Although Cuffing Season has been in full swing since the beginning of August by some measures, don’t worry if you’re behind the curve! If there’s one thing that college students are good at, it’s waiting until the last minute.
That said, we’d like to offer some pro-tips for the season.
1. First and foremost, make sure you want to be cuffed.
No matter your motivation — a seasonal sex drought, a need to silence your annoying family members over the holidays or a simple desire to conform to evangelical heteronormative monogamy — make sure you’re doing it for yourself. Cuffing Season can be arduous, full of highs and lows, affirmed and unrequited love, and, most importantly, full and empty bank accounts.
2. The search
Enable discovery on Tinder, log on to Grindr, polish your Her profile or browse Bumble and let everyone know you’re available. However, you've now determined that you're not just looking for hookups — this is cuffing season, and your online profile can say a lot about your intentions. Make sure one of your pictures has your face in it. Update your bio, and be sure to include your hobbies, quirks and maybe a hint that you’re looking for serious dates. Something subtle.
3. Embrace the meet-cute
We live in a digital age, but some romantics hold on to the hope that our lives can be just like a Nicholas Sparks novel. Don’t be misled, though: meet-cutes aren’t as magical as they may seem, and sometimes you have to make them happen. Accidentally brush shoulders with your love interest when you walk past them on campus, maybe offer them a meal swipe or ask them if they have the notes for that class that you’re definitely not taking. If you’re feeling bold, purposefully drop all of your books right in front of them, grab the same book, lock eyes with them, hold that eye contact and gently flash a soft smile.
4. Dates: location, location, location
You can do better than “Netflix and Chill” for a Cuffing Season first date. If you’re really looking to be cuffed, you’re looking for something substantial. Take them out to dinner, invite them to your ugly sweater party or surprise them with their favorite coffee. Be romantic, and don’t be afraid to be aggressively basic.
5. Get ready for feelings
You know what we mean. Not only are you most vulnerable to catch feels during cuffing season, you’re actively pursuing them, so make sure you’re ready to navigate that conversation with your partner when it happens.
6. Friends and boundaries
This involves two key parts: 1. If they call you “buddy” or “pal”, or have the audacity to tell you what a good “friend” you are, get the heck out of there. You don’t need any more friends, you’re trying to get boo’d up. 2. Don’t violate the boundaries you already have. Cuffing season can make you desperate, but leave your friends out of your thirst trap.
7. No snakes in the garden
It’s no coincidence that Halloween happens during Cuffing Season, because the ghosts from your past will start haunting you left and right. Your exes know you and they probably know that you’re still single, but you cut them off for a reason — do not engage. The only thing worse than being cuddled up next to your pillow all winter is being cuddled up next to a snake.
8. Shoot your shot
There’s less than a week until LDOC, and all of your potential baes will be long gone for winter break by Dec. 15. Now is not the time to be shy, so shoot your shot. It’s like the end of summer camp, so all bets are off. Let that special someone know you’ve had your eye on them. There’s almost nothing to lose.
9. Cuff and be cuffed
One of Cuffing Season’s best qualities is that it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t judge you based on your relationship history, gender, sexuality, et cetera. It’s a time when all can search for, and be found by, someone special. While you're out trying to find a boo, recognize that a boo might be trying to find you, too.
10. Cuff consensually
While Cuffing Season is a somewhat ambiguous phenomenon that is open to interpretation, there is one thing that it distinctly is not — it is not an excuse to instigate interpersonal harm. A lot of the language and features of Cuffing Season have the potential to be gendered, or suggestive of violence. “Cuffing” itself is inherently so. However, we have the capacity to control the narrative. With all of the above recommendations, keep the grounding principles of mutual respect at the forefront of your mind. Do not harass someone who has not reciprocated interest, and have the decency to bow out if you shoot your shot and miss.
Cuffing season isn’t for everyone. For those of you who put yourselves out there, we applaud you, and want to let you know that there is a Sam Smith album waiting for you if things don’t work out.
So get to swiping, get to a coffee shop and get yourself a boo thang.
Happy Cuffing Season, Tar Heels.