No Shame Sex Ed

Does COVID Cancel Cuffing Season?

Do the benefits of dating outweigh the risks?

by Lauren Tegtmeyer

Cuffing season is the most wonderful time of the year: all the rushing past red flags and smushing bodies until the sun finally rises again in February. OK, so maybe it’s not the most wonderful time for good relationships and emotional habits, but it is a staple of the dating cycle — along with summer flings and spring weddings.

Now that there’s a vaccine on the horizon but four months of winter to get through first, cuffing season is looking more appealing than ever. The question is: is it safe to find a short-term beau this season? Iman Hariri-Kia, Bustle's sex and relationships editor and the illustrious host of No Shame Sex Ed, chatted with two experts — Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family provider and One Medical regional director, and Emily Depasse, a sexologist who specializes in STI stigma — to discuss the risks and benefits of settling down with a short-term partner in a pandemic.

Everything Comes With Risks

In a pandemic, the only safe activity is virtual activity. No in-person hang — whether it's outside with masks on or maskless in a bar — is truly "safe."

Emotional Risks Are Dangerous Too

Your desire to have consistent, partnered sex this winter may blind you to the red flags firmly planted in your cuffing partner. Is the sex worth the possible emotional distress in February?

It's About More Than Just You

Your risk profile is more than just your social activities and PPE habits. It also includes your roommate's social habits and your roommate's boyfriend's social habits (ew) and your roommate's boyfriend's mom's social habits (OK, Karen).

It's All Up To Communication

When it comes to cuffing in COVID, there are a lot of risks and there are a lot of benefits. You and your potential partner need to communicate and determine if you are comfortable with each other's risks before you get down to any in-person activity, especially s-e-x.

No Shame Sex Ed is an inclusive, sex-positive series that talks to the experts in order to give you real ways to explore and improve your sexual experiences.

Host: Iman Hariri-Kia

Expert: Dr. Natasha Bhuyan

Expert: Emily Depasse

Executive Creative Director: Lauren Sofair

Executive Producer: Whitney Buxton

Producer: Lauren Tegtmeyer

Director of Photography: Marshall Stief

Camera Operator: Jasmine Velez

Design Director: Andenew Ayele

Motion Designer: Jeff Donlan

Editor: Nolan Thomas