Winter is coming – and you know what that means: sweaters, mulled wine, cozy Netflix nights in… and the full swing of cuffing season.

The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely 

Good old Urban Dictionary defines the term (coined in 2011) as the “fall and winter months where 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.”

46% of members stated fall as the most romantic season

According to dating app Hinge, the season officially begins on the 1st November and fittingly concludes the day after Valentine’s Day. Their app experiences a 15% spike in users actively looking for a relationship with women 5% more likely to look for love then and men 11% less likely to seek out relationships during the summer months.

iStock / wundervisuals

While coupling up is all well and good, you don’t want to be strewn along into loved-up coupledom during the hibernation months only to be dumped come spring/summer.  So, if you’re receiving those out of the blue text messages and DMs from prospective suitors in the fall, make sure you know their intentions.

We enlisted help from the experts to confirm how to know if you’re being cuffed…

Your dates get more serious.

Dates related to “cuffing” will have strong social and emotional components, and won’t just be about sex, having fun, and/or passing the time. In fact, fall is considered the most loved-up season according to an Elite Singles survey where 46% of members stated fall as the most romantic season of them all.

They will focus on emotional bonding on dates

“A cuffer will want you to hang out with family and friends and go to events related to their hobbies and interests (including attending religious services),” says certified counselor and relationship expert David Bennett. “So, they will focus on emotional bonding on dates as well, and prioritize long periods of just talking and connecting over doing things that are simply fun and/or sexual.”

You’re both feeling the family pressure.

Of course, people look for commitment all the time but there is a pressure to enter into a relationship around the fall because of the traditions and holidays during that period extending into the winter.

They are only texting because they don’t want to be alone and are trying to find a ‘quick option’ date

“Most people want to be coupled up during these times because of family pressure,” reveals Bennett. “The assumption that holidays are happier if you are in a relationship, as well as wanting an instant date to holiday parties instead of having to show up single makes people want to get into a relationship.

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Exes are excellent cuffers

“It’s also the time when students go back to school, so people who broke things off in the summer are once again around a lot of people their own age [and perhaps the partner they broke up with when the semester ended]. So, the social pressure to couple off during the fall is high.”

They’ll want to meet your friends and family.

If they want to cuff you, they’ll definitely want to meet your family and friends, fact.

iStock / ViewApart

“They will also want you to share in their hobbies and interests. They may invite you to a concert to see their favorite obscure band or take a trip to an out of the way diner they used to go when they were a kid,” adds Bennett.

You may also get invited to a family event, or even a religious or political event so be prepared.

Your phone keeps buzzing – but only around the holidays.

Dating Expert at Once, Ezgi Ceren Işık says seasonal holidays are a key time for ‘cuffers’ to come out and play.

“Expect to get a text asking to ‘hang out’ two days before big seasonal events such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day – but they are only texting because they don’t want to be alone and are trying to find a ‘quick option’ date.”

They won’t make plans from spring-time onwards.

“If things are moving very quickly then that person might be wanting to cuff you,” reveal Jens Kammerer and Benjamin Roth, the founders of Jaumo dating app. 

They tend to make plans that are immediate but not long-term

Did you go from one mediocre date to comments on social media and them asking to meet-up multiple times a week?

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Thing is, if a ‘cuffer’s’ intentions aren’t long-term, that intensity will die out as quickly as it began.

“They tend to make plans that are immediate but not long-term. Your date has made plans for this week and this month but from spring-time onwards, your calendar may be blank.”

Your partner lists every milestone.

You know how people started making three-month anniversaries a thing? This may well be them trying to cuff you.

iStock / Vasyl Dolmatov

“If someone is very conscious of different ‘steps’ in the development of your relationship, like talking about how long they have known you, how many times you have seen each other, as well as being aware of how many friends and family members of yours they have met etc, they are clearly focusing on defining what you are as a couple,” says Bennett.  

You’re being invited to Netflix and chill.

Going outside is too much effort in cuffing season so you’ll be invited over for indoor activities instead. In fact, 64% of Americans say that watching a movie on the sofa with a bottle of wine is one of their top three date ideas during cuffing season.

iStock / wundervisuals

“You’ll go on cozy, indoor type of dates that usually don’t leave the house. Think home-cooking and watching Netflix and films on the sofa together. Date wear will often consist of your pajamas rather than dressing up and making an effort,” say Kammerer and Roth.

You’re getting more DMs than usual.

“If you’re getting contacted more than ever or having an ex make an appearance again (exes are excellent cuffers as they already know your habits, likes and turnons), it may be because it’s cuffing season,” says Matchmaker at Preferred Match Christina Jay.

iStock / martin-dm

“To avoid not being in a serious relationship or a relationship of this kind, you need to be straightforward with your intentions and needs from the beginning so you can set firm boundaries to not fall into this type of courtship (or more so lack of).”

You don’t feel that secure in your relationship.

Yes, the problem with being cuffed in the winter is that when summer returns, the desire to be free and single comes back with it – so stay vigilant about whether your partner is in it for the long-haul or just part-time.  

Especially since warmer weather actually increases the level of serotonin in the human body, which stimulates the desire to meet new people (and possibly be single.)

Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want from the outset

“Get out at the first sign of ‘cuffing’ if you are looking for something more,” advise Kammerer and Roth. “Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want from the outset so there are no confusing messages or signals.

“Get creative with your chat-up lines and get active on dating apps to keep your options open before deciding to commit to one person. The more active you are on dating apps and in real life, the more chance you will have a finding someone who is on the same page as you.”