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How to Date Yourself During Cuffing Season

It's hard to be alone when everyone else seems to be rushing into a new relationship. Maybe it's time to take an alternative approach to dating.
December 2, 2022
11 mins read

Cuffing season” is a colloquial term for a phenomenon where during the winter holidays, usually spanning from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, people crave relationships. While the term is far from scientific, one study showed that people were more likely to look up “dating sites” online in the winter. Another study found that men’s testosterone levels peak in December, which could also provide a scientific basis for the desire for romantic relationships around that time. 

Another compelling potential reason for cuffing season is Seasonal Affective Disorder or (pun intended) SAD. SAD describes a cyclical depression that usually begins in the fall and ends in spring or early summer. While the cause of the disorder is not yet well-understood by psychologists, some theorize that the steep decrease in daylight time and drop in temperature can cause low energy, oversleeping, difficulty concentrating, and other feelings characteristic of depression. 

The scientific background for cuffing season is important to understand as it can help explain the major downside of the phenomenon: feeling especially lonely without a winter beau. For most single people, cuffing season is a nightmare. Even if you think you’re finally happy being single and making the most of it, being surrounded by ads of happy Christmas couples in matching pajamas can make you feel like all your progress is gone. It can seem like everyone else is in a happy committed relationship, which naturally leads to feelings of loneliness, bitterness, and low self-esteem. If everyone else is in a relationship, what’s my problem?

Of course, this isn’t logically true. Not everyone is in a relationship, and those in relationships certainly aren’t bereft of problems or insecurities. But given the scientific predisposition to feel sad around the wintertime, the desire to share magical holiday moments with someone by your side can feel overwhelming. However, this is the time when it’s most important to stay true to yourself and put your own well-being first. Here are some tips on how to ‘date yourself’ and tackle the underlying emotions that contribute to the devastating consequences of being single during cuffing season. 

Tip 1: Make Journaling a Habit.

When most people think of journaling, they think of writing a ‘dear diary’ account of everything they’ve done that day, from what they ate for lunch to what time they brushed their teeth at night. While many certainly love this kind of record-keeping, journaling is unique for every single person and it’s up to you to discover what works best. To get to know yourself better, some helpful prompts could be: “When’s the last time you cried and why?” or  “Who/what are you most grateful for?” If that seems intimidating at first, it’s helpful to start by writing about an experience that elicited any emotion, whether that be positive or negative, and take a deep dive into that feeling. Before you know it you’ll have a full page. Making this kind of self-reflection a part of your routine is an essential part of getting to know yourself. 

Tip 2: Challenge Yourself To Do More Things Alone.

Loneliness is a complicated feeling because it can mean so many different things. Someone can feel lonely if they have few friends, if they don’t feel like they have any meaningful relationships, or if they’re not on speaking terms with someone they care about. However, a facet of loneliness that is especially pertinent to ‘cuffing season’ blues is the loneliness that comes from not having someone to go on dates with. With all the holiday events and activities going on, it’s easy to see a gingerbread house kit or a tree-lighting ceremony and think “I wish I had someone to do this with.” However, the societal pressure to only do these things with a partner is just that: pressure. The next time you find yourself wishing you could do something, but lack a romantic partner, do it yourself! Make your own cookies, watch your favorite holiday movie or go for a stroll and enjoy the Christmas lights. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you challenge yourself to do things alone, the more you’ll enjoy it and develop a concept of self that is not reliant on the perception of others. 

Tip 3: Try Out New Hobbies With No Pressure To Be Good At Them.

As a college student, your life is filled to the brim with stressors from a wide range of responsibilities such as work, class, internships, clubs or anything else. On top of that, you have to balance a social life and (if possible) get enough sleep to function. At the end of a long day, it’s incredibly tempting to scroll mindlessly on TikTok or crash right into bed. However, without implementing any hobbies into your life, you only contribute to burnout and can risk an eventual crisis when you realize you haven’t done something like read a book or draw a picture in months. If you already know you have hobbies that you haven’t worked on in a while, block out some time to do them. Whether that’s a couple hours on the weekend to travel to a museum or just thirty minutes to do yoga on a Thursday, doing hobbies can remind you that you’re more than just a student or employee, but a person who deserves rest.

Tip 4: Adopt an Abundance Mindset.

The abundance mindset is a relatively new concept; it was first coined by Steven Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The abundance mentality is defined as “the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody” as opposed to the scarcity mentality which views “life as a finite pie.” For example, imagine having a crush on someone. You may think they’re absolutely perfect; they’re funny, smart, interesting, cute, and everything else under the sun that might make them attractive. However, you finally decide to make a move and, for whatever reason, they reject you. The scarcity mentality can spur a  mental spiral: I’ll never find someone perfect for me, I’ll be alone forever, I’m running out of time to find someone, I’m not good enough, etc. However, by actively adopting an abundance mentality instead, you can shift your perspective entirely and drastically increase your quality of life. If they don’t like you, why would you want to be with them anyway? You deserve someone who wants you deeply, and there are plenty of people out there who you haven’t even met yet who can provide that for you. You have your whole life ahead of you, and it’s far better to wait for the right person than to focus on someone who isn’t right for you. 

Tip 5: Treat Yourself How You Want To Be Treated. 

One of the most helpful exercises for a single person is writing a blueprint for your perfect partner. Consider the traits you want your partner to have (whether that’s having the same sarcastic sense of humor or being close to their mother); it can be as deep or shallow as you like. Think about any deal breakers, red flags, yellow flags, or anything else you need to consider whenever you’re ready to put yourself out there. Amidst your detailed account of your ideal partner, consider how you want them to treat you and how you want them to make you feel. While you can’t control when you meet your perfect person or how accurate your concept of them will be in reality, you can control how you treat yourself. If you really value gift-giving and would love a partner who buys you flowers or small trinkets that remind them of you, realize you have the power to do that for yourself too. If you want someone to make you feel safe and special, practice daily affirmations or meditations and remind yourself how beautiful you are inside and out. Above all else, be kind to yourself. Everyone wants to feel loved and respected, but you don’t need someone else to make you feel that way. By treating yourself with love and kindness, it’s hard to feel lonely.

Teagan Angell, Fordham University

Writer Profile

Teagan Angell

Fordham University
Political Science and Psychology

My name is Teagan Angell and I’m from the Poconos in Pennsylvania. At Fordham, I’m in Every Vote Counts and the Fordham Political Review. I love music, movies, coffee and art.

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