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Is ‘cuffing season’ real? A life coach’s advice for surviving the holidays single

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We live in an age of empowerment and independence. As men, we're beginning to realise there's no shame in expressing our feelings through our dear ducts.

Meanwhile, women that grew up with role models like Kim Possible know they don’t need men to save the world. Or better yet, those who were raised watching Ellen know they can do without men altogether. We tend to tie the knot and settle down much later in life compared to previous generations (even though we all know that girl whose adorable toddler has us reconsidering contraception every time we see their picture on social media).

But even in the age of empowerment, the season of thirst eventually rolls around, causing a drop in temperature and a serious epidemic of relationship fever. Urban Dictionary – the source besides Wikipedia we sadly can’t reference in essays – defines the phenomenon as cuffing season.

Unfortunately, the term has nothing to do with BDSM. In fact, it refers to the desire to be “cuffed or tied down by a serious relationship” once our willingness to go out and mingle gets crushed by the icy weather.

London life coach and dating expert Sabir (@sabir_london) totally believes cuffing season is a thing: “It’s true. People tend to spend more time inside during the cold months, which decreases their chances of meeting potential partners.”

He also blames the media for our unrealistic relationship expectations: “There is so much demand and pressure from television programmes, movies and billboard advertisements to be in a relationship and find that perfect person.”

According to the Internet, the cold is only one of the reasons people start to resent their single-dom. The holidays also play a major role in people’s desire to be cuffed – either literally or metaphorically. The horns come out on Halloween and linger on our hormone-fuelled heads until Christmas, New Year’s and possibly Valentine’s Day.

Being in a relationship can make for a much smoother holiday season. Forget the anxiety when friends back home question you about your personal life and you struggle to recall the last time you were even accidentally touched. Forget bae-less New Year’s Eve bacchanalia or lonely nights in watching The Holiday for the 14th time.

Life coach Sabir says singles shouldn’t get discouraged by the festive climate. Instead, he thinks they should see cuffing season as motivation or as an “opportunity to get out there”.

But not every matchmaking service is equally efficient when searching for a new flame. Seeing as most of us reserve the old number-on-the-bathroom-door trick for pranks rather than dates, we are left with dating apps, social media or the ever so rare spontaneity of a real life encounter.

Although the immediacy of dating apps satisfies shy and impatient users, swiping right might not be the best way to get cuffed.

Sabir says: “The very essence of two people coming together is what you call spark of attraction, which, in my opinion, can only be gained through face-to-face interaction. Dating apps don’t provide that.”

He adds: “We should let go of the idea of the perfect girl or the perfect guy. Instead, what dating apps do is play along with that perfectionism by allowing you to filter your image and hide behind a screen.”

Sabir has some useful pointers for those looking to swipe their way to a hot new match. The first is making sure you’re keeping it real on your app of choice. He says: “Be careful of who you’re portraying as a person. The last thing you want is to meet someone who is very disturbed by your appearance because it’s not as you see up on the phone.”

Secondly, he suggests keeping online messaging to a minimum: “Don’t prolong a conversation too much. It could become weeks and months and then you may not even meet them in the end.” Or worse, you could have wasted hundreds of texts and carefully selected emojis on someone who turned out to be incompatible.

Sabir concludes that joining dating apps is “our way as human beings of tricking ourselves that we’re dealing with our emotions.”

He says: “I recently worked with a client that had a fear of rejection, a lack in confidence. My advice to him was not to join an app. I told him he should go to live events where he would mix with different crowds. So if you’re someone who’s looking for a relationship, go out there. Make yourself known.”

Despite his scepticism, Sabir recently witnessed a dating app success story when his younger brother married a woman he’d met on Whisper. He says: “I’m sure there are people out there who find love on those apps, to the extent of getting married. But I don’t think there’s any replacement for meeting someone face to face.”

Going through life single can be exhausting. However, love wouldn’t taste quite so sweet if it were on the menu every single day. Plus, being in a relationship can be just as demanding. Couple Halloween costumes are often gag-worthy. Having a significant other will most likely suck your wallet dry on Christmas and Valentine’s Day. And how does one put up with the awkwardness of wiggling out of a relationship after realising they’ve been cuffed to a boring six all winter long?

We all know there’s no definitive set of guidelines when it comes to dating. The subject raises questions everyone is dealing with… or has dealt with before slapping on a dental implant and getting cuffed.

At least we can take comfort in the notion that every disastrous date, every lonely night spent watching Netflix, every defrosted single-portion meal has brought us one step closer to knowing what we’re looking for – be it an epic love story or a one-night stand. And that is what many are struggling to find out, cuffed, or uncuffed.

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