The Ultimate Guide for Surviving Cuffing Season

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It’s getting colder, and snuggling by the fire with a cup of cocoa and a cute guy sounds like a slice of heaven–except if you’re single. The end of October brings about the dawn of cuffing season, where people start coupling up before the holidays.

It seems that no matter where you look you see couples embracing or walking hand-in-hand on the street. All of a sudden everyone you know has a significant other. And you start to sound snarky and jaded when people talk about their successful love lives.

We get it. Cuffing season can bring out a lot of emotions, which is why we called on several dating and relationship experts for your ultimate survival guide. Here’s how to deal with the single struggle as the weather cools off for good, and stakes begin to feel high in the game of love.

Know Your Relationship Goals

Know your relationship goals. If you’re single and happy right now, then spend your time focusing on your career or getting that Ph.D. Do not let cuffing season box you into the thought that you “need” a relationship. A change of seasons should not make a difference. Focus on you.

That said, don’t become a hermit. Get out there. “The holidays are a great time for self-reflection, but they can also bring up feelings of loneliness,” says clinical psychologist Andra Brosh, Ph.D. “Spending downtime doing self nurturing things is a great focus, but it’s not the best time to cut yourself off to the world. Balance is key.” Go to parties. Attend family get-togethers. Be single, not alone.

Stop Making Excuses

If you want a relationship, go for it. Remember that you have to date to find that. “I get that it’s cold and harder to motivate, but don’t use that as an excuse to not create what you really want to create in your life,” says Boston-based dating coach Neely Steinberg. “Keep your eye on what it is you want and push yourself to be active in your love life no matter what season it is.”

Don’t Wait for Something to Happen

Contrary to popular belief, most times, love does not just happen. Usually, someone has to actively create the opportunities and circumstances for relationships to blossom in their lives. Don’t be passive. “Dating is available 24 hours a day, especially with the popularity of online dating and mobile dating apps. I say, why wait?” says dating coach and netiquette expert Julie Spira. “You should always be open to the possibilities of finding a relationship and not worry about the fact that it’s cuffing season.”

Don’t Let Impending Holidays Cloud Good Judgment

Don’t latch onto a toxic guy (or stay in a dead-end relationship) because it’s easier than enduring the cold weather alone. “Many couples stay in relationships just so they can have someone for the holidays or with the expectation of getting a holiday gift,” Spira says, offering this check: “If you think you’d be happy with your date during the summer and without a big holiday involved, then you should feel comfortable starting a relationship around the holidays as well.” If you wouldn’t make it official in the spring or summer, don’t do it now.

Realize It’s About Happiness, Not the Relationship Itself

You may want to lock a guy in, but it’s better to be single and seeking happiness than miserable and trapped in a relationship that’s depriving you of positive energy. “Being in a relationship just to say you have a boyfriend won’t make you happy,” Spira says. “When you find a relationship where you bring the best out in each other, then it doesn’t matter what season it is.” Focus on your emotions within the relationship. If they’re negative, or simply uninspired, move on to better things.

Reflect on Your Needs

If you’re single, you can focus on your relationship life without rushing into one yourself. “Instead of allowing the holidays to make you feel lonely and demoralized, use them as opportunities to really reflect on what it is you are looking for in a partner and in a relationship. Reflect on your past dating history. Do you have any patterns? What are your real fears? What are your insecurities? Use the holidays purposefully instead of just drowning your sorrows in eggnog or PSLs,” Steinberg says. Watch other couples. Journal. Figure out the difference between wants and needs. Once you find out where you’re at, it will be much easier to invite the right someone into your life.

Get “Serious” Even if You’re Not Serious with Someone

Once you find out what you’re looking for, buckle down and go after it. “If you do tend to be more casual during the summer months, fall and winter is the time to really get serious,” Steinberg says. Even if you don’t meet someone right away, you’ll learn to recognize the signs of a guy who’d be good for you. “Maybe that means trying something you’ve never done or never thought you would do,” she says. Hire a matchmaker or a dating coach, or work with a therapist, or buy a self-help book, or say yes to more dates than you might normally.” Just step it up and put on your game face.

Be Spontaneous and Date Someone You’d Normally Dismiss

That being said, don’t suck the fun out of dating. Be open to the possibilities, even if they seem a bit far-fetched at first. You don’t need to think so far ahead anyway “Sometimes, if you’re on the fence, just date him,” Spira says. “Most relationships are temporary. Either couples get married or co-habitate eventually, or they break up. I believe you shouldn’t project too far into the future when you meet someone new. Be spontaneous and see where the relationship goes.” You might find that sweet artist-type that you thought would be totally wrong for your rugged sensibilities is actually a perfect fit. Dating is all about testing the waters.

Just remember: “Appearances are deceiving, and being single is a part of life not a social status,” Brosh says. “See being single as a transition, not a disease.” Amen.

Get Away from All the Dating Noise

If you’re figuring it out and need some space, ask your friends and family to tone down the relationship talk when you just can’t rehash it anymore. Sometimes, you need to do some solo soul searching. “It can be annoying to have family members squawk on and on about your love life,” Steinberg says. “If you want, send out a preemptive email or note to let your family members know that you are doing just fine, but that your dating and love life is off limits as far as a topic of conversation. That way, you will feel less anxiety going into the holidays and during family get togethers and will just be able to enjoy the moment more.” You’re single, you’re fabulous, and that’s it. #sorrynotsorry

Be Bold and Ask to Be Fixed Up

If all of your friends are couples, then guess what? Their husbands and boyfriends probably know some decent men. Ask your BFFs and coworkers to put some feelers out for you. “Do not put your head under the covers,” Spira says. “Ask all of your friends to fix you up.” That way, you have options if one avenue doesn’t pan out. Also, remember that people break up all the time. Spira says that nice, cute lawyer you met at your friend’s 4th of July party might have become single in several months’ time.

Rock the 5th Wheel with Pride

Tell your friends not to hide holiday parties and events from you just because you’re unattached. You are happy and comfortable rocking fifth-wheel status if other singles will be in attendance. I mean, you do know how to network.

Keep It Fun and Stay Positive

The right person is out there for you, and positivity is how you attract him. “Negativity and jadedness are toxic to your love life and affect how you come off to guys, so find ways to prevent that negative thinking from creeping into your brain,” Steinberg says. “Start practicing mindfulness, which means really being in the moment with your thoughts and sort of resisting the urge–when you are triggered by something or someone–to go with your destructive thoughts and instead go in a more positive, rational, compassionate direction with your thinking.”

Remember, Single or Cuffed, You’re Fabulous

If you remember one thing, know that everyone feels the same during cuffing season. “This is a really hard space for most people,” Brosh says. “Maintaining a fulfilling lifestyle, watching your negative thinking, and putting effort forward while letting grace do the rest is key!” If you’re single, anything can happen, which should make you excited instead of down. And ultimately, this season should not change who you are or the life you lead. Go forth and be fabulous.

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