Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Cuffing season in the age of COVID-19

Special Reports
January 01 2022 12:00 am

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- As temperatures lower, some people have the desire to “cuff” to someone over the holidays.

The term “Cuffing Season” has caught on over the years, and it runs from October to March.

“When I think of cuffing season, I think of when the weather cools down and you just wanna cuddle up in blankets, so I think it’s just a time you find someone you really like and hibernate for a little bit,” said Little Rock resident Dakory Lee.

While colder temps encourage snuggling and staying inside, holiday pressure plays a part.

“When you look at entertainment, social media, it’s just really taken off that I need to have somebody for Thanksgiving, Christmas & Valentine’s Day,” said licensed professional counselor Christina Allen.

Allen says especially around the holidays, people do not want to feel isolated, and developing relationships, even if just online, can help.

“Make relationships, because it is healthy for you. Mental health is necessary,” she added.

Some apps, like Bumble, have noticed an increase in people seeking out relationships around the holiday season.

“What we do see as we start entering this colder weather season is we definitely see our users more excited to find someone to cozy up with for the holidays,” said Bumble’s Vice President of Strategy & Operations Priti Joshi.

Bumble also saw an increase in users taking advantage of video chatting this year…a difference from its first release in 2019.

“We saw the use of that feature increase insanely.  From the week of March 13 when the pandemic was officially declared a national pandemic in the U.S. through the first week of May, we saw a 70% increase,” Joshi added.

And other dating apps experienced similar trends.

“We had a record-setting past few months, and it’s really due to the pandemic,” Match’s Chief Dating expert Rachel DeAlto said. “People are on more often. There’s an increase in messages. We actually had a 40% increase in messaging. So July was busier than Valentine’s Day.”

DeAlto says their typical spikes are Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day.

Match found the pandemic not only changed those spikes but also changed daters’ attitudes.

“58% of users have shifted toward intentional dating. 53% are actually looking for a relationship and having more meaningful conversations, and they’re being more honest with each other,” DeAlto noted.

A 2020 Match study, Singles in America, found users to be more careful about who and where they go on dates.

  • Two-thirds of singles say they are ready to go on an in-person date.
  • 36% say they will be more selective about who they go on a date with.
  • 23% will be selective about where they go on a date.

And it’s not just users on Match who share these sentiments.

  • Since March, more than two-thirds of Hinge users are thinking more about who they’re really looking for.
  • eHarmony reports nearly half (47%) of users are more interested in getting into a serious relationship due to the pandemic from their 2020 Cuffing Season survey
  • Plenty of Fish found 40% of male POF app users and 30% of female users want to take dating more seriously due to the pandemic in a 2020 May survey.

Other dating apps, like Hinge, saw spikes this year due to COVID-19 too.

  • Hinge saw a 30% increase in messages among users this past March.
  • There were 17% more dates this year in August compared to last year.
  • And 27% of users say they’re ghosting less during the pandemic.

Steamy stats:

  • Roommate romping: Match found nearly 1 in 4 singles (24%) had sex with a non-romantic roommate.
  • Breaking up 2020 style: Plenty of Fish found nearly 1/4 of Gen-Z have dumped someone during quarantine, and Gen-Z is twice as likely as any other generation to dump someone over Zoom (or other video chat).

Some singles searching for a partner could benefit from spikes on dating apps, but a spike in COVID-19 cases won’t be helpful.

One way to help better protect you before cozying up to a cuffing partner is honest conversation.

“I think it’s fair question to ask if you’ve been exposed to COVID or live with anyone or know someone who has been exposed recently,” says UAMS family medicine resident Dr. John Ukadike.

Ukadike says people should follow CDC guidelines and suggests planning dates outside.

Going on a walk, hike or stargazing are some fun outdoor ideas. If going out to eat, couples can try patio or outdoor seating and avoid crowded restaurants.

When it comes to mental health, Allen suggests going back to the basics. Call a friend, share a meal over video chat and don’t isolate yourself during an additionally stressful time this year.


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