Cuffing season is upon us

Kendall McElhaney

First let me start this article with a quick shout out.

In the truest form of love possible: an open letter to the human I made direct eye contact with going west on Shields last week:

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Heyyy (throwback to 8th grade). We’ve never spoken but I feel like your voice would be the verbal equivalent of freshly whipped apple butter. Smooth and creamy, yet a subtle crisp kick that makes for a perfect autumn toast spread. You caught my eye at a red light. And that light burned so bright. As bright as the passion I felt for your gender nonconforming cheekbones. We made eye contact for about 5 seconds, but it felt like 5 years. I wanted so badly to stay in that moment with you forever, but alas our love was never meant to be. You saw me ridin’ solo, windows down, hair a mess with my hands nowhere near ten and two. You were coy, shy even. You had frosted tips. My weakness. You drove a Prius. My kryptonite. I can’t shake this feeling, I just wanted to reach out and hold you. But my window is broken so I couldn’t fit my whole arm out in time. You saw me struggle, which led me to believe you must be sensitive. Or judgmental. Either way, you drove it right into my heart. But I turned left.

As the leaves change and we dawn our summer leggings for our fall leggings, we all seek out someone to hold us close during those long dreary winter nights. Our social media news feeds are rattled with engagement announcements, baby photos, cute couples holding hands among fallen leaves and drinking pumpkin spice lattes, etc.  Suddenly a trip to the local King Soops seems daunting with the possibility of love looming around every corner. The potential to fall in love with a sweat-panted stranger is too much, so we aim a little closer to home and search for a companion who already exists in our inner circle. We start to think, “mhm maybe he isn’t so bad.” Or, “She’s pretty cool, except for that thing she does with leftover bacon grease.” We start looking for someone to fill our days with. Nothing too serious, but something more than a right Tinder swipe.

For those who don’t know, or are first year students from California, it gets pretty cold here in winter. And winter tends to last for what feels like an entire season of Private Practice, IE. too long. The frigid cold draws people farther away from outside activities and into the arms of their loved ones. Or the kinda cute guy’s arms/ bunk bed that you had Biochem with freshmen year. Either way, cuffing season is a very real thing. If you don’t know what cuffing season is – don’t worry, you will. For the next few weeks you’ll hear every frat guy on campus talk about it. They may also refer to it as “hunting season,” to which the proper response is EW NO THANK YOU GOODBYE. 

Cuffing season, meaning the act of figuratively “handcuffing” yourself to someone. This allows for you to have a companion with some form of consensual intimacy, without any real commitment. Also known as the greatest invention since Heelys.

It’s a great opportunity to tell the person you like that you like them, and then laugh off their possible rejection by claiming you were just looking to get “cuffed.” No commitment. No heartbreak. No familial ties. The perfect crime. 

Maybe you don’t want to tell your heart sparkle your true feelings. Maybe you just want someone. Anyone. THOUGH I WOULD ADVISE AGAINST THIS – Perhaps that person you wouldn’t give the time of day three months ago starts to look pretty enticing. You find yourself sending late night texts, playing it off like you’re just curious what they are up to when in reality you just want someone to drag you out of your cripplingly lonely desolate state. Filled with anguish and romantic comedies, you send the dreaded, “Netflix and chill,” anxiously awaiting their response. Only to be met with a “New phone, who dis?” you start to think maybe it’s time to expand your horizons.

But who has time to date? Amidst midterms and mental breakdowns, how’s a girl supposed to find someone worthy and willing to handle her mess? Exactly. And she’s too young to start online dating. And too funny. So there.

Cuffing Season usually runs from Labor day and continues through right before Valentine’s Day. So good news – you get about 6 months tops of this glorious season. After that you may have to actually fall in love, yikes.  That’s where real feelings become real conversations, which I am a huge proponent for. But if that’s not what you want right now, then please feel free to use this article as a reference for what you’re looking for during cuffing season. 

This is the time where most single men folks come to the realization that they do not want to be alone during the holiday season. They realize that they would like to have a cuddle buddy to either: Keep them warm as the weather gets colder (SEX) or to be a trophy to show off at family, career or friendly gatherings as a sign of maturity or growth. But this privilege isn’t just allotted to men (first time for everything I suppose). Women can also use cuffing season to avoid the uncomfortable “when are you going to settle down?” conversations with their peers or family. Look at that, something beneficial for both men and women? Equality is closer than we thought!

Regardless of you gender identity, when the snow starts to melt, so will all of the Stockholm syndrome feelings you created together after being bundled up for 3 months in their living room. You’ll crawl out of your cave and face reality. All you’ll be left with is a puddle of tears, every season of The Office under your belt and crappy Instagram filtered photos of you two that you’ll struggle to delete.

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My advice for coping with cuffing: do it. Or don’t. Only do things that make you feel valuable and respected. I personally like having a winter buddy who fills my heart and my hot cocoa cup, preferably with mostly Bailey’s.  If someone strikes your fancy, let them know you want to spend more time together. No one has ever been angry that someone finds them interesting. And if  you expressing your interest leads to a beautiful relationship, then mazel tov. If not, look at you for putting yourself out there and being vulnerable. That’s really hard to do and I applaud you for taking that step to love authentically. Plus, it’s going to be cold soon so you can nurse your broken heart in the warmth of your home for a couple of months, then emerge in the spring like the beautiful flower you are. Ready to take on the world and fill it with more love. Getting “cuffed up” doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of your life with that person, but we could all benefit from loving up on each other a little more. Connection is fun ya’ll, just make sure it’s something you actually want. 

Collegian Columnist Kendall McElhaney has never met a man bun she didn’t like. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @kendallaftrdark.