Winter is far more than 80 denier, telly specials and Greggs' Festive Bake – it's the season responsible for causing millions of single people across the world to lower their romantic standards. We're talking about Cuffing Season (often abbreviated to Cuffin'), as the practice of embarking on a relationship when the cold weather sets in, only to break it off come spring.
The Urban Dictionary claims that it's the 'people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous' that partake, rather than those of us actually interested in finding long-term love. Life coach Lucy Sheridan points the finger of blame at the season's social extremes of cosy nights in and festive parties.
"Winter is all about togetherness and sharing time with the people we love, whether that's cooking comfort food together or the endless nights out," she says. "Those of us that have negative feelings about our relationship status tend to go into overdrive around this time of year and desperation kicks in."
The phenomenon is not necessarily a new one, but experts are suggesting the rise of social media has caused the behaviour to soar. "The 'filter factor' of Facebook, Instagram etc pushes the perception that everyone is in loving, happy, hot relationships. Faced with the showreel of couple selfies, which single person wouldn't feel the odd tinge of jealousy and isolation?" adds Lucy.
Given that we've already spotted #cuffingseason trending on Twitter this month, it looks like people are also happier to 'out' their willingness to give it a go. 29-year-old Jo Murray can definitely see the benefits - the media sales exec split up with her long-term partner earlier this year and is open about her pro-cuffing standpoint.
"Nobody wants to be alone over Christmas and New Year, especially when you're used to spending it as one half of a couple," she says. "I want someone to spend hangover Sundays with and if I get a few more Christmas presents out of it, why not? Plus, you never know if it could turn into something more."
But when is cuffing not cool? For life coach Lucy, dropping your standards too low just to have a boxset marathon partner with could be potentially damaging to your self-esteem.
"Going out with someone simply for the functions of a relationship, rather than because you feel a genuine connection, could leave you feeling worse when it ends – you're essentially admitting that you don't deserve a full relationship and setting yourself up for confidence issues. Cuffing also makes you focus on what you don't have, rather than spending those four months enjoying what you do have."
For Marianne Davies, 24 from Surrey, it's when you're not aware the cuffing is one-sided. The fashion buyer saw real potential in her new relationship this time last year, but it turned out her boyfriend was just looking for a short-term filler, and dumped her just before Valentine's Day.
"I had no idea Cuffing Season was even a thing. We had such a nice few months but he was never in it for the right reasons. I was gutted and won't ever get with a new guy in winter again – I'd rather spend it with my mates."
Sacking #cuffingseason off in favour of fun times with your friends and focusing on yourself for once? That's not a bad idea...
More:Sex & Relationships
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