As the year draws to a close and the weather gets colder, there seems to be a certain magic in the air, and I don’t mean the holidays — I’m talking about cuffing season. 

Cuffing season refers to the trend of getting into seasonal romantic relationships during the colder months of the year, usually starting in mid-fall and running through the winter. 

Maybe the phenomenon stems from the desire to have someone to bring home for the holidays or kiss under the mistletoe — either way, a free human space heater does make more financial sense than racking up your utilities bill when it gets chilly outside. 

While I love a good Christmas rom-com as much as anyone, and it’s exciting to watch my friends get into relationships, the romantic expectation surrounding this time of the year touches on a personal insecurity of mine — I’m 21 years old and have never been in a serious romantic relationship. 

I’m going into this cuffing season single again. I’m someone who really values alone time, so I don’t necessarily feel more lonely this time of year, but sometimes I do look at my friends’ relationships and think: why not me? In the words of Taylor Swift herself, it’s hard not to feel that “I’m the problem, it’s me.” 

All throughout high school and university, I’ve always been the “single friend” — a third wheel on the tricycle of my friends’ romances. I’ve never felt uncomfortable riding shotgun on my friends' relationships, and, more importantly, I’m not an awkward third wheel: I’m a cool third wheel. I don’t ask to join in on dates or follow couples around — I get invited because I’m simply a joy to be around. 

I’ve done face masks with my friends and their boyfriends, tried on gifts to see if they would fit right, organized promposals and been a mediator during disagreements. I see myself as a fun add-on, like the extra tunnel expansion pack you buy for your hamster’s new cage. 

I think a lot of my anxiety around being single comes from a fear of missing out rather than a genuine desire to be in a relationship. Also, I already have a weighted blanket and a therapist — so I’m not really sure I need a boyfriend.

Although I worry about being a third wheel for the rest of my life, I wonder, do I even want to be in a relationship? I’m not sure. As Taylor Swift once said, “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.”

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