Asking for a friend: What is cuffing season?

Asking for a Friend is a weekly Sex and Relationships column hosted by Arts and Culture writer Dana Sparks and fueled by your curiosities.

Asking for a Friend is a weekly Sex and Relationships column hosted by Arts and Culture writer Dana Sparks and fueled by your curiosities. Click here to anonymously submit questions regarding sex, relationships and sex education.



“Is there any “truth” to cuffing season? Like, do people really get into relationships in the colder months? What does it mean? — I’m also always seeking a relationship and maybe just want you to confirm that this is a good reason to get into one. IDK. Are people looking to cuff up with me now more than usual?” – Cuff Me Up


Dear Cuff Me Up,

Take a look around and you might just notice that Townshend’s tea shop is overcrowded with first-time Tinder dates, men’s sweaters are going missing and you can’t help but think about cuddling.

We are in cuffing season. People are getting ready to latch on tighter than Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Cuffing season is an informal term used to describe the dating habits of society during the fall/winter months. The timeline for cuffing season is roughly spread out from September to March. Cuffing is a reference to getting into a relationship, not bondage. The logic behind cuffing season is that days are getting colder, darker and, well, lonelier. So, why not find someone to fill the void?

It appears that the term was made popular by Urban Dictionary back in 2011 and is the inspiration for countless articles looking at the dynamics of dating and whether or not it’s influenced by the chilly weather.

The most common way I’ve seen the internet trying to figure out how to define cuffing season is by looking at birthdays — which would indicate when the most conceptions are happening. The Daily Viz offers an interactive visual break down of the most and least common times of the year for estimated conception and birth.

The data compiled is made up of information from 1994 to 2014. According to The Daily Viz heat map, peak sexy season is happening in December. You’ll find that the least common birthdays take place around Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years Day. This information would point back to March (the estimated month of conception) being the least popular month for sexy time.

Interestingly enough, the spring season begins in March, signaling warmer days ahead and the end of cuffing season. But who’s to say the shedding of jackets and blankets isn’t just the start of spring and summer flings?

It seems that people are always chasing after human connection — not just you.

Cuffing season could be a relationship heyday — you don’t need my blessing to get out there and play the field. However, the changing weather isn’t a good excuse to hop into a relationship. Remember two things: people’s feelings are involved and you shouldn’t settle.

Being a serial monogamist — someone constantly seeking out being in a relationship — can be okay depending on your motivations. I think it’s common to jump in and out of relationships, especially at this age, but you should stop to ask yourself why you’re doing so.

Are you afraid to be alone? It’s okay to say yes. I think everyone experiences some fear of loneliness throughout different points in their life. I know that I have been afraid to be alone before, and it’s okay if you are right now. But, I encourage you to look critically at what that concern means for you.

The fear of being alone expresses itself in a lot of different ways — most often evident in the way that serial monogamy is rationalized. Some people argue that casual dating sucks because it doesn’t provide the opportunity for the emotional depth that a committed relationship would allow. Others argue that they are their best self when they’re in a relationship. It is easy to be in love with love and it is hard to be alone.

Relationships have the potential to fill a lot of our needs by providing emotional support, physical connection and a little bit of novelty. Still, stifling yourself with a relationship and being overly dependent on others to fill your needs really isn’t beneficial in the long run.

Serial monogamy might be stopping you from actually mourning the end of important relationships. By replacing one person with another, you aren’t letting yourself be alone with the challenge of processing your feelings and learning from your mistakes. You’re not honoring the experiences you shared with the last person — or what you learned about yourself during that season — if you’re just trying to bury them.

For all the time you give others, you should be giving yourself at least as much, and some more. Taking time for yourself is investing in yourself — it is an opportunity to face your fears, make a game plan and better yourself.

Even though cuffing season is upon us, no one says you have to, or should, participate. Good things take time and begin with yourself — regardless of the weather.

Yours truly,


P.S. There is no rule that says you can’t find someone to cuddle with while you’re single.

Photojournalist and Sex and Relationships columnist

Dana is a photojournalist specializing in long-format storytelling — particularly regarding gender and social justice topics. She is the Daily Emerald Sex and Relationships columnist. This is her third year at the Emerald.