In years past, the arrival of fall weather meant cute autumnal activities with the summer flings that stuck around. But as cuffing season rapidly approaches, and the coronavirus pandemic continues to reshape how we live, finding a boo to keep you warm may have higher stakes than years past. This summer, single people could take advantage of the warmer weather to date outdoors, in compliance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations. But as the weather gets cold, and hiking dates and park picnics become less comfortable, dating is going to become that much more difficult.
In the next few weeks, peak cuffing season will be here. Whether you're looking for someone to introduce to your family during the holidays or hoping to find a not-so-significant other to share your bed, studies have shown that cuffing season can be the best time to find a relationship. Ordinarily, cuffing season can be an exciting time to explore new connections. However, with dating indoors posing a risk, being single these days can start to feel hopeless.
Maggie*, a 23-year-old PR professional based in San Francisco, says being perpetually single makes her feel lonely. She longs for the comfort that can come with having a significant other, and says the pandemic has put undue pressure on connections that may have otherwise flourished.
“Toward the end of February and early March, I was seeing someone and had gone on a few dates... that relationship dissipated pretty quickly when we started to settle into what the world would become," she tells Elite Daily. Maggie and her partner tried to keep in touch with each other by virtually watching episodes of Ozark together, but as the pandemic continued, that fizzled out. Now, cuffing season is here and Maggie is single again.
The science is clear — if you're going to take the risk of meeting up with people outside your household, the safest place to do that is outside, where transmission rates have been lower than they are indoors. Some singles like Anna*, a 22-year-old teacher based in Washington, D.C., have enjoyed outdoor dates in parks. But how are you supposed to do that once it gets too cold to take a walk outside, let alone meet the love of your life (or your holiday season)?
Even though Anna tries not to let cuffing season affect her behavior, she does feel the impulse to couple up and have a romantic partner for the colder weather. In these last, fleeting moments of fall weather, Anna worries about putting undue pressure on nascent relationships. “When it gets cold, you can’t really go on dates at indoor restaurants or go to people’s houses at least until you get a sense of how safe they’ve been," she says. "I do feel a little bit of pressure to find someone that I’m excited about, which is hard to rush after a couple dates.”
But that may not be a bad thing. Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, says that dating during this time might actually be good for relationships. “People are approaching dating with a different level of intentionality," she says. "A lot of times there was less thought going into dating. Oh, I’ll just meet [them] for a drink and see how it goes. Now people are doing a different calculus to determine if meeting someone in person is worth it”. Dr. Rahmani wouldn’t be surprised if we see dating that results in much more serious commitment “because people aren’t going to suffer fools or make compromises”.
For some, this incredibly challenging cuffing season during a pandemic has led to an epiphany of sorts. When D.C. started to open up, Alexa*, a 22-year-old consultant, began to go on a number of dates, from outdoor dining to kayaking. But dating during quarantine has made her realize how much pressure she has been putting on herself. “This last person I was dating has made me question a lot of things," she says. "I’ve realized I’ve been pressuring myself to date a lot of people.” She’s decided to delete the apps and focus on spending (socially distant) time with people that she knows are going to bring her love and joy — her friends.
While Maggie, Anna, and Alexa agree the dropping temperatures place more pressure on their dates, they all say they plan to make it through a cold, quarantined cuffing season by making time for their most important platonic and familial relationships.
“I really emphasize friendship love," Anna says. "I’m really far from my family, and so I feel like [my friends are] my family here. Whatever void I feel about being single, I forget about when I’m with my friends... As long as I’m with my close friends, I feel OK."
*Name has been changed.