The Science Behind the Phenomenon of “Cuffing Season”

The weather has cooled down to a crisp temperature and the leaves have transformed to beautiful, bright and fiery shades and are gracefully dropping from the trees. It is time to bundle up in cozy sweatshirts, boots or scarves, and apparently heat things up with a new romance. That’s right, “cuffing season” has commenced. This is, at least, according to college students.

So what exactly is cuffing season? As simply stated by Urban Dictionary, cuffing season is a time when “during the fall and winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves, along with the rest of the world, desiring to be ‘cuffed’ or tied down by a serious relationship … the cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate.”

So basically, cuffing season refers to the yearly phenomenon where singles everywhere enter in to new relationships, for reasons that may be otherwise questionable. Naturally, this begs the question “What reasons?”

For the younger generation of folks in particular, this trend is very real. But you may be surprised to learn that there may just be a little bit of science or psychology behind individuals’ desire to be “cuffed” during the cold.

According to Jack Demarest, a psychology professor, “This is not an unusual phenomenon.” As an evolutionary psychologist and from a Darwinian evolutionary standpoint, he said, “This behavior could be a short term mating strategy which provides benefits for both the men and women who adopt them, especially when resources are in short supply.” This historically is during the harsh and barren winter months.

In the article “Summer Lovin’ or Summer Leavin’?” by Dr. Gary Lewandowski, Chair of Psychology, and co-creator and co-editor of, a chart displaying peak break up times shows spring break as having one of the highest rates. “Notice that winter months are low and summer months have an uptick” said Lewandowski.

Also in the article, he pointed out the “major period of Spring Break-ups” on the chart. Dr. Lewandowski stated that the chart may be a bit skewed towards encompassing a population of college students, since the data was collected from Facebook posts. The data is not applicable towards the sector of the public who do not use computers.

But the fact remains: a major trend of break ups was observed in young adults around springtime, when the weather begins to warm and the holidays and winter months end. In addition, the months from September to November hosted the lowest rates.

When asked about cuffing season and why the trend existed, Jennifer Retchenbaugh, a senior finance major, said “People get lonely and bored. Winter comes and you basically just have to stay inside and relax. It’s nice to have someone to settle down with for that time of the year. But it’s kind of shallow really.”

Maybe chilly weather cuffing comes from the desire to have someone next to for those cold winter nights or snowy days. Maybe you need a willing victim to drag to awkward family gatherings for the holidays. Perhaps, you want someone to buy presents for, or of course, receive presents from. It may even be an unconscious and primal survival strategy inherited from dozens of generations before us, or simply because the “most wonderful time of the year” has stars in your eyes.

Whatever it is, it seems there is something about the change of seasons that has people wanting to be wanted.

College students have a habit of becoming romantics when winter comes, and becoming bachelors and bachelorettes again when life heat up in the summer. If that’s the case, you better hurry and find someone to drink hot cocoa with or drag to your embarrassing family Christmas party now, because Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

Remember that your companion of choice does not necessarily have to be Mr. Right or Miss Perfect, because according to typical cuffing season custom, the relationship probably won’t make it past spring break anyway.

I mean let’s put it this way, it’s not like you need to lock it up and throw away the key. But on the bright side, your significant other will most likely give you that warm and fuzzy feeling you are looking for this holiday season and help get you through the frigid temperatures. So cuff up and enjoy!