As you abide through the last of windy autumn with thick scarves and knit sweaters, finally breaking out the pea coats and down puffers at the turn of December— and maybe a pair of mittens in preparation for the below-zero months to come— you might be struck with a strange feeling as you bundle up under your duvet for the night. A type of chill that no amount of layered blankets and expertly-placed space heaters can permeate. A heightened awareness of the empty space at the other end of the kitchen table, or at the end of the couch. Oh no, suddenly you want to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary for the umpteenth time, and you’re weeping at that scene where Mark Darcy tells Bridget he likes her just the way she is? That’s how you know, once again, ‘tis the season of cuffing.
Cuffing season, as much as you’ll find the term peppered across sardonic tweets and instagram captions, does hold some biological and sociological merit. According to research, the regulation of testosterone and estrogen become heightened in the colder months. We instinctively begin to seek shelter and warmth— whether it be a another human who can physically provide such needs, or simply stimulate emotions that result in heightened body temperature. Seasonal festivities foster an increased desire to connect with others, with romance-centric media playing its role too. The more time we spend indoors due to low temperatures and shorter periods of daylight, the less opportunity we have to relationship-seek, resulting in an urge to settle down for something steady and comfortable. In pretty much every realm, humans are wired to find someone to shackle themselves to for the winter months.
As unbearably painful as it may seem watching your cuffed friends hit the ice rink on Valentine’s Day, I promise that cuffing season does not have to be the bane of every single person’s existence. I don’t think love has to only encapsulate our conventional notions of romance— there’s a warmth that comes with love in all of its forms. Love for your pals. Love for your wonderfully-curated winter spotify playlist. Love for a hot mug of peppermint tea. Self-love through self-care. There’s countless ways to fulfill that desire to feel connected, it may just take a little effort to reach out to the things you care about. In a sense, I think this season is a time to feel gratitude for anything that warms your heart. Use it as an excuse to treat friends, family, and yourself more affectionately than you normally might.
That being said, romantic love, as strange and miraculous as it is, demands an incredible amount of patience. If it doesn’t come this season, no need to wash all faith down the drain— it’ll be all the more meaningful when the right person does stumble into your life, because they’ll have been waiting, too. But in the meantime, go grab all the blankets in your house and revel in that increased tenderness of heart. You’ll feel all the way through February.