The Science Behind Cuffing Season

Holidays
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The holidays are here, and that means cuffing season is in full swing as daters look to settle down with a significant other.

Cuffing season starts as the weather gets cooler and people look to snuggle up with a partner, or be “cuffed” to someone instead of remaining single. The holidays definitely amplify this tendency, as we are bombarded with pictures of happy families and people kissing under the mistletoe, Christmas lights sparkling. It can make you feel like something is missing if you aren’t in a relationship.

The truth is, cuffing has been around for a while, even if the term is relatively new. According to research, more babies are born in the late summer months than any other time of year, thanks to couples getting cozy during the long, cold winter months. Additional studies that show there is a physiological increase in testosterone and estrogen levels during the winter. So biologically, our bodies are programmed to snuggle up with someone special during this time of year.

Researchers have drawn other conclusions, too. During the colder months, people are more likely to feel sluggish and prefer to stay in rather than go out and socialize because it gets darker earlier and our bodies release more melatonin, causing more drowsiness. This means that whoever you happen to be dating right now might become a cuffing partner out of convenience, rather than attraction or desire.

Dating app OkCupid reports a huge increase in people looking for love in the winter months, about 30 percent over those who look in the fall. But there is also a tendency to stay close to home. The dating app notes that in certain cities where the weather is really cold, some people lower the minimum distance that they are willing to go to meet someone new. For example, they only look within a five-mile radius from their homes rather than a fifteen-mile radius.

And what about social pressure? This can definitely contribute to reasons for cuffing season. We can all sympathize with the plight of Bridget Jones, alone for the holidays and bombarded with questions from family members about her single status and how long she wants to wait before getting hitched. How many of you have put up with well-meaning friends and family waiting to corner you with questions about your personal life? It’s not fun, and can make the holidays a real chore. This is more incentive to get cuffed, (although be prepared to get cross-examined about the new guy/ girl in your life if you do this).

According to website The Knot, more people get engaged during cuffing season, too. In 2016, about four in ten (37 percent) of couples got engaged between November and February.