When I first read that couples often engage in ‘cuffing’ around the start of November, I thought, sure, why not? It wouldn’t be my first choice, but if you’re looking to pass those long winter nights, this is the 21st century; consensual experimentation with restraints seems as good a way as any.
What the hell, throw in a couple of clamps and some hot wax too, why don’t you? Go nuts.
As it turns out, cuffing is not that (which is unfortunate as it means I’ve got a lot awkward internet purchases to return). According to the urban dictionary, since 2011 cuffing has been the term used to describe single people seriously stepping up the search for a long term partner. Cuffing to someone emotionally.
It was previously thought the a rise in partnerships during later months was just a need to huddle together for warmth. Or a reaction to the tv playing Love Actually on a bloody loop around this time of year.
In fact, the reason why when temperatures drop, rather than just getting a sweater a lot of us prefer to get a sweater with somebody else already in it, is down to our hormones.
That’s right, there is some actual science behind it. Not least an unexpected effect on your T levels.
Let’s face it, when autumn swings round most of us are gassed out. The thrill of the chase is fine for the longer, activity filled days of July and August but, like beach volleyball, serial dating is very much a summer sport.
As the nights draw in and it’s darker for longer it increases melatonin levels in our system. Melatonin is a hormone which helps to power down and prepare for sleep.
With more of this working on us, we’re extra relaxed and generally less motivated get out there. It’s probably all you can do to lift your Tinder finger. (That’s not a euphamism btw, I genuinely just mean the finger you use to swipe matches.)
So where does T factor in? Well believe it or not, in November our levels tend to see a rise.
I know that seems to go against conventional wisdom which says male hormone is higher in the summer and lower in the winter. But remember hormones fluctuate for all kinds of reasons.
In sunnier months they’re likely to spike thanks to plenty of vitamin D3 from soaking up the rays. Later in the year they’re up because you’ve got partner hunting to do. Plus as far as your primal instincts are concerned, it’s slim pickings out there.
Makes sense if you think about it. Cold weather and dark days mean less people out and about. On some level the caveman buried in all of us interprets this as a sudden partner shortage. Competition for places then. You’ll need the libido and confidence boosting edge T gives you.
So basically, your hormones make one last climb. To help you couple up, retreat back to a warm love nest and slowly Ferrero Rocher yourselves to death on the couch in front of ‘Elf.’ All your needs in one spot until Spring.
You still think I’ve just gone a bit broody, don’t you? Well I have data. Cold, hard, uncaring data.
A 2011 for study for example, saliva samples from over 700 men and women showed that T levels in both actually peaked during the fall season as opposed to summer.
The fact that women are probably looking to match up too is reassuring. It means your quest for someone to entice won’t end up looking like a Benny Hill Christmas Special.
An earlier study from 2003, on just men this time, showed something similar. 1500 men gave saliva samples, tested for luteinizing hormone, SHBG and T. The pattern researchers discovered was generally that T peak in December as opposed again to the middle of summer.
But cheer up Jon, mate. It’s not as bad as all that. Our bodies have an early Christmas bonus for us.
Sure it’s meant for cuffing, but it’s up to you what you use it for. If you fail to pull in the romantic sense you could still put that extra T to good use and go and pull on a rowing machine or something.