We're officially two weeks into October and you know what that means? Hot girl summer has come to a close and many of us are looking for a warm body to snuggle with as the chilly air of fall turns into winter's brutal downpour of snow, sleet, and hail.
This need for physical intimacy during the colder seasons is commonly known as "cuffing season" and believe it or not, there's science behind that.
"Cuffing season has happened in our evolutionary history every time the days get darker," Dr. Wendy Walsh, a clinical psychologist who specializes in the psychology of love, sex and gender roles, told MTV. "We're walking around in DNA that's hundreds of thousands of years old. In our anthropological past, there was less food and resources [available], and hunter-gatherers' survival happened better if you were in a pack, if you were coupled up... [This] increased survival of any offspring that came out of it."
Also, social psychologist Dr. Justin Lehmiller explains more via NPR's 1A podcast about why humans flock together during the cooler months from a biological standpoint. "There are seasonal changes in hormone levels, specifically testosterone. So in the winter, men have higher levels of testosterone and that could potentially play a role here," Dr. Lehmiller says. "There is less sun exposure so you have less production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which plays an important role in regulating mood. That's partly why we see the winter blues in some people, where they feel more depressed in the winter so we may have that biological factor there making people want to partner up because it's a way of combating that feeling of loneliness."
We also have to take into account the social pressure to have a significant other at this time.
The late fall and winter are times when we reconnect with our families and it's nearly inevitable if you're single that your parents or grandparents ask you invasive questions about your potentially non-existent dating life.
And we can't forget about how there are loads of holiday parties — I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel good to have someone to share a cliché kiss at midnight on New Year's Day. There's no doubt in my mind that social pressure plays a big factor as to why online dating sites are at their busiest between December 26 and February 14. Additionally, searches on Pornhub for “boyfriend," “girlfriend," “cuddle," and “couple" increase significantly during the fall and winter months.
So before you move forward with the scouting, drafting, tryouts, and pre-season, don't forget these tips for a successful cuffing season:
1. Know your status.
Make an appointment at your local clinic and get tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Even if you think you don't need to, keep in mind that most STIs show no symptoms so it's nearly impossible to be sure you don't have one unless you get tested. At-home tests are also available for some STIs, but they aren't always reliable so check with a doctor just in case.
2. Figure out your needs first.
Assess what you actually desire to achieve based on your personal needs. Do you only want sex or do you need some cuddle time as well? Do you want a fling that's as close to being in a full-blown relationship as possible or do you prefer to limit the time you spend together?
3. Use your common sense.
The winter months come at you fast so sometimes it's hard not to be eager to find someone, but don't let that eagerness make you fumble your chances. Unless you two are already on that level, don't start out texting them at 2 a.m. asking "wyd?"
4. Assemble your designated overnight bag.
This particular bag can be a purse, duffel bag, small backpack, etc. The key is to use it to store at least the top 5 items that you can't forget during your sexcapades. The following items may include, but are not limited to: breath mints, mouthwash, lube, condoms, hair tie, feminine cleansing wipes, emergency underwear, emergency cash, chapstick, etc.
5. Be prepared to reevaluate your relationship in time for spring break.
Having someone to cuddle up with may be nice for about 6 months when the weather practically forces you to stay inside anyway. However, by the time the spring season comes along, you may have to ask yourself whether all of this was just a short-term fling or something you hope will persist for even longer. You'll want to make sure your cuddle buddy is on the same page as well to avoid a tough breakup despite not being in an actual relationship.
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