Don't Fall for Cuffing Season

November 13, 2018
A heart with the words "cuffing season" printed in it, surrounded by calendars

Art by Kirsten Hemrich

I wake up alone in bed. A winter chill has somehow drifted through the window I struggled to shut the night before. All I can do is pull the covers around me and huddle for warmth.

Yet the cold space next to me seems to have grown in size. Any body heat that my sweatshirt has managed to contain seems to vanish rapidly. The thought comes unbidden, as if it has leapt into existence in some lonely, barren part of my mind. “Do I want something---or rather someone---here with me?”

It’s a basic human need, wanting closeness and connection. This instinct to “cuff” yourself to another in the colder months of the year may even go all the way back to Darwinism and human evolution. According to an MTV article, cold weather led us to seek a partner in order to survive food shortages associated with a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Studies show that even today most children are born in the spring and summer, which just goes to show what their parents were up to during the winter months.

When I finally emerge out of bed and into a crisp fall day, squash-colored leaves crunching beneath my boots, I see the effect of cuffing season everywhere. Both new and seasoned couples are walking around in baggy fall sweaters, holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes. They’ve posted their Halloween couple costumes on Instagram. They have evaded nights out in favor of movie nights in.

We start to long for the figment of a person who could fill the empty space, rather than recognizing that we should wait for the right person to fill it.

It sounds nice, but to my newly single self, it also really doesn’t. Cuffing season is simply one of the many traps that we fall into when looking too long at the empty side of our bed or watching our friends fall into loving relationships. We start to long for the figment of a person who could fill the empty space, rather than recognizing that we should wait for the right person to fill it.

This is just part of a larger conversation that teaches single women to see themselves as “failures.” It is assumed that if we don’t have a significant other there must be something wrong with us. We must be making a Tinder account, a Bumble account, a Hinge account, and a whatever-else account to look for someone--anyone-- to date. We must be searching day and night for the all allusive “One.” If we’re not searching for him or her, then what exactly are we doing with our lives?

Well, let me tell you what I’m doing with my life. I’m reading books that have been on my to-read shelf on Goodreads for years. I’m seeing all my friends. I’m defining myself without a significant other and growing as a person because of it. I’m meeting new people. I’m going out and having fun. I’m listening to “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande on repeat.

It may only be this way for a season or for a year or for many years. Who knows who I may meet or what may come my way in the future. This is why it’s important to embrace our time being single. It’s an opportunity, not a curse.

When I fall into bed at night, I relish the time that I have to myself, to read my book without worry that my significant other wants to go to sleep early. To choose which movie I want to watch on Netflix. Yes, the other side of the bed may be cold and neglected. The chill may seep through the window and make me shiver. Yet I can’t help but sigh with satisfaction at the newfound luxury of being able to stretch in bed, my flailing limbs un-entwined with anything or anyone else.

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