The leaves are on the ground, your winter coat has made a return, and you have inexplicably found yourself embedded in a rather serious adult relationship.
A month ago you were perfectly happy in singledom, but suddenly you find yourself settled-down and feeling mushy. And just in time for cuffing season.
For the uninitiated, cuffing season (short for handcuffing) is when people find themselves with a strong desire to be part of a monogamous couple, a partner to hibernate with for winter.
Sarah Ryan, dating and relationships expert, tells HuffPost UK: “Some describe it as a season that lasts from September to February but I can almost guarantee it is for as long as Starbucks have their pumpkin spiced latte up for grabs.”
So how can you tell if the timing of your new-found romance is just coincidence, or you’re actually a prime example of cuffing in action? Here are six signs it’s probably more seasonal than long-term love.
1. You rate your partner for their body heat.
We all know how expensive heating bills can be, so it makes sense to have a partner whose body heat you can steal, right? Even scientists say we are evolutionary disposed to seek out a mate who can provide us with warmth when it is physically cold.
Although it makes sense, it’s probably not a good sign that you value your partner for having the same qualities as a radiator...
2. You are glad they give you a reason to stay in.
No one wants to go outside when it is dark and there is frost on the ground. But how often are you using your partner as an excuse for cancelling on social plans you never wanted to go to?
If you find you’re just keeping them around as a someone to watch Netflix with rather than actually enjoying their company, then it sounds like you’re only in it for the winter months.
3. You had ‘find a partner’ on your mental checklist for 2017.
We know January seems like a lifetime ago, but Sarah Ryan says if you recall having ‘find a partner’ on your to-do list, this could be a sign you’re cuffing.
She says: “Autumn brings around a back-to-school mentality where we take stock of what we have achieved in the year and if you are that person who said they wanted to meet someone romantically and haven’t, chances are you will build more momentum than ever trying to find your match.”
4. You feel burned out from a summer of dating.
If you are feeling exhausted by dating all summer, there is every chance you want to shack up just to give yourself a rest. And who can blame you after all that swiping? But just be warned, you’re not likely to feel tired forever.
5. You don’t imagine yourself staying with them beyond spring.
We’re not saying you need to have a five-year-plan in order to qualify as real love, but if you’ve already got a sneaking suspicion that you’ll be single again by next summer, then let’s be honest, this is probably a short term arrangement.