Winter is coming. And so is Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day. And cuffing season. If you’re single, you’ve likely upped your swiping activity, joined dating apps and are preparing yourself a cuff for the colder months.

And no, I’m not talking about fluffy handcuffs and some kinky fun! Cuffing season is the time of year when singles work their hardest to meet someone. The cold weather starts to kick in, the evenings are shorter and outdoor activities are less available. And singles become more lonely and sometimes more desperate. So they up the ante on finding someone to snuggle up with in a temporary relationship for the next 6 months.

And rightly so, with all the big holidays coming up, facing them on your own can feel like shit. Especially with aunts, uncles, cousins, and god only knows who else asking if you’ve met someone yet. Or worse, offering unsolicited dating advice and telling you stories about how so-and-so met so-and-so and are now expecting their second child. No one wants to be on the receiving end of that. 

And so we cuff for October to March, getting through all the major couple holidays and freeing ourselves again in time for Summer. 

And it makes sense; we all want someone to keep us warm at night. We are conditioned to believe that holidays are meant to be shared with an S.O. and that being in a relationship will bring you more joy. And let’s not forget a kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve. All of this leads to us kicking into cuff mode and settling down quickly, even someone, often accepting less than what you deserve.

If in the midst of everyone cuffing up for the winter months, you might meet someone you really like. You might be wondering how to know if you are in a temporary relationship or if there is genuine long-term potential. 

Here are 7 ways to know if you’re in a temporary relationship and being used as a cuff

  1. It happens so fast

No one wants a pen pal on a dating app, but it is normal to message for a few weeks before deciding whether or not to meet up for a drink or coffee. During cuffing season, there’s a lot more urgency. Cuffers don’t have time to waste, and they want to meet up straight away and settle down just as quick. If you feel like it’s happening fast and the pressure is on, it’s a sign that you are being used as a cuff. 

  1. They don’t have single friends

Being the only single one in a group of friends is hard! And if they don’t have any single friends, the chances are they are down for a relationship right now, without really getting to know each other or think things through. They’re looking for someone to bring on night’s out and even out the friendship group. 

  1. Couple holiday plans

If there’s signs of early plans to meet each other’s families. Meeting the family is a big deal. A really, really big deal. If they’re making plans as a couple for the holiday season that feels premature, then you are being used. They may be looking for a placeholder so they can avoid the dreaded questions that they usually get. If you’re being introduced to the family in the early stages of the relationship, it’s likely a cuffing.

  1. Netflix and chill… but nothing else

In the early days of dating, it’s essential to get out for dinner, do activities and get to know each other in different environments. And it feels good to dress up, make an effort and go out. And sex is always better after a romantic night, building your connection with each other. If you’re mostly at home watching movies, cuddled up on the couch, this doesn’t say romantic relationship. It screams cuffing.

  1. It’s a friend

This is an awkward one. Ever had a friend confess their undying love for you out of the blue? If there hasn’t been a sign of interest before now, and it’s coming into winter, your pal wants you to be their cuff. Maybe it’s an innocent show of love, and maybe they’re just trying to temporarily settle down with you.

  1. Ex’s coming out of the woodwork

Classic cuffing. When an ex suspiciously slides into your D.M.s, they’re on the hunt for a cuff. If you want o test the waters with them, by all means, do. But don’t be surprised if they drop you in March.

  1. They’ve made plans beyond March that don’t include you

It’s been a whirlwind romance; you’ve met each other’s families, spent an enormous amount of time together over the holidays. And now you’re beginning to think that this has real potential. You find yourself dreaming of a holiday together. Maybe the Algarve, or Tulum. But then you find out that he’s off on a lads holiday, he has no plans to holiday with you. YOU’VE BEEN CUFFED.

Cuffing is not all bad; there’s an upside to settling down for the colder months. If both people know that it’s a temporary relationship, then there’s less pressure. And you never know; it might develop into something real once you get to know each other.

But during cuffing season, we tend to ignore all the red flags and settle for someone you aren’t compatible with. You might overlook things that would usually be deal breakers for the sake of having a relationship. And this is a recipe for heartbreak.

And while cuffing season is on, don’t forget that being single is fun! You don’t have all the regular attachments and obligations that couples do. You get to march to the beat of your drum. Shrug off the obnoxious questions about your love life, and don’t let them get to you. You never settled, and that’s massive.

Spend the money you would otherwise spend on extra presents for your S.O. on even better presents for yourself. And organise something special for yourself for New Year’s Eve and Valentine Day. Because you deserve it.

And if you’re really struggling with relationships and loneliness issues, then talk to a friend, therapist or a coach who can help you find more joy in your life. You don’t have to be lonely just because you are alone.

Originally posted on Elephant Journal