Winter. The heating is up, the thermals are on and, somewhere in between, the wind has blown Tinder back onto your phone.
If you’ve recently become magnetically attracted to swiping right then you’re not alone, ‘cuffing season’ refers to the sudden desire to couple up during the festive period, as dark evenings and the stress of Christmas propel single people into the dating game. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, cuffing season relationships are notorious for ending in spring, so it’s important to sharpen your fuckboy spotting skills if you’re looking for something longer term.
It’s important to note that, despite the name, fuckboys can be any gender. These characteristics can be applied to anyone, but if you think they align with your new partner, it might be a sign to shop for a new one in the Boxing Day sales.
The first red flag is when your partner fluctuates between extremes of affection and absence. One week your company is a daily ritual but for the next seven days they’re too busy in Bar Blanc to reply your Snapchat. Sometimes when you’re together it’s a romantic stock photo and other times you’re dragging them through date night as if it’s a chore, ready to cancel your plans as soon as they get a better offer for a Friday night – we forget that if someone truly likes you then they’ll be consistent.
On that note, it’s always notable when someone routinely takes twelve years to respond to a text or leaves you on read despite being active all day on Facebook. It’s usually the same culprit who excuses themselves with ‘I never go on my phone’ even though they’re always on it when you’re together. Obviously technology breaks are important and it’s always refreshing when someone is actively reducing their screen time, but that’s not synonymous with exclusively communicating after three pints at 11pm to ask if ‘u up?’
Not all relationships start this way though – when you’re seeing someone regularly and communicating most days, you have to watch out for more subtle warning signs. Nowadays dating is a minefield: you’re not official you’re exclusive, you’re not dating you’re seeing each other, you can’t meet their family but you can follow them on Instagram, and due to this culture of commitment phobia, it’s natural that people want to take it slow. But it’s important to know when to draw the line.
If someone consistently maintains that they ‘don’t like labels’ and makes you feel keen or needy for asking about the nature of your relationship, it makes you question whether they see a future with you. This often also materialises in not integrating you into their friendship group or ensuring you don’t bump into their flatmates on your way to the bathroom. Maybe you don’t want anything serious either, but if you do then these behaviours suggest that they’re not keen on commitment.
You also have to keep an eye on the content of your time together. You can tell someone’s not a keeper if you leave your dates feeling deflated; often this takes the form of mild insults that creep beyond the boundaries of banter, but not enough to call them out on it, dwelling on your insecurities or comparing you to their previous partners. I once dated a boy who would compare my appearance to random girls we’d see in town, creating unnecessary competition between me and strangers.
It’s easy for these moments to get buried under the excitement of a whirlwind romance but midnight messages and the occasional nice date isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. It’s nice wandering past the Fenwick’s window with a mulled wine in one hand and your new partner in the other, but try not to let the bright lights of cuffing season blind you. After all, it’s better to be on your own than with someone inconsistent and undermining. And with Christmas creeping round the corner, you’ll still have the spark from the figgy pudding to keep you warm.
Last modified: 29th November 2019