviewed how school impacted their relationships, especially with college presenting the possibility of dating someone who lives very far away. Some felt that being at school actually “made relationships way harder,” yet “everything depends on your connection with one another. If you love each other, you will make it work.”
Being in and out of school and having to adjust to certain routines seemed to have an impact on a lot of college students desire to date or ability to keep up with a relationship, yet there was one factor that seemed to be the most influential in the growing concept of “cuffing season.” This key contributor was, unsurprisingly, social media. “It exists on social media. It’s not a real physical thing. It works like a placebo… it doesn’t exist anywhere but online.” A lot of the people I talked to admitted to feeling some sense of jealousy or desire to have something similar to what they were seeing in photos on platforms such as Instagram. They also felt that people used social media as “an excuse to post pictures with a boyfriend,” which made some relationships feel a lot less genuine. People had the tendency to admire “not what’s picture perfect… it’s more the essence of the relationship, like if you see them being best friends in real life it’s really cute and nice to know someone has that.”
After searching not so long and not so hard to get to the bottom of whether or not “cuffing season” is a total myth, I learned some interesting things about dating in college during the 21stcentury. The concept of “cuffing season” simply proves that all aspects of our lives during this time period are impacted by social media in some way. I was told that cuffing season “isn’t necessarily fake… It’s more of a socially constructed idea based off of Instagram.” Most of us, including myself, can definitely admit to being impacted by seeing certain content on social media. I’ve felt happiness, jealousy, sadness, and everything in between when seeing cute (or cringeworthy…) couples posted up together, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way. The impact that the weather outside or the point during the school year varies from person to person, but when it comes down to it, I believe it is safe to say that rather than be an opportunity to prove a point on a social platform, your relationships should be based on your connection, communication and authentic affection towards one another regardless of the time of year.