Now that it’s December, we singles need to prepare for our feeds to transform into a couple’s wonderland. Ice skating, hot chocolate movie nights, and holiday date party photos will be streaming in, and the FOMO is real. Having been single for 19 years (and counting!), I’ve had quite a bit of experience with difficult feelings during cuffing season.
“Cuffing season” is this lonely period of time during fall and winter when everyone seems to find themselves wishing they were in a relationship. There is pressure to find a (usually) short-term relationship to get you through the colder months. Hot girl summer is the season for singles, so the transition into cuffing season can be rough.
I’m no stranger to feeling lonely during the winter months. So, I spoke to Linette Bixby, a certified self-compassion and mindfulness teacher, to find more ways to show up for yourself this season. Because we all deserve it.
Connect with friends.
Bixby says that reaching out to friends and other loved ones is a great form of self-care for those who are feeling lonely this season. So, try to do things with other people as much as possible.
A lot of the time, your friends are in the exact same situation as you. Talking about your struggles and relating to the people around you will bring you even closer. A strong support system is a must when you’re combating single girl sadness. Gather up all of your friends and take them on those dates that you would typically save for a relationship. Reclaim those spaces and break up the stream of couples photos on Instagram with your own group pics.
Do fun things that you enjoy.
Well, if it isn’t my favorite coping mechanism – treating myself! Getting out of the house and doing an activity that you enjoy can help you get out of your head and ease those feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“The most important part of doing anything is starting with an intention,” Bixby tells Her Campus. According to Bixby, some examples of intentions are, “I’m doing this because I really enjoy it”, “I want to contact someone to feel connected”, or “I’m going to take a walk because I know it will make me feel better”. She also suggests writing all of the things you enjoy doing in a journal and revisiting it when you need inspiration.
If you’re surrounded by your friends doing something fun, who even has time to think about relationships? The holiday season is also full of nostalgic comfort shows and movies to enjoy. Maybe avoid those holiday romcoms, though. Protect your peace, bestie!
Practice self-compassion this season.
The hardest thing to internalize during cuffing season is that you’re not a failure for being single. In no way is your relationship status a reflection of you as a person. Despite what our silly little brains like to tell us, being single doesn’t mean you’re unlovable. Relationships require a level of commitment that not all of us can handle emotionally at the moment, and that’s OK. Despite what the Hallmark channel tells us this holiday season, the biggest goal in your life doesn’t have to be a relationship! And dealing with these emotions can be draining, so showing up for yourself this season is so important.
Of course, it’s all so much easier said than done. Practicing self-compassion is truly a life-long journey, and it can be intimidating. So much so, that many of us don’t even know where to start. When you find yourself having self-critical thoughts, Bixby suggests that you consider what you would tell a friend who was saying these things.
“You might say, this isn’t about you, it’s the world we live in,” Bixby tells Her Campus. “Some people might think that it is selfish or conceited, but this is what the world has wrongly taught us. We need to give ourselves the same love and care as we would a dear friend.”
Take a step back and check in with yourself.
It can be difficult to think rationally when there’s so much social pressure to be in a relationship. But it may be helpful to ask yourself whether you actually want a relationship, or if you just want to say that you’re in one (valid). Do you feel like you actually have enough time and energy to put toward a relationship? If you really want to be in a long-term relationship with someone, it’s totally okay to grieve being single this season. Give yourself space to feel whatever feelings come with that. Practicing mindfulness is one way to create space for any emotions that you are feeling.
“Mindfulness is being present for the entire experience of being human,” says Bixby. Mindfulness practices can help you tap into your emotions and relieve stress. Cuffing season isn’t just stressful because of our love lives – with finals, the holidays, and the new year right around the corner, we’re under enough stress already.
Depending on what stage you’re at, it may even be helpful to think about what you don’t have to worry about when you’re single. For example, you’re not missing out on the expenses of buying gifts for someone. When you’re single, you also have more time and energy to put toward yourself. You can use these feelings of loneliness to reflect and ask yourself what needs aren’t being met in your life. Do you need more time with friends? More time with family? Companionship in another way that isn’t romantic? There are a lot of questions that you can ask yourself to figure out what your personal needs are.
Use this time to figure out what you want out of your next relationship.
Being single doesn’t have to be depressing – it can be an exciting time to think about what your future may hold! If you’re in a good place emotionally, it could be helpful to think about what you value in romantic relationships. If you truly feel ready for a long-term commitment, channel that energy into thinking about your future love life. Figure out your likes and dislikes (and “icks,” because they’re important too!). Get to know more about yourself and what you enjoy in terms of intimacy. It will benefit both future you and your future partner.
The pressures of cuffing season often lead us to settle and lower our standards just so that we can have a temporary relationship. It doesn’t have to be that way, and being single can be a blessing in disguise. If you find yourself thinking that you don’t deserve to have standards, Bixby suggests reframing these thoughts.
“Offer yourself loving kind words,” she says. “Notice the habitual negative self-talk, and see if you can counter those thoughts with more kind ones. What do people like about you? What are some things that you are good at?” Breaking these cycles of negative self-talk won’t happen overnight, so be patient with yourself throughout the process.
The bottom line: all you really need this cuffing season is a good weighted blanket or body pillow. Take this as your sign not to hit up your ex!