Cuffing Season During COVID-19

Cuffing season, the time of year when people couple up to power through the winter months together, started in October and is well and truly underway. While cuffing season occurs annually, this year it has converged with the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lot of us are definitely feeling the pressure to bag a quarantine boo before the year ends.

The desire to couple up during the winter months goes beyond just loneliness –  there’s actually some science behind cuffing season. From an evolutionary viewpoint, when the temperature starts to drop, we seek warmth from one another, which is why many feel the need to couple up during cuffing season. Studies also show that testosterone production peaks between October and November, which results in people wanting to engage in more sexual activity.

So, the biological reasoning behind cuffing season makes sense, but the pandemic has sent it into a tailspin.

In March, during the beginning of the pandemic, most people were cautious and sticking to Zoom dates. However, as spring and summer rolled around, many started to shift from online to in-person socially-distanced dates. With fall now turning into winter, these in-person engagements are going to become more and more difficult.

Although it’s challenging to predict anything these days, it’s very likely that this winter all of us will be spending much more time at home than we usually would. As a result, the rules of cuffing season have changed. For starters, hooking up is basically impossible for anyone following social distancing rules (which everyone should be doing!), and if you do manage to cuff someone, unpredictable lockdowns or rule changes may mean you’re stuck together longer than anticipated.

During these times, dating app usage has risen exponentially; after all, they’re the obvious option when you’re stuck at home, and they’re effective. However, even the laws of dating app etiquette have shifted due to the pandemic. 

Dating app users have found that people are becoming more explicit in communicating what they’re looking for. Most of us have heard the phrase “lockdown boyfriend,” right? Well, many users have started to indicate what they’re looking for – whether it's someone for just the lockdown period or something more long-term – on their profiles. Dating can be a confusing, murky ocean of emotion, but the pressure of COVID-19 seems to have given people clarity about what they want, whether it’s a winter fling or something more serious.

However, one of the main changes to cuffing season this year is that the stakes are higher. There are, of course, the normal worries about being ghosted or having conflicting star signs, but now you also have to make sure that whoever you’re cuffing has the same COVID views you do. Your cuff buddy should not deny the existence of the virus and should abide by lockdown rules, wear a mask, and regularly wash their hands. While getting a text back sometimes seems like a struggle, managing to find someone who doesn’t dismiss the rules and safety of others can seem impossible depending on where you are. Before, all winter hook-ups had to do was reply to your texts, come over when called, and be willing to pose for a Christmas market selfie.

Although cuffing is a natural human instinct, especially in uncertain times, you shouldn’t feel pressured to participate or be afraid of being alone. If you do, remember having a companion during the pandemic doesn’t have to mean anything, nor does it have to be permanent. As much as we might cringe at the idea of cuffing season, it’s worth seeing how things go. Romance, comfort, and human connection can help distract you from all the confusion and chaos in the world right now.