CUFFING SEASON: Everything We Learned About Our Weird Winter Relationships

Welp, it’s that time of year again. It’s too cold to spend an entire Sunday afternoon sprawled out on a sandy beach. That one family member is bugging you about getting hitched. And, for reasons that we can’t quite explain, the living room couch is a lot lonelier than it was just a month ago — despite the only thing changing is the color of the leaves outside.

That’s right: it’s cuffing season — at least that’s what the “hot takes” and millennial single people on our social media feeds are telling us.

For people who might not be aware, cuffing season is defined as During the Fall and Winter months people who would usually rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be “Cuffed” or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.

We don’t blame you if you dismiss “cuffing season” as another urban myth. After all, it could be another ploy from that overly-flirtatious co-worker who is tired of driving home from holiday office parties alone. But, even if it is a myth, enough people seem to believe in it to effectively make it appear very real.

It’s easy to sympathize with this. The holidays ahead are centered around spending time with family. If you’re one of the many who don’t yet have a family of your own, the idea of getting into a sporadic relationship might seem pretty comforting right now. And if the alarming numbers in our study are any indicator, you are very far from alone if this is the place you’re in.

So, let’s dive right in…

Does It Exist?

Our study shows that a majority of respondents accept “cuffing season” — over 56 percent believe it to be real. This is far more than we thought we would see, mainly because the term itself is relatively new. Refinery29 reports the phrase first appeared on Urban Dictionary in 2011 — under a decade ago.

However, while it’s a new phrase, the concept is ancient…

Do it for the Gram

Let’s face it — there are a lot of reasons why people jump into relationships, and a lot of them are terrible. One of those would be throwing yourself into someone’s arms just to broadcast it to the rest of the world. Our research shows this is less rare than you probably think.

According to our respondents, over 7 percent of females and 10 percent of males admit to getting into relationships just for social media. Not surprisingly, the complications social media has on modern relationships are well documented — to the point where relationship therapists have had to develop entirely new approaches because of these trends.

Start and Stop

There is a pretty clear consensus on when cuffing season begins and ends. It coincides with the winter months — including the colder months and phasing out by the time spring begins. We bet that some people are looking for a cuddle partner for the cold weather. Forty-one percent agree on an October start date, and nearly the same amount point to March as the end. Maybe Valentine’s Day is the tryout for a more serious relationship?

We mentioned wholesome holidays playing a role already, but some psychologists go even further. One researcher quoted by Cosmopolitan says the reason for the cuffing can be as simple as people becoming more lonely due to lack of sunshine and warm weather. This can lead to more “Netflix and chill” mentality.

Why Am I With This Person Again?

While we’ve established some pretty good reasons for cuffing season being a severe influence for relationships, we’re happy to see it’s not the main reason people are getting together. Over 40 percent of respondents deny that the cold months affect their relationship status. We do, however, want to applaud the 2.36 percent for being honest enough to admit that they want free holiday presents…

A shocking number — almost 16 percent — cite family pressure as the main reason for their winter flings. Relationships that begin with this harsh push rarely yield positive results. Maybe this will make the relationships shorter term

Family Holidays

More to the point above, family holidays — and the pressure that comes with them — push a significant amount of people into potentially awkward situations. As it turns out, many are willing to go above and beyond to get their family members to leave them alone. Thirty-five percent of our respondents admitted to bringing a date to a winter holiday purely out of family pressure. Our study further shows that mothers are usually the culprit behind this.

Seeing these results, it makes sense that online dating surges right around Christmas time.

Lying to the Family

For some of us, the pressures of cuffing season are so painful that we don’t even want to give dating an actual go in time for the big family holiday party. Our research shows that one out of ten people will have a friend pose as a date for them before the year is over. An even more significant amount — 22 percent — will flat out lie about being in a relationship.

We don’t mean to encourage this behavior, but we do need to point out that fake dating (usually for holidays) is a budding industry.

Bottom Line

Dating can be a stressful pursuit — especially when it feels like it’s something that you need to do just because you’re expected to. At the same time, relationships are an essential part of life. And if enough people are also looking for a new relationship, this might not be the wrong time to get back in the game after all.

Either way, it’s an excellent time to work on making an excellent first impression whether in person or on a dating app. Diet and exercise are obvious solutions, but they take time. Making your home look nice for the eventual holiday photo in your front yard is something Lawnstarter can help you with.


All participants were screened using a two-pronged approach: (1) description of selection criteria with a requirement for self-acknowledgment and acceptance, and (2) directly asking each participant to confirm each criterion, namely having been in a “romantic relationship” The term “romantic relationship” was defined as “A romantic relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. ” A total of 1,281 attempts were made to take the online study, with 152eliminated for: (1) not having been in a “romantic relationship” (2) failing captcha, (3) not completing the survey, or (4) a mixture of these. Additionally, 63 response sets were eliminated for having duplicate IP addresses, for a total of 215 eliminations, yielding a completion rate of 83.21%, and a final n = 1,066. This study employed an online survey using a convenience sampling methodology via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, with a subsequent posteriori exploratory, correlational data analysis methodology employed after completion of data scrubbing via Microsoft Excel and data visualization via Tableau.

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Logan Freedman

Logan Freedman

Logan Freedman has been expertly producing content marketing for more than five years, with a focus on data-driven content. Logan has a passion for finding unique and catchy trends in data. His work has been featured in USA Today, People magazine, Pitchfork, The Guardian, and many other publications. He found his calling after studying political science and several other topics at Florida Gulf Coast University.