By Elizabeth Su, Contributor
The days become shorter, the weather turns bitter, and suddenly all those happy singles suddenly start pairing off. The whole world seems to yearn to curl up by the fire and sip hot cocoa with someone. Anyone. At least until Spring when the freedom of the single life calls again. If this sounds familiar, you might be falling victim to the effects of cuffing season.
Cuffing season is a term that first appeared in the Urban Dictionary in 2011 to describe the phenomenon during the Fall and Winter months when “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.” As the Urban Dictionary explains, “the cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”
Here are six things to keep in mind as you navigate the ups and downs of cuffing season:
Winter can be tough. Thanks to Instagram, it can feel like you are the only one who doesn’t have a date to the office holiday party. Take comfort in the fact that many people are in the same boat.
“During the winter season, I see a noticeable increase of clients who desire a romantic relationship as well as an increase in idealizing ‘the perfect relationship,’” Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S, a Virginia-based licensed Talkspace therapist said. “Research shows that during the winter months the cloudy or darker days cause our hormones to create changes that make us feel tired and sad. Thinking about having someone by our side motivates us and re-energizes us. That is one reason why are more prone to want to be in a relationship during the winter.”
When we are in the headspace of longing for love and companionship, it can be tempting to say “yes” to a relationship even if it isn’t quite right. Catchings warns her clients not to rush into relationships simply because they are worried they will never find their life partner.
“While it is true that we can never know someone completely,” said Catchings, “giving ourselves the opportunity to interact and learn more about the person we love might be the best and safest option.” “When we try to rush situations we might not think logically,” Catchings added. “Everything happens at the right time if we are patient and smart enough to wait.”
Wondering how to balance putting yourself out there while feeling confident you can live a happy life without a partner? Start by loving yourself first.
“My recommendation is to stay busy and do what you like,” said Catchings. “If we can be happy on our own, chances are we can live with and make someone happy as well.”
In other words, if you love yourself first, then you are more likely to have the capacity to love someone else too. The reverse may not be as true.
It can be challenging to keep your spirits high as a single person managing all the pressures from family about finding a partner and settling down. It is not uncommon to get peppered with questions about who you are dating, when you are getting married, and how soon you will have kids . Here are three tips to prepare for these family triggers:
In a society that glorifies fairy tale love stories and picture-perfect families, it can be hard to remember that getting married and having a family is just one path to happiness.
“Not everyone is in this world to form a happy relationship and have a family,” said Catchings. “We are unique individuals with different wants and likes. Each one of us has a purpose and many dreams.”
Do you like to travel to different countries, volunteer at local community organizations, or run your own business? “Having a partner is great but not the only thing that can bring happiness,” Catchings added. “Expand your horizons; the universe is the limit.”
Dating out of boredom or loneliness is never a good idea. No matter how much you think you should chase after the dream of a spouse, two kids, and a home in the suburbs, don’t settle for a life that doesn’t make you happy. “Be with people that you enjoy being with and do not waste your or their time,” advised Catchings. Life is too short to do anything out of obligation. It hurts you and the other person.
Bottom line: You do you. And if you happen to cross paths with a special someone at your rock climbing gym, in graduate school, or at your favorite coffee shop, enjoy the ride of a new relationship. You never know where life will take you but if you trust that happiness comes from within, it’s the journey itself that brings the most joy.
Originally published on Talkspace.
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