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Good ol’ cuffing season, the time of year where emotions get mixed up more than hard liquor and Coke. If you are not familiar with what exactly cuffing season is all about, urban dictionary has personally given me the best definition so far: During the Fall and Winter months 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. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.

The End is Near

Now while there is some confusion on when Cuffing Season starts, it’s generally agreed upon that the season is in full swing around Halloween (depending on whether you want to get those couple Halloween costumes off). Thanksgiving is when the first progress reports are due, and Christmas is what we consider the all-star break of cuffing season. Once we pass Valentine’s Day, we all know that we are headed to the offseason of cuffing season. This leads to people being forced to make decisions on the seasonal baes they may have picked up over the winter. Are we signing contract extensions or are we releasing you back into the free agent pool? Hopefully this article will help you in deciding which path you should take.

Cuffing Season Is Necessary, If Only Temporary

In order to understand where to go from here, we must first understand how we got to this point. Most “cuffing season” situations are born out of a mixture of convenience and peer pressure. Midwest winters are not fun at all and has a dampening impact on a lot of people’s social lives. Not only are we less likely to go out and be social because it’s as cold as a polar bear’s toe outside, but when we do go out? The people we see are less attractive! The winter brings ashy, pale skin and women drop the form fitting outfits for mass layers of clothing that fails to give an accurate representation of what you’re working with.

Unfortunately, we humans have an actual need to for human connection and interaction. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago and coauthor of a book titled, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, said “social isolation has an impact on health comparable to high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, or smoking” and goes onto say that social media may not be a suitable replacement for human interaction.

So not only is there a physical benefit to finding someone to cuff, but there’s a social benefit as well. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day are all holidays that society has told us are enhanced with a mate and we throw shade at people who seem to be overly single during this time frame.

How Do You Know If Your Contract Was Long Term Or Not?

But where do we go once this time frame has passed? In order to decide that you have to analyze your interactions with this person over the past couple of months. For example, if you do not hear from this person/contact this person while it is still light outside? It’s probably not meant to be a long-term thing, beloved. The reasoning being, you weren’t in a relationship, you were just a recurring booty call and while sex is amazing, it cannot be the sole foundation to anything that’s going to make it through the dog days of summer.

Another question to consider is: Have you guys been seen in public together? Yes, social media does count. Oftentimes, people don’t necessarily pop up with boyfriends/girlfriends during cuffing season, they just fade into relative silence for the duration. Occasionally tweeting about “him/her”, posting your MCM’s arm so we know that you have a man without knowing who that man actually is, putting what they got you on Valentine’s Day on IG without posting the person, etc.

Those things are not offering up your “relationship” for public consumption and that should give you pause on continuing the situation further. It’s a lot harder to hide things in the summer and there has been plenty of relationships that wilted under the heat.

Not only do you have to analyze the interactions between you and your partner, but you also need to analyze your own emotions when it comes to this person. Can you stand to be around this person for hours at a time when sex isn’t on the table? Do you feel comfortable enough with the person to lay in the bed with them, AFTER the deed is done? Or within 30 minutes, someone is asking, “So what are you about to do?”

If you answer no to the first two questions, you should probably answer no to a relationship with them as well. Do you find yourself stalking their social media in anyway shape or form? They got you out here searching for subtweets and ready to pop off on the person who laughed a little too hard at their joke or the person who keep leaving heart eyes and kissy faces under their pics on IG. Then you remember, y’all not “technically” together so you fall back? If that’s you, it sounds like you need to have the “what are we” talk sooner rather than later.

It’s Over. Now What?

Which leads to the major key (No DJ Khaled) when it comes to the proper way to move forward after cuffing season, communication. It takes two to tango and it also takes two to make a relationship work and both parties have to be on the same page. If one person is planning the wedding and the other person is waiting for #DayPartySZN then it’s simply not going to work out. This is why communication is key, early and often.

In the beginning of cuffing season, it is ideal to make sure everyone understands the terms of the arrangement. Yes, feelings can change, what once was someone you looked at as just a cuddle buddy, could become the love of your life (because you found out she loves the Cavs, can make better mac and cheese than your momma and she was a gymnast in her past life) but if that’s the case, you should communicate that as well.  Because the onus to communicate is placed squarely on the person who wants to change the status quo.

Count Your Blessings. What’s yours, is yours

In conclusion, the end of cuffing season is near and it may be time for some spring cleaning in your personal life. Deciding whether your winter bae was here for a reason or just a season is always a tough situation but whatever path you decide to go, you must do it decisively. I’m always in favor of getting it over with, whatever “it” may be because that allows yourself more time to analyze the new normal.

If you end up in a relationship, that’s awesome. If you don’t, then be thankful for the times you shared and the lessons that you have learned.  If you were single for the duration of cuffing season, then get excited! Warm weather is coming, you get your friends back, and day parties are a wonderful thing.  And when the object of your affection pops back on IG with no signs of anyone cuffing that, that’s when you do like my mentor JR Smith says, “When in doubt, shoot.”

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