How To Know If You're Falling In Love — Or If Cuffing Season Has You Fooled

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What Is Cuffing Season? How These Relationships Begin And End

It's the most wonderful time of the year... kind of.

The leaves are starting to fall. Every time you leave your house, you find yourself wishing you were wearing one more layer of clothes. You've developed an inexplicable desire to wearing oversized flannel and to put any edible item described with the words "pumpkin spice" inside of your body as quickly as possible. Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, and you're re-watching movies like Autumn in New York while sighing even more wistfully than usual.

All of this can mean but one thing, and one thing only...

That's right, Y'all. It's officially Fall, and cuffing season has well and truly arrived in full effect.

Even if you don't know what that means at first glance, I guarantee it is something you've experienced. You just didn't know there was an official name for it.

Now, before we go any further let me reassure you: the phenomenon in question has zero to do with clothing. I swear to you it's completely non-sartorial in nature, and you can believe me when I say this because as I write this very article I am wearing a pink terry-cloth cardigan and plaid boxers, i.e., if ever a person was less qualified to talk about fashion than anything else, hi, it's me.

RELATED: How Your Zodiac Sign Survives Cuffing Season (+ Your PERFECT Match)

Rather, the term refers to that magical time of year when the air gets cold and crisp and unsuspecting singles everywhere are seized by an overwhelming urge to settle down with someone like a pair of the fluffiest lovebirds you ever did see.

The Urban Dictionary definition of this undeniable, possibly astrological (and certainly astronomical) event, is as follows:

"Cuffing Season: During the Fall and Winter monthspeople 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."

The theory behind it all is that when the weather gets chilly, even people typically prefer a life without commitments or responsibility to others become eager to form close relationships, or at least to try turning their casual hookups into something meaningful enough to merit a standing Sunday brunch date.

If we were going to be all caught up on semantics, the phrase should be properly written as 'cuffing season.

That's because this notion of coupling up during the winter months is mostly discussed among single folks who suddenly find their single friends are nestling down into relationships for the winter. The 'cuffing they woefully realize is happening to their bestie and now seemingly former partner-in-crime?

That's shorthand for handcuffing. Locked up in the slammer of relationship prison.

RELATED: How To Make A 'Friends With Benefits' Relationship Work (Even If You Develop Feelings) 

What makes these seasonally grown pairings different from your typical evolution into a long-term relationship? I think the best way to explain that can be summed up in one word: intention.

When you enter into a legit, (hopefully) long-term relationship with someone who calls you their girlfriend or boyfriend is that the two of you hope and expect that you will grow in your relationship together over time. You may be polyamorous. You may be monogamous. You may both want to get married. You may both never want to get married. You may both want kids or not.

But the overall idea is that you both agree you will ideally be sharing your collective future together, and you plan for this relationship to last.

Cuffing each other might mean an increased level of commitment between two people who were only casually dating for the past couple of weeks or months, but it by no means indicates that either person has the intention of allowing things to become super serious.

People who pair up during this time of year are a lot like pigeons under a highway during the snowiest of months. It doesn't really matter if they like each other much. As long as they're next to another warm body and can agree to do what it takes to keep each other warm, they're instantly inseparable... until ice thaws, that is.

When you feel the urge to couple up over the course of the quickly coming cold weather months, you're feeling the pull of universal powers that may possibly be beyond your control. That's nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, even if your friends give you grief for it.

After all, arguably the best thing about this whole thing is that, at least in theory, this time shall have an end. That first beautiful flush of warmth during Spring will release you both to go your separate ways and you will once again be free to let your proverbial single freak flags fly!

At least, until next Fall.

RELATED: 10 Reasons To Ignore Cuffing Season And Stay Single AF This Fall 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:20 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.