As soon as Halloween has passed and the half-price candy is gone, another season starts to loom large — and I’m not talking about Christmas. As soon as we reach November, it’s official: cuffing season is really here. Cuffing season runs from fall right through into the early days of spring, but once the weather turns cold and people are starting to think about the holidays is when cuffing season really starts to descend.

If you’re not familiar, cuffing season is basically the magical time of year where everyone grabs whoever is closest to them and tries to settle down — at least through the winter. The nights are cold, Game of Thrones is almost back, and the holidays can be easier when you have someone to vent to and cuddle up with. It seems tempting — but the truth is, you should try to resist. Cuffing season is just code for settling down with someone lackluster for a few months — and sometimes those few months can turn into something much longer, leaving you in a shitty relationship you shouldn’t have been in in the first place.


In the long run, it's better to avoid cuffing season and focus on things that will make you feel good long after spring arrives. So, if you find these winter nights hard, here’s how you can avoid cuffing season.

1. Know the difference between cuffing and actually meeting someone

Just because you should avoid cuffing season, doesn't’ mean you need to stop dating for months out of the year. Instead, you just need to know the difference between dating and cuffing. Going on dates and meeting someone you like is great. Having great sex for sex’s sake is also great. But cuffing isn’t either of these things. It’s settling for someone you don’t really like or aren’t compatible with, just so you have someone to snuggle with and kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve — all the while finding them a little irritating or lackluster and planning on dumping them as soon as you have the energy. That’s what you want to avoid.

 

2. Keep your calendar full 

Whether you want to focus on dating, sex, or neither, one way to avoid cuffing season is to keep your calendar busy. Boredom and loneliness are basically incubators for bad relationship choices, so make sure that you’re doing things that make you happy. Maybe that means seeing your fuck buddy, maybe it means going on dates, or maybe it just means tasting menus with your friends, hitting the gym, or getting the most out of your local independent movie theater. Keeping yourself busy with other things will keep those f*ckboys from looking too appealing.

3. Make holiday plans that don't require a date 

There is so much pressure around the holidays — especially when it comes to your love life. From nosy Aunt Kathy asking prying questions to one thousand holiday events you’re supposed to bring a plus one to, all the way through the ball drop, the holidays can feel like a minefield for single people. But rather than getting caught up in all of the couple-centric nightmares, try to forge your own path. Make plans with other single friends, with your family, and try avoiding places where you feel like you need a +1 (which you should never need anyway). There’s no point in putting yourselves in awkward situations that are going to make you feel like you should settle down, so don't be afraid to forge your own path.

 

4. Delete dangerous numbers 

Finally, if you have a regular go-to — or a few regular go-to's — in your phone who you’re worried that you might be tempted to cuff with, don't be afraid to delete their numbers, unfollow them on social media, or do whatever you need to do. It’s so much easier to give into cuffing season when you have a potential cuffing partner just a few taps away. Don’t think about rational you, think about the horny you that comes out after three glasses of mulled wine — she’s the person you need to protect. 

5. Focus on self-care (and *self-exploration*) 

The heart can make us do some really dumb things — but the vagina can make as act like total freaking assholes. Rather than letting horniness take hold and cloud your brain and your judgment, make sure that you’re getting in enough time for yourself. Treat yourself to a new vibe, try a new kind of porn, or just schedule in way more alone time than you’re used to. If you’re keeping yourself satisfied, you’re less likely to do something silly in a total fog of horniness. (Trust me, I’ve been there.)

Cuffing season is definitely in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you need to give in. Instead, focus on good choices — and things that will still feel good come springtime. Maybe that means finding a great f*ckbuddy, maybe it means upping your weekly masturbation sessions, or maybe you need to take some steps to save you for yourself. Just remember, you’re worth so much more than settling — even if it is just for the winter.