Christmas adverts seem to start earlier and earlier these days, don’t they? There’s nothing like a depressed bear guilt-tripping you into buying a kettle to set in the panic of being all alone this winter. Soon the Coca Cola advert will be on – the only time when the less tolerant members of our society forget their usual anxieties of seeing a foreign man arrive on the back of a lorry – and fat, jolly Santa will be making you feel bad that you don’t have anyone to share a hungover diet coke with on Crimbo morning. It’s something you never thought you’d feel sad about until that overweight bastard showed up and all of a sudden “holidays are coming” sounds like a much more sinister mantra.
According to Urban Dictionary, it starts the day after Halloween and ends the day after Valentine’s Day. (November 1st to February 15th).It’s no surprise, then, to find that singletons pick up temporary partners for the winter period. It’s even got a name: cuffing. And if the definition is anything to go by, it doesn’t sound cosy like Christmas morning:
“When done with ulterior motives, it’s the time women trick desperate men with romantic inclinations to get gifts and guys ‘date down’ to get gifts from desperate, grateful low hanging fruit.”
Or, more nicely put:
“During the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be “Cuffed” or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”
I’m not sure of the origins of cuffing, but it doesn’t feel overtly positive, does it? Cuffing – like, handcuffed. Like handcuffed to each other for the cold months. Or maybe handcuffed to someone’s radiator like in the Saw movies – their emotional radiator, a winter prisoner, only to be set free once the first lamb cries.
Anyway, you could either be the cuffer or the cuffee – so if you’re thinking “nah, not me,” cuddling closer on the loveseat in your matching jim-jams with your new beau, it’s possible that your girlfriend is fully aware of cuffing season, and she’s cuffed you right up. Here’s how to tell if you’re just her winter boyfriend.
There’s some obvious damage control going on
It’s mid-September and you’re in a club. She comes up to you with some formulaic conversation. She’s laughing at that joke you saw on LadBible earlier in the day. “I can’t believe she finds that funny!” you think. She doesn’t find it funny, trust me. She’s looked at the clock on her phone at least three times already and you’ve only been talking for five minutes. You’re in the middle of telling her about your mate who looks exactly like Jamie Vardy when she throws her head back laughing and says “Oh my god, is that the time? My friends are probably waiting for me! Could you put your number in my phone? I’d love to hear the end of that James Hardy story!” She means Jamie Vardy. “You mean Jamie Vardy!” you say, smiling. “Yep. Just put it in there,” she retorts, tapping her phone screen impatiently over your shoulder as you hurry to put the number in. “Thank you!” She squeals, running off to find her mates.
Or so you thought. You’re at the bar ordering another round, when you notice that she hasn’t, in fact, left at all. She’s making her way round the bar, collecting the digits of dudes with more gusto and momentum than the head of a university debate society trying to get signatures at a Fresher’s Fair. This gal’s got premium insurance when it comes to her cuff for the winter.
She always wants to do a “Cheese Night”
In the lead up to Christmas, all girls want to do is eat cheese and drink wine with their slippers on. I would know – I am one, and I do this all the time. My boyfriend limits me to three cheese nights per winter period. Actual boyfriends get to impinge on how many cheese nights you’re allowed over the festive period, but you can’t.
See, you’re the temp, which means you don’t get a say. You’re in that stage where everything the other one does is adorable, even managing to eat a whole Boursin before the breadsticks have been brought out. These nights always end with some kind of board game, like Rapidough. And not sexy Rapidough either, where every misjudged doughy creation ends with you naked and cheese in every crevasse. No, you’re there purely to fulfill the needs of a two-year relationship in the space of 6 weeks, like scoffing cheese, playing board games and – of course – acting surprised when her favourite act goes home on X Factor.
She’s suddenly responding to your text messages
Didn’t you think it was weird that she just replied “Hahaha” to a message you sent ten months ago?
She’s using you for your fireplace
Oh dear. You’ve just uploaded a pic of your pooch in front of the fireplace in your living room to Instagram and the ladies have come a-flocking huh? Three heart-eye emojis, right? Telling you you’re dog is cute and oh, pray tell, what breed is he, right? They couldn’t give a flying f*ck if Charlie’s a Cockapoo, dear friend. It’s prime Instagram fodder. Right now all she’s got to work with is ‘Fireplace For Your Home’ on Netflix, and it’s simply not cutting the mustard.
You’re basically a walking coat hanger
You’ve braved the cold for a night out. She’s wearing a dress. You tell her “Babe, it’s a bit chilly out.” You ask if she wants a coat. She does not want a coat. This is a sign that you need to put a couple of extra layers on. See, as soon as she gets outside, she’s going to want a coat. And she’s going to get one. Only, it’s going to be yours. So layer up lads, because waiting for a taxi at 4am in January in a Topman tee is no picnic.
Any talk about the future is off the table
If you so much as utter the words “Antigua in June is supposed to be lovely,” you’ll be met with stone-cold silence. It’ll feel like it’s got a lot colder, but it hasn’t – that’s just all your muscles seizing up at the awkward length of her pause, before she smiles awkwardly and ushers you into wrapping all her mum’s Christmas presents a bit quicker.
When March comes around she’s gone
Picture this: you’re taking one of your walks in the woods. She’s way over there, looking through the myriad of photos you just took of her when the sun was hitting just right. You lean in. Lean in a bit closer. Because there they are – sprouting forth from the ground. “Daffodils,” you shout over. “What?” She calls back. “Daffodils!” You say, more excited this time. “Spring’s on its way my lo…” But when you turn around she’s gone, running so fast that there’s an actual cloud left behind that fits her shape, just like in the cartoons. Of course this is the real test of whether you were actually a winter boyfriend – when all you can hear, there in the woodlands, is the echo through the dense forest that she’ll leave your PlayStation outside the front door.