Are you cuffing or bluffing? Why people are succumbing to the pressure of coupling up

Written by Leah Sinclair

According to new research from dating app Badoo, over a third (33%) of daters believe the pressure of cuffing season has led them to bluff themselves into thinking they’re more into something than they really are to avoid being alone over winter.

In case you hadn’t noticed, cuffing season is well underway. 

Usually beginning around September or October and lasting until just after Valentine’s Day, cuffing season refers to the period of time when single people begin looking for short-term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year.

However, new research reveals the pressure to cosy up with someone is obstructing what we truly want, and instead, leading singles to bluff themselves (or others) into thinking they’re more into something than they actually are – something that dating app Badoo calls ‘bluffing season’.

According to new research from Badoo, over a third of singles (33%) believe that cuffing season has led them to date someone they’re not 100% sure about. Why? Well, most admit it’s to avoid being alone over winter, with some feeling left when their friends are all in relationships and others saying it’s because their family keep checking in on their relationship status.

But it doesn’t stop there. Not only have daters pursued someone they’re unsure about, but the pressure to find someone means 42% have limited their true selves, or at least certain aspects of their personality, to avoid being single during the colder months. Nearly a third (30%) have even gone so far as to ignore red flags in a partner, while one in five (20%) have overlooked more suitable partners because things aren’t moving quickly enough. 

“It’s not surprising that many daters are ‘bluffing’ (to themselves or others) about wanting a relationship right now,” says dating and relationships expert Persia Lawson. “At this time of year, there’s a lot of pressure and desire to find someone special to cosy up with – especially when your friends are up to all sorts of romantic antics with their partners. So if you find yourself being tempted to couple up quickly for all the wrong reasons, here are my top tips to help you navigate the ‘bluff’.”

Lawson suggests four key ways to avoid bluffing season, starting with acknowledging that if it’s not real, it won’t last.

“If you or the person you’re dating is coupling up just for snuggles during the frosty months, it’s only a matter of time before the cracks of incompatibility begin to surface,” she warns. “If the communication stays surface-level, there’s no talk about the future or there are zero intros to family and friends, don’t kid yourself (or the person you’re dating) that there’s a real connection. It’ll only end in tears.”

Lawson adds that just as Christmas is coming up, there’s no need to “race to nab yourself a relationship”. 

“There’s something to be said for moving slowly,” she suggests. “Take your time to date, and notice who you feel most comfortable with rather than settling for whoever shows up first. When you allow space for a connection to evolve organically (instead of artificially engineering a relationship), you give yourself the best chance of experiencing a connection that can survive well beyond the winter.”

Another important aspect of not indulging in bluffing season is to be honest with the person you’re dating and say it like it is.

“If you sense that the person you’re dating isn’t really into you (or if you’re not into them), be honest and tell them,” she advises. “This will open up space for an honest conversation about where you’re both at and what you really want, which will either lead to you going your separate ways or getting to know one another at a deeper level, which could then evolve into a more genuine connection over time.”

And lastly, Lawson’s most important advice of all is to acknowledge that spending time with yourself is way better than coupling up with someone as a temporary fix.

“You are your best festive date. Who says that being coupled up during winter is actually better? Being single at this time of year can be a really positive thing, if you choose to perceive it as such.

“Everything’s on your terms and, best of all, you don’t have to worry about all the bickering and mood swings that are an inevitable part of being in a relationship during winter. It could be a lot worse.”

Whether you choose to engage or not engage with cuffing season, it’s important to focus on your own value and happiness during this time and not feel pressured to date or couple up out of fear, concern or FOMO.

Surround yourself with friends and family and, most importantly, acknowledge that spending time by yourself and enjoying it can be the best way to spend this season of hibernation.

After all, peace of mind is always preferable to situations and people who could disrupt that for you in a couple of months.

Image: Getty

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