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Grab your keys, cuffing season is here

Ohio State graduates Kevin Patrick (left) and Chelsea Patrick (right) embrace underneath two sunset maple trees outside the Agricultural Administration Building during their engagement photo session in autumn 2015. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo Editor

Now that we’re on the verge of winter, students are itching to settle down. Hold onto your seats partners, it’s cuffing season.

Cuffing — a derivative of handcuffing — is a term used to describe the inclination for singles to be more likely to look for a relationship in the winter months rather than in spring and summer.

“It’s a human need to have intimacy, and so during the winter months you are less likely to be willing to go out and meet someone,” said Claire Kamp Dush, an associate professor of human sciences and a romantic relationship expert. “It’s a way to have intimacy over the winter months, but have it take less effort.”

Zawwar Khan, a fourth-year in mechanical engineering, first heard the term in 2013 after hearing the song “Cuffin’ Season” by rapper Fabolous. For Khan, the meaning behind the term implies a short-lived relationship.

“Cuffs are never backed up to be long-term feelings, it’s just a way to be tied down for a few months,” Khan said. “A cuff is nothing but a short-term relationship that can be used as an excuse to not go out during those chilly winter weekend nights.”

In 2015, the dating app Hinge polled 1,000 active users and found that men are 15 percent more likely to be looking for a relationship in the winter over any other season, whereas women are 5 percent more interested in a more committed relationship during those months.

Despite obvious drawbacks of entering a relationship that might have an expiration date by spring, there are benefits of settling down over the winter in comparison to having various summer flings. Kamp Dush said being in a consistent relationship provides better social support that individuals need.

“One of the developmental parts of adulthood is finding and forming satisfying intimate relationships, and to get to that you need to have satisfying relationship experiences,” Kamp Dush said. “If you are constantly having short-term relationships … you are not learning what you were really looking for in a partner.”

While long-term relationships can be a possible outcome, Khan understands the possible fallout from these winter tendencies.

“People quickly forget about all of the partying and fun they had over the summer, and they just need someone to snuggle up with and watch Netflix,” Khan said. “If this is only a short-term feeling, that will quickly fade as April rolls around, that’s when you have become a victim of cuffing season.”

While having a cuff is neither bad nor good in comparison to other types of relationships, Kamp Dush urges — as with any romantic relationship — students be respectful of their partner through truthful conversation about relationship intentions.

“One thing I would suggest is being open and honest about what your expectations for this relationship are,” Kamp Dush said. “Ideally, finding someone that shares those expectations. You could be surprised and it could be the start of something great.”

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