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Sex with Dr. Jess


November 20, 2019

Here’s What We Know About Cuffing Season

Is cuffing season a real thing? Jess joined Jeff and Carolyn this morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show to further discuss. Check out her notes and video segment below.

The desire to commit to a partner during the cooler months is reflected in the online dating data. One study found that there is an increase in searches related to dating in winter months with a peak in January. However, this pattern is cyclical with another peak during the summer. It’s notable that these search increases are not only related to relationships, but also to sex and porn, so it’s not necessarily a matter of cuffing per se.

The Facebook data with regard to relationship status also suggests net gains in the winter season at 34% more new relationships that breakups on December 25th, 28% more on December 24th and 29% more on February 14th.

Why might someone want to dive into a relationship in the Winter and avail themselves of commitment in the Spring?

Some theories suggest that it’s hormonal. It’s possible that as testosterone levels rise and serotonin levels drop that we’re more inclined to pair up. But this doesn’t explain the uptick in the summer months when the opposite can be true for testosterone and serotonin.

Practical factors may also play a role: folks want someone to take to the company party or family gatherings.

Of course, some folks will suggest that it’s evolutionary, but I wouldn’t want to overstate the need to survive the harsh climate as a reason to jump into a relationship.

If you feel you might be inclined to attach yourself to someone temporarily, what should you do?

First and foremost, be honest. This requires two steps: honesty with yourself and then honesty with your partner. Take some time to reflect and think about what you really want from a relationship. If you know that this arrangement is temporary, ask yourself why and take responsibility for your role. Don’t blame your partner. Once you know what you want and why you want it, be forthcoming with your partner so that you aren’t setting them up for hurt feelings in the future.

If you find you’re inclined to cuff yourself to someone who doesn’t lead you to feel loved and fulfilled, ask yourself why and perhaps focus on self-love this season instead of faking it. What can you do to like yourself more and be the type of person you’d want to date or hang out with? Do you need to change your attitude toward winter and appreciate the beauty of the snow instead of complaining about the cold? Do you want to do something to increase your energy levels and mood (e.g. working out, dancing, meditating, painting, writing)? Do you want to spend more time alone to really enjoy your own company? If you’re inclined to get cuffed for the sake of having a partner you don’t like/care for, consider how you can love yourself a little more first.

If you’re worried that your partner isn’t as committed to your relationship or is using you temporarily, what should you do?

Speak up. Ask them how they feel, but don’t make accusations. Be open to hearing what they have to say. Oftentimes when someone doesn’t want to commit, it isn’t about you — it’s about their specific needs and plans.

Regardless of relationship status, what advice do you have for a happy, fulfilling winter season?

First and foremost, see if you can shift your perspective just a tiny bit to appreciate the weather. I struggle with this and have for my entire life, but I do know that I’m lucky to live in Canada — ranked the 9th happiest country in the world out of 156 this year and 7th overall in 2018. What’s interesting is that all the countries ahead of us — Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden (all except New Zealand) have harsh winters as well, but they celebrate them. They get outside and they’re active in the cold. They say there is no bad weather; only bad clothing.

Next, invest in your relationships all year long — from friendships to workplace connections to intimate relationships — put in the effort, because relationships are the most important predictor of your life satisfaction, health and even your income according to a some studies. If something isn’t working, ask yourself what you can do differently and then implement it. Only after you’ve done your part, ask your partner/friend/co-worker for what you need to open up the floor for conversation.