Get Your Love Life Back on Track This Cuffing Season

Two men taking a selfie together on their date.

The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting chillier, and everyone’s talking about cuffing season. For the uninitiated, cuffing season is the time when usually contented single people hurry to pair up with a special someone for the cold winter months. The term has become popular in the last ten years, but it’s long been a phenomenon.

Dr. Justin Lehmiller of the Kinsey Institute says that it’s an innate human instinct— we produce higher levels of testosterone in the fall, which leads us to be more biologically driven to couple up. Combine that with lower levels of serotonin with the cold and darkness, and we are naturally predisposed to seek an antidote in the arms of someone new.

“Cuffing Season happens like a ‘perfect storm’,” says Krista-Lynn Landolfi, a quality of life coach based in Los Angeles, “The cold weather creates a desire for someone to hold you and keep you warm; society tells us holidays are meant to be shared with a mate; knowing you can get the winter blues triggers the idea that being in a relationship will bring you more joy… all of this contributes to you feeling that you would rather ‘Netflix and chill’ with a partner, even someone who’s just ‘okay’ and in no way your ideal.”

Ready to cuff? Okay, let’s get you prepared!

Remember to start it out in public

Man and woman sitting next to each other at a restaurant and having dinner together.

Even though cuffing season brings to mind images of spending time together snuggling up on the couch or in bed on a cold night, be cautious not to let your romance expectations get you ahead of yourself. Remember that it’s always safer to have the first few dates in a public space where you’ve got safety in numbers. Plus, really getting to know each other will set you up for an even hotter romance when the temperatures really drop and you’re ready to take it home.

Take advantage of the sexiest winter spots

Couple on a walk and checking out a stall at a Christmas market.

Do a little homework and use your imagination when you’re planning dates to make a romance happen in the winter months. Wintertime is a great time for heartier meals and darker, full-bodied drinks. While steakhouses, pubs, and cozy cafes are wonderful any time of the year, the cuffing season months are really their time to shine. Don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask if you can make a reservation for a table near the fireplace or in an intimate booth for a date. A lot of restaurants appreciate someone taking the initiative to call ahead and say it’s for a date, so they’ll set you up with something nice.

If you know it’s just a fall fling, discuss your expectations

Couple snuggling together under a scarf while sitting at an outdoor cafe.

One of the trademarks of a true cuffing season affair is that it’s not meant to last past spring. Much like the summer love, the cuffing season romance is often seen as strictly seasonal. But just because cuffing season led you into each other’s arms and you shared wooly blankets, that doesn’t mean that you should brush it off as a temporary hook up either. Starting a relationship with low stakes and low pressure might actually be a healthier and happier way to let a real love blossom, so don’t discount your snowbird as a potential for something permanent.

But on the other hand, if you know that you are simply looking for someone to keep you warm through the darkest days of the year, it’s best to express this at the start and prevent any misunderstandings or heartbreak for someone who’s looking to fall in love. It’s much better to be clear about your intentions upfront and enjoy your time together than be constantly second-guessing yourself and hoping you’re not sending the wrong impression.

Take advantage of a touchable wardrobe

Person holding a coffee and bundled up in a knit sweater and wool coat.

While spring and summer let you show off your body in revealing clothing, cuffing season gives way to sensual, touchable fabrics that remind your date how irresistibly nice you’d be to cuddle up with. So feel free to rock the cashmere, crushed velvet, corduroy, and soft wool on dates.

Be prepared to be the one who keeps them warm

Fewer things are sexier than someone who is prepared to take care of you and keep you warm. Keep an extra blanket or scarf in your car or bag and don’t hesitate to offer it if they seem a little shivery. Feeling comfortable is a quick way to connect with someone and it’s even better if they want to cuddle in the blanket with you.

Get good at the trappings of a cozy space

Two people cuddled on the couch under cozy blankets watching a film.

The warming principle is even more important when they come back to your home. Have several soft, cozy blankets and throw pillows at the ready, just an arm’s reach away. Have the heat turned up a little, but not too much, so you’re both free to look to each other as a source of warmth for your quality time together.

For ideas on how to make your home the perfect cuffing season space, check out the many blogs and images for the Danish concept of hygge. While traditional hygge (pronounced like hoo-guh, sort of) is much more complex than an aesthetic, it’s also great source material for creating your dreamy wintery space of candles, hot tea, warm socks, and snuggles on the couch.

Make a holiday game plan

Christmas puts a lot of pressure on every couple, from long-term relationships to the quick fling. Rather than stress about when to bring up the details and what you plan to do for the holidays, it might be easier to have the conversation as early as you can reasonably assume that they’ll be sticking around through December. 

For example, if you know that you’ll be going back home for Christmas and don’t plan to bring them, it’s best for them to know as soon as possible. If they were under the assumption that they’d tag along with you, they’ll still have time to make alternate plans without you. Likewise, if you know that you’ll be looking forward to a low-key Christmas of Chinese food and a movie, make your invitation early so they know where they stand and can make their own decision.

Take advantage of the steamiest holidays: Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day

Guy pulling streamers off of a girl after fun holiday celebrations.
Even if you’re not going to be available on Christmas, cuffing season brings some seriously sexy holidays! Make an extra effort to put together a fun plan for Halloween (extra points for couple costumes), a tailor-made plan for New Year’s (either going out on the town or a special night in), and a thoughtful plan for Valentine’s Day (either a full-on romance fest or a cheeky night together bucking the trend and doing something unexpected).

Wishing you a cuffing season full of cozy evenings in good company. And who knows, perhaps your romance will even survive the winter!

Stacey Garratt

Stacey Garratt

Stacey Garratt is a writer on sex and relationships with a special focus on online culture, bisexuality, and non-monogamy. Her award-winning work has been featured in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, and American Public Media. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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