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Cuffing Season Explained: Here's When (and What) It Actually Is

As the weather turns cooler, daters tend to pair up. Here's what you need to know about cuffing season.

Singles are looking to pair up for the colder months.
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Traditionally, fall brings crisp leaves, woolly sweaters and the usual blitz from the pumpkin spice industrial complex. In the dating world, it also marks the beginning of cuffing season. Cuffing season is like musical chairs, except the last one without a partner when the music stops has to explain to their nosy aunt over the holidays why they're still single. 

Unlike the summer, when more daters seem to be interested in keeping their relationships casual, cuffing season is when they pair up and hunker down, like bears with access to Netflix and DoorDash. 

Here's a full rundown on cuffing season. 

What is cuffing season?

Cuffing season starts around October and runs through Valentine's Day. It's a time when daters look for a steady relationship -- a reliable partner for the cold weather. 

When is cuffing season?

Cuffing season is usually pinned to the fall and winter, typically starting in October and running through Valentine's Day. For 2022, OkCupid looked at its data and is predicting a later start, on Nov. 6. The dating platform is anticipating the biggest spikes in matching happening between Halloween and Thanksgiving, with a 25% jump in matches at the peak.

Wait, is cuffing season real?

Yep. Dating apps confirm they see an uptick around the beginning of fall. Data from OkCupid prepandemic showed a modest boost in daters who said they were looking for a relationship "for the rest of [their] life" as the seasons changed. In 2021, daters sent the most messages on Bumble between October and early November, a Bumble representative said via email.

Where did the phrase come from?

Merriam-Webster dug into the origins of the phrase and found the earliest references to cuffing season in print coming from college newspapers in 2011. The dictionary also attributed the term cuffing as coming from the Black community online prior to 2011, and also noted the 2013 song Cuffin Season by rapper Fabolous. As for the cuffing part, Merriam-Webster also noted it's a reference to handcuffs.

OK, how do I get in on cuffing season?

Love Syncs can't play wingwoman for you, but if you're interested in refreshing your dating app profile, here are some guides, including how to write your bio, pick out photos and even how to ask your date if they've been vaccinated. Plus, an answer to the age-old question: Why are there so many guys holding fish in their profiles?

CNET's Love Syncs is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you've got a question about finding love via app, send it to erin.carson@cnet.com for consideration.