180130_emh_coupleholdinghands_0002.JPG

A couple holds hands on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Emily Haney, emilyhaney.com)

As spooky season creeps closer, lone wolves seek a seasonal boo to ward away winter haunts. "Cuffing season," lasting from fall until after Valentine’s day, refers to the period of time where people seek longer-term relationships – someone to cuddle with while the temperatures drop. While a social phenomenon, "cuffing season" also correlates with increased testosterone during winter months, increasing libido, and men finding women’s bodies more attractive in the winter, suggesting a biological basis as well as cultural.

The term “cuffing season” comes from a shortening of “handcuff,” and despite the sexual connotations associated with romance and handcuffs, the seasonal spooning implies no greater promiscuity than any other relationship. Instead, the terminology of handcuffs refers to the idea of obligation to a romantic interest for the winter season following a “freeing” from romantic expectations come spring, when "cuffing season" ends.

Seeking an impermanent partner for that picture-perfect New Years’ kiss is all well and good, but the connotations behind “cuffing” imply unhealthy relationship dynamics. Even joking about a romantic interest manifesting as an unwelcome obligation, such as calling a wife “the old ball and chain,” implies an unhappiness with a relationship that should be addressed rather than mocked.

As opposed to seeing a seasonal partner as “cuffed” to their cold companion, celebrate them. Movies and hot cocoa, ice skating and skiing, cozy nights indoors and adventures outdoors with someone there to keep you warm and enjoy your company.

Language matters, and referring to a significant other as “cuffed” promotes a damaging perception of one’s relationship. “Cuffing season” insinuates that autumnal relationships, regardless of length, matter little and that these relationships emerge from desperation rather than affection. These implications diminish genuine feelings in any winter snuggle and suggest a shallowness that reflects poorly on anyone seeking a relationship during this period.

Rather than calling fall and winter flings “cuffing season,” give them the same respect relationships during any other season garner. Every season is the season to give significant others love, respect and affection; cold weather simply makes snuggles more tempting and hot dates all the more charming. Stop using the term “cuffing season” and start celebrating the first frosts and brighter night stars with loved ones to ensure healthy relationships and happy months.