“Coupling up” for the winter months takes on new meaning
It’s that glorious time of year . . . the period during fall and winter when one handcuffs oneself to another for the season—aka cuffing season.
Yes, it is a thing. You know what I’m talking about. And they’ve finally given it a name. It is that marvelous, magnificent, fairy-tale-like period that can be dreadful, cheesy, and charged with desolation for Solo Moms. Personally, I become a bundle of bad-tempered, bitter bitch-joy because I freaking hate being single during cuffing season and on the actual holidays themselves, though I’m not sure why.
The term has been around for a while but didn’t become part of the dating vernacular until recent years. Cuffing (“hunting”) season technically begins at Halloween, with prey generally captured and gutted by Thanksgiving, and is firmly in place through Valentine’s Day—ergo sealing the deal on that coveted holiday gift-giving partner and New Year’s Eve kiss. It’s the time of year when everyone seems to be in a relationship—except you. Although most single women experience the phenomenon, the perception of being “uncuffed” is magnified for Solo Moms—particularly those with exes who have moved on to much younger partners, generally blondes.
In the spring and summer months, daters look for more casual encounters (aka summer flings). They take the wild, adventurous “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” vacation or the week at Club Med with the conveyor belt of sexual partners; whereas, in cooler months, people are more likely to look for something more serious and committed (aka cuffing).
Although there is not much scientific evidence behind cuffing season, some believe there could be a biological component, as cooler weather brings a natural and instinctive desire for warmth (aka canoodling). It may also be that cold weather–produced, prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely, thus creating a desire to partner. After a summer of noncommittal hookups, daters (especially bachelors) are tired, so they actively search for someone with whom to watch Netflix and snuggle. (Note: I did not say “chill.”)
Or perhaps it’s just the holidays in general that unleash a greater desire for romance. (Thanks a lot, Bing Crosby; The Bishop’s Wife; Love Actually; While You Were Sleeping; and When Harry Met Sally! Damn you, Meg Ryan. You’re a single mom. You should know better!)
So what does cuffing season mean for us Solo Moms?
We don’t have summer flings. We are moms. Our summer flings are with Frisbees thrown at our kids. Our riotous summer adventures are at water parks. Our wild Cub Med escapades are at the family resorts, generally populated by the nuclear sort—ergo zero romantic prospects; ergo other people’s loud, noisy, screaming kids; ergo making you want to go nuclear.
We Solo Moms don’t have a cuffing season. Because if someone cuffs us, they cuff our offspring as well . . . and I don’t know that there is a “chain gang season.”
So during this time of The Cuff, just go about your business. Make your way through the fall and winter months as you do all others: with love and humor. Be thankful you can take off that bathing suit and put the mom jeans back on—because the mom jeans are a lot more comfortable.
But don’t give up on dating. Although your prospects might be smaller, if the occasion presents itself—go for it! You deserve the attention, the occasional night out, the kid-free adult time with the opposite sex, even if cuffing clearly is not in the cards with this particular person. You may not get cuffed, but you might get a decent glass of wine.
- Don’t stress over it.
- Don’t read the blogs.
- Don’t read the magazines.
- And for the love of God, don’t watch Bravo or AMC because there is no need to suffer holiday love stories whilst making fudge and picking tinsel out of your kids’ hair.
Keep doing what you did last month and the month before, and enjoy the grown-up parties at school and work ’cuz you never know, there just may be a dad from accounting whom you’ve never met, who has his own kids every other week, and who might be into the whole chain gang thing.
And if not, you have your kids—and that’s who the “holidays” are for in the first place.
Take comfort in that, lean into the season of The Cuff knowing that with or without a date, you will have a super, merry, happy, jolly time.
And rest assured you will get the last laugh when all those super, merry, happy, jolly, cuddly, kid-free “cuffed” couples are making out with drunk strangers on a beach in just a few short months.
Happy cuffing season!
Kathleen Laccinole, ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, has penned numerous films and parenting books but is best known for producing the highly lauded Greta, age 20, and William, age 16.
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