How 8 Women Are Responding To The Pressures Of Cuffing Season

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With the colder weather and the holidays being right around the corner, the pressures of cuffing season might hit you anytime now, if it hasn't already. In fact, as Kate MacLean, relationship expert with Plenty of Fish, tells Bustle, 74% of singles say they feel lonely during this season, and 18% feel more pressure to have someone just so they can have a date during the holidays. It can definitely ruin the season for you.

As Erica Zajac, LCSW, therapist at Brooklyn Minds, tells Bustle, women tend to feel the pressures of the season most. "There's a lot of pressure from society and our families of origin surrounding where we are in life, and unfortunately women are put under a microscope," Zajac says. "There's still a lot of gender stereotyping."

While more people overall feel compelled to be in a relationship due to the colder weather, Zajac says many women feel like there's a "status" or "privilege" associated with being in a relationship. Getting asked the question, "Why are you single?" can make you feel like you're less than others who are coupled up. It's even worse during the holiday season when you're surrounded by family.

"The best thing I can recommend is to find healthy coping skills," Zajac says. If you're feeling pressure from others, it's OK to tell them to stop focusing on your relationship status and start focusing more on you as a person. If the pressure is internal, finding smalls ways to make you feel happy with yourself is key.

Here are some women on how they deal with the pressures of cuffing season besides finding a new partner.

1. Stephanie, 29

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"Being single during cuffing season is an opportunity for me to consciously define love and its source. I view others as being catalysts for loving feelings that ultimately reside within us. If I feel lonely, I remind myself that being single is more worthwhile than being in a relationship that keeps either one of us from realizing our potential. Staying focused on what lights me up, treating myself to self-care dates like massages or nice meals helps me stay grounded and in an abundance mindset. Love is always within me, and relationships can be enjoyed year-round, with cuffing season as a particularly cozy time to devote time and energy to whatever lights me up. Date invitations will come, sometimes in spurts, and I take responsibility for my level of happiness and openness in the process."

2. Allyson, 37

"Honestly, it's not often that I even think about cuffing season. I'm a homeschooling mom to twin boys plus a budding wellness entrepreneur, so I'm really busy. However, I'm still human, and I have those occasional moments during the holidays where I want to be cuddled up with someone special, drinking hot chocolate, and watching my favorite sci-fi. When I start to feel that way, I'll usually plan a very special self-care night. I like to get fresh rose petals and take a relaxing bath with my favorite crystals (amethyst, citrine, and rose quartz) around the tub while listening to unwinding music. When I'm done and not too tired, I like to journal and reflect on where I am in my life and remind myself that I'm beautiful and worthy of the 'right' kind of love. Another thing I like to do is go out with girlfriends. I don't get out often but there's something about getting dressed up and dancing the night away with my bestie that always helps take my mind off of things."

3. Holly, 40

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"For me, the idea of cuffing season has never been an issue and I've never felt pressured by it. If you're single but looking for a partner, you should be open to that regardless of the season. When you try to force relationships, even if they are temporary, you're not only playing with other people's emotions, but also setting yourself up for a potentially bad situation. It's not good energy in general. So being single during cuffing season has never made me feel any different than being single in the 'off-season.' But with the days getting shorter and colder, combined with the sentimental feelings and added pressure people feel around the holiday, I can understand why some may feel the need to seek out a partner. I'd save myself some time, stress, and money by getting a weighted blanket."

4. Jackie, 28

"My feelings about cuffing season truly come and go in waves. There are times when I feel so, SO happy to be unattached this time of year — no fretting over what to get him for the holidays and all that. Dating can be fun and it's nice to not be 'cuffed' or obligated to just one person. Of course, there are times I'm at home on a Tuesday night, wine in hand, cat by my side, sitting in bed with my Netflix queue up, and I'm like, 'Jeez, it'd be nice to have a human cuddle buddy at times like this!' I try and remind myself that this time of year is about spending more time with friends and family. While my grandma will inevitably ask if I'm dating anyone as we dig into the Christmas ham, I'll happily tell her I'm focusing on doing things for myself like learning French and playing the keyboard. Of course, when the cold winter nights hit (and they sure do here in Montana) I can always book a trip to a warmer climate where I won't feel the pressures of cuffing season."

5. Lorrae, 29

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"It can definitely be tempting to want to find someone reliable to spend some secluded indoor time with. In our culture, that often means falling into a comfortable relationship. However, just because you’re feeling lonely or wanting some extra TLC during the colder season, that doesn’t mean you necessarily want the emotional work and commitment of a relationship, or that you should start spending time with a partner who isn’t really right for you, just to fill a void. I find it best to fill my time with friends and hobbies I enjoy."

6. Nikki, 24

"I got out of a four and a half year relationship about eight months ago and have used this time to really focus on myself. I honestly have no feelings toward cuffing season. I think it’s one of those things that people put pressure on themselves to do, and it kind of sets you up for failure in the relationship. If the relationship works out, that's great. One of the questions I get all of the time from friends and family is, 'Are you dating?' and I always answer with, 'Yeah — me, myself, and I.' I’ve dealt with the struggle of being single by doing yoga and fun things with my friends. Fostering friendships is going to make you feel a lot more whole at the end of the day than someone you're using to fill a void."

7. Phaedrah, 25

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"Cuffing season is daunting. I live in New England and when summer is over there’s less to do, and fewer activities that are fun whether you're single or taken. I tend to get annoyed with friends who get in serious relationships, particularly if they were my party partners all summer. When cuffing season rolls around, they're only able to do things in couples. I cope by hosting my own events and making sure to invite people of all kinds of relationship statuses. I'll also pick one thing I’ve always wanted to do, and do it alone. You’d be surprised by how many people try to adopt you when you're out by yourself. But I think the real key to this time of year is acknowledging, realizing, and appreciating that you are loved. Perhaps not romantically, but by family members, supportive friends, your food-dependent pet, and yourself."

8. Reka, 36

"I'm a goal-getter. I never wait until the ball drops to make my resolutions. I'm always asking myself every three to six months 'Where do I want to be?' which means I'm constantly growing and moving. So when I get the dreaded, 'Why are you single?' question I can answer with, 'My husband will come when he comes. In the meantime I'm working on getting scholarships so I can go back to school.' They will then shift their questions to focus on what I am doing instead of what I'm not doing (i.e. dating). They may also be able to help me with 'said scholarship,' which then that conversation turns into a networking opportunity for me. #Winning."

The pressure to find a partner during this time of year can get to you. But you don't have to be in a relationship to feel happy and loved. As these women have discovered, practicing self-care, spending time with friends, and loving yourself are just some ways to deal with the pressure of the season.

Experts:

Kate MacLean, relationship expert with Plenty of Fish

Erica Zajac, LCSW, therapist at Brooklyn Minds