Hand reaching whilst holding a rose, with handcuff around wrist. Dating in cuffing season

What is cuffing season, and how do you avoid being its next victim?

As the darker days creep in, so does the looming threat of cuffing… But what is cuffing? And is it really all doom and gloom?

Cuffing season can seem exciting and comforting. It can be a time of intimacy and connection… but come spring, sadness and confusion breaks. Here’s all you need to know to avoid any new year heartbreak.

What is cuffing?

Cuffing is when a single person enters into a short-term relationship with someone during the colder months, only to break up, or ghost them come spring. The season normally starts around October, with relationships ending between January and April. 

Facebook research from 2021 has shown that more people get together during the colder months, especially leading up to Christmas. That’s 34 per cent more new relationships than breakups on the day itself. The breakups aren’t quite as dramatic in statistics, with 11 per cent being the biggest increase on 2 April. This does imply that not every new relationship in the run up to Christmas is a case of cuffing.

Cuffing isn’t necessarily negative either. Receiving comfort and company with someone over the cold months is uplifting for our mood. However, if you’re interested in a long-term committed partnership, then getting into bed with someone who’s just passing the time until warm weather rolls round probably won’t fulfil you.

Avoid falling into the cuffing trap

If you are dating to find the real deal through winter, then you’ll likely want to avoid falling into the trap of cuffing season, and the heartache that follows.


If they suddenly stop engaging with you, or even pair off with someone else, then you know you dodged a cuffer!


If you think you’ve found someone you want to commit to, playing the slow game can tease out anyone who’s just in it for the winter. Don’t reply to messages too quickly or call them frequently. If they suddenly stop engaging with you, or even pair off with someone else, then you know you dodged a cuffer!

It’s also recommended that you set your expectations with people from the get-go. Make them aware that you’re pursuing a deeper, meaningful connection rather than a seasonal fling. This’ll hopefully signify to any potential partner that you’re expecting commitment from them. And hopefully they’ll be honest with you about their intentions. 

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Assess yourself 

Serotonin can drop over winter, which leaves many with heightened feelings of loneliness. This explains some of the increasing relationships developing over cuffing seasons, but is also something you should be aware of within yourself.

Assessing your desire for a relationship can help you understand whether you’re also looking for a temporary or long-term commitment. Has this need for a relationship only just arisen? Were you dating over the summer months? You can ask any dates these same questions too, to try and suss them out.

Without intending to, you might enter into a relationship because of the loneliness of cuffing season. Consider what you’re looking for in a person. How many qualities does the person that you’re dating have that match what you’re looking for in a partner? If they don’t align with many, you might be investing in them because subconsciously it’s easy access to company and intimacy in the winter months, when we’re likely to experience low mood. 

Ultimately, being single is okay

If you’re anxious about spring heartbreak, first recognise that it’s okay to be single. A lot of social pressure can surround relationships; whether you’re in one or not, labelling your relationship status for the world, and even the self-identity it presents to others. All of which can build up, and lead us to enter into something that isn’t right for us.


If you’re anxious about spring heartbreak, first recognise that it’s okay to be single


Being comfortable with your status as a single person protects you from entering into a relationship just because it’s there at the time, then leaves you high and dry come spring.

Date with intention

Dating doesn’t have to be avoided entirely over cuffing season. As long as you understand whether you’re after a committed partner, or you’re just looking for some comfort and fun for the winter. 

Ensure you set out your intentions and boundaries to your dates over the coming months, to avoid your own heartbreak, or someone else’s.

After more dating advice? Read – Take a chance on me? The best – and worst – dating apps!

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Lana Halls

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