By now, we all know what Covid is, but how about “cuffing season”? In popular culture, it’s a term used to refer to the winter months when many people find themselves longing for someone to snuggle with by the fire, kiss under the mistletoe or on New Year’s Eve, and generally spend time with during those cold, dark, and dreary winter months. The difference between cuffing and a real relationship is that one or both people wouldn’t be with each other if the weather were warmer, and they had something better to do with someone they liked more. Those looking for relationships aren’t the only ones susceptible to cuffing season. People who are generally content with being single during the warmer months also cuff. The cold(er) weather can cause even the most independent people to feel lonely and desperate for companionship, even if they typically wouldn’t want that much of it. In 2020 (of course), it’s different. For starters, it’s unclear how many people who should’ve uncuffed after last winter did. For the folks first catching onto the phenomenon and desperately looking for that semi-special someone to pick apples and sip their pumpkin spice lattes with, cuffing season has only begun to rear its ugly head, for them, and as a matchmaker, me. Except for this year, there’s another incentive for people to cuff or stay that way: COVID. Because of the pandemic, the way people date has changed. Yes, it can feel more difficult, but that doesn’t mean dating has become impossible or necessarily worse. Sometimes, different can be better, and there are definite advantages to dating during this time. So even if you feel inclined to stay with someone who you wouldn’t during “normal times,” or during a so-called regular cuffing season, you shouldn’t now, just because of the appearance of COVID. In other words, COVID (and anything else going on in the world) should never present an additional reason to justify cuffing to someone you like only enough. Ask yourself these questions instead. If times were good, would I still be with this person? Suppose you were already considering leaving your partner, and then boom, the pandemic hit, so you decided to stay. Was that decision because you came to realize on your terms that you want to be with your partner, or was your motivation purely external, i.e., the pandemic? If your answer is “the pandemic made me do it,” then you may want to consider whether the relationship you’re in is worth you spending another season, albeit cuffing season, in it. Am I in my relationship out of loneliness or boredom? Part of being in a healthy relationship is knowing what you’re looking to get from it. Do you want something serious? Casual? Something in specific, like companionship or marriage and children? If, after some self-reflection, you find that you’re in your relationship because you’re merely afraid of being alone, or because you’re bored, it would probably be in your best interest (as well as your partner’s, who will likely end up with a broken heart regardless of whether you stay or go) to take some time for yourself and learn to be your own person before committing to a relationship again. Cuffing isn’t fair to the person you’ve cuffed yourself to or you. Have I taken the time to work on myself and evaluate my priorities? Despite what the holiday Hallmark movies may tell you, being single during the holiday season isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. The holidays can present fantastic opportunities to meet new people and get to know others better in your professional and social circles. These situations can expand your interests — and horizons. They can also be a time to evaluate your priorities and work on any issues you believe are holding you back. Any time of year is, so why not now? Am I willing to overcome my fear of being single for a while in exchange for the opportunity to find a more fulfilling relationship? Seriously, being unpartnered during the holiday season isn’t the end of the world. But staying in a relationship that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and, in extreme situations, unhappy is a colossal waste of your time. By uncuffing yourself from a relationship that doesn’t bring you happiness as it should, you can re-evaluate who you are without this person in your life, including what you like to do in your free time, with whom, and where you see yourself one day. Even though we’re in the throes of a pandemic, there are still many occasions to meet like-mind singles. You may have to seek those opportunities out a little more now in addition to making adjustments to how you dated in the past, but it’s important to remember there can still be love in your future if you take steps toward it. That begins with being in a frame of mind and position where you can find love — whether outside of a relationship or in one. Reprinted by Permission from Innovative-Match, a full-service relationship coaching firm. (www.innovative-match.com) Do you have a question as it pertains to dating during or post breakup or divorce? Ask us HERE.