Your Step-by-Step Guide on How to Avoid Heartbreak This Cuffing Season


Have you ever been swept off your feet in the cooler seasons by what appeared to be a committed relationship, only to have your heart unexpectedly broken by your snuggle partner as soon as the temperature began to rise? News flash: you were probably being cuffed and you didn’t even know it! 

Rest assured, being used as a security blanket for the winter is not an isolated incident and is actually a universally recognised dating phenomenon known as “cuffing season”.  

Cuffing Season Explained  

According to matchmaker Erika Kaplan at US-based matchmaking company Three Day Rule, cuffing season is “a time when dating sees an uptick and singles are more motivated to couple up before it gets colder and harder to meet people out and about”. Oftentimes, the party looking for a long-term relationship is unaware this new one has an expiration date.

How to Spot a ‘Cuffer’ 

How do you tell if your partner is the real deal or just looking for a warm hand to hold?

Here are some signs you’re being cuffed: 

The Relationship Moves Too Fast  
While there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to dating, a key sign to look out for according to Bumble’s APAC Communications Director Lucille McCart is that the person is “wanting to advance the relationship more quickly than feels natural for example scheduling multiple dates per week”. 

You Haven’t Defined the Relationship (DTR) 
Important questions like “What are we?” and “Where do you see this going?” never come up and most plans made are short-term and rarely extend beyond the bedroom

You Haven’t Met Their Friends or Family   
Your relationship status remains unknown to others because you skipped the dating phase, and cut straight to Uber Eats with a side of “Netflix and chill”.  

To Cuff or Not to Cuff? 

Although painful for the person wanting something more long-term, finding a cuff buddy to hibernate with might actually be good for them, too.

“There is a science behind the trend too — we want to snuggle up more in winter because we still associate body heat with survival, so when it gets cold our brains are still wired to look for a human heat source,” says McCart.

US based dating coach, Blaine Anderson also believes singles are inclined to ‘cuff up’ before winter because “the types of social events where you’re likely to meet prospective partners tend to be fewer and further in-between”.  

With serotonin (AKA the “happy” chemical) levels naturally dropping with the temperature and shorter days being followed by longer nights, a desire to turn to people to satisfy basic human needs like comfort and connection might actually make sense.  

Do’s and Don’ts  

So, if you want to seek shelter this winter with a seasonal bae, here are some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to cuffing season:


Be Clear About Your Intentions 
Make sure you’re both down to cuff by being, as TDR matchmaker Erika Kaplan puts it, “honest and upfront so you don’t waste your time or theirs”.  

Communicate from time to time to ensure neither of you is overestimating the longevity or depth of your temporary arrangement. As McCart points out, “poor communication can derail a seasonal relationship really quickly, especially if one person’s feelings develop more than the others, so try and stay on the same page as your partner and communicate regularly”. 

Cuff Responsibly  
Make sure your feelings are rooted in reality because as Anderson explains, “cuffing season may heighten the risk of rushing into a relationship that doesn’t actually meet your needs. Feeling lonely isn’t fun but feeling trapped in a relationship with the wrong person is usually worse”. 


Get Attached 
Enjoy it for what it is and never assume exclusivity or that your partner will eventually change their mind. According to TDR Erika Kaplan, “people love people who are happy, confident, and passionate, so don’t allow dating to become your whole identity”.  

Get Caught up in the Cuff 
Anderson says that though it’s difficult, it’s important to not “let external pressures, like a desire to ‘cuff’ someone before winter, inappropriately influence your judgment about who is (or isn’t) a good partner for you.”  

Be Ashamed 
Feelings change. If you decide you want a long-term relationship with your cuffing partner, as McCart says, “don’t be ashamed to be open about that either!” 

If you do end up having a change of heart, keep in mind that not all couples who meet in the cooler months are destined for doom. A recent survey conducted by dating app Tinder revealed that only 14% of respondents actually want to be casually dating this winter whereas 68% would like to be in a relationship. So, maybe this means the odds are in favour for some seasonal flings becoming a permanent thing this winter? Only time will tell! 

Nicole Colantoni is a dating and mindset coach who is dedicated to building a community of empowered women. As POPSUGAR Australia’s dating columnist, Nicole shares updates on dating trends, advice, and answers your burning questions. Slide into her DMs to share what you’d like her to answer next. Nicole hosts the podcast Single At Thirty. You can listen here.

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