The unofficial cuffing season calendar puts us right around that time of the year when you should be narrowing down the roster to make your final snuggle-buddy selection. If you're somehow unfamiliar with cuffing season (a.k.a. Winter), it's when those who typically enjoy singlehood forego their freedoms to settle down for Netflix and "chill" through the coldest months of the year. “Cuffing Season is the phenomenon of figuratively and emotionally cuffing yourself to another person during fall and winter for the two I’s: Intercourse and Intimacy,” writer Elena Feldman clarifies in her cuffing season explainer. Although it's popular to try and find a cuff buddy willing to play house until March, not everyone is that invested in this three-to-four-month dance of time-wasting. And believe it or not, it is possible to survive the season uncuffed—and still get laid.
Erika Ramirez, author of Too Much and founder of ILY Magazine, a magazine about love, tells Complex why she doesn’t participate in cuffing season:
“I don't care to even dip my toes in uncertainty, which tends to follow when you attach and detach from someone, especially within a short time-span that was driven by passion. Or, having to reassure someone of their worth, even though you thought you were both on the same page from jump. (And doing away with someone, or being thought of something to do away with, is high key disrespectful.) We've all watched the friends with benefits films; we've all lived through them. Hardly ever do emotions not get tangled up along with the sheets.”
The foundation of surviving cuffing season—and enjoying it while single—is self-love. You need to get very familiar with yourself to deepen this self-appreciation. Spending a little more time alone is a great way to do that, Ramirez says: “I think some confuse being alone with being lonely. You can be with someone and still feel lonely. You can be alone and not feel lonely. Both are legit states, but I think once someone differentiates which they're living in, it's easier to calm your anxiety and concentrate on what will truly make you happy.”
This self-love will make it easier for you to say no to "settling" for less than what you want, perhaps to the point of being perceived as "self-absorbed." But it's important to take the extra time to yourself to work on passion projects, learn new skills, and make new friends.
The foundation of surviving cuffing season—and enjoying it while single—is self-love.
Find your like-minded friends with roomy apartments, cable television, and strong Wi-Fi. “I love having my best friend over, scheme to take over, and bounce ideas off one another; take time to build our dreams,” Ramirez muses. Between a group of friends, you should be able to scrounge together access to Netflix, HBOGo, Hulu, Apple Music, Tidal, and whatever else you may need. (And if not, you can always crowdsource it from Twitter!) Together, you can binge-watch shows or movies, have midday dance parties, and co-work with accountability buddies.
Summer is the season for loose plans and letting a day or night get away from you while moving from party to party—not Winter. Snow and cold mean serious business. Although it's tempting to stay cooped up, you'll need a break from the monotony of Winter and all your cuffed friends. Come February, plan a trip somewhere warm. Between now and then, try to hammer out your holiday travel and work hours to lock down a trip specifically for you. With all the money you'll save on going out less, you can do a staycation in your own city and find a spot with an indoor pool or jacuzzi.
If your financial situation is rough, plan an apartment-swap with some friends, or crash at your friend's place and do something in a new neighborhood. When you have activities like concerts, museum visits, and parties with friends lined up every few weeks, you'll have a lot to look forward to and less time to indulge in those sad winter hermit attitudes.
If your financial situation is really leaving you high and dry and therefore holed up at your crib, figure out how to make some extra money. Get a seasonal job and be done in time for the new year with extra cash. Put your skills to use and make money online while you're home in bed—any side work can offer more structure, kill idle time, and most importantly, help you get paid.
If all else fails, adopt a dog (preferably a rescue). They may not be able to order Seamless for you (lack of thumbs and all), but pets provide you with something to focus on, a sense of responsibility, lifetime companionship (cue Sarah McLaughlin), and a true cuddle buddy who'll be there for years worth of cuffing seasons.