Credit: GG Illustrator Dorota Dziki (@drawing_dorota)

All I want for Christmas is me

By Holly Jennings

Set down those winter-warming handcuffs everyone, we’re calling an end to cuffing season this year.

You’ve driven the boat, kissed in the Rolls, been a big Ol’ freak – it’s been a hot girl summer, but suddenly, there’s no more heat. Just like that, you’re back walking down Kelvin Way, the leaves turning orange and your hoe summer is only a memory. Cuffing season has arrived.

In a normal year, pumpkin spice latte season sets in and people aren’t just thirsty for coffee anymore. For some reason, the changing of the seasons rewinds the evolutionary clock and we’re all desperate for a mate to cuddle after a long day of hunting (for the will to live in the library). The actual securing of the cuffs happens just after Halloween, because, I mean who doesn’t want to be single for Halloween? Morals are often compromised (can you really wear that Never Kissed a Tory badge in good faith?) as people drop their expectations in the Black-Friday-sale equivalent of dating – it’s a mad scramble, and usually you end up buying something you didn’t really want just because it was 60% off. This newly adopted partner will, if they’re lucky, make it through Valentine’s Day until the sun returns in March and then the next hot girl summer is on the horizon. 

But November 1 arrived this year, and I didn’t wake up with a heart full of desperation. The world has changed significantly in 2020, and the dating world is no exception. I’ve seen couples break up when I’d expected to dance at their weddings, I’ve witnessed my best friends’ hearts being broken, and even experienced some spicy dating moments myself. However, I’ve not sworn off love completely – I’ve also watched the most beautiful moments which made my cold Grinch heart grow three sizes. 

Over the last three years, I’ve had three different partners, three coupled up New Years’, and three hot girl summers – you do the maths. Whether that’s me being lucky enough to find love thrice or my deep-seated inability to be alone is up for debate. Regardless, the social climate surrounding being alone in the winter months has a big role to play in my dating history. I don’t know if it’s the adverts, Love Actually, or the real-life couples, but either way, I’m looking at you lot.

There’s nothing quite like brunching with your Disney fairytale, my partner could do no wrong, the wedding is in five years friend. After 15 minutes of nodding along to any and all updates about their partner’s life, including their sister’s friend’s dog’s birthday party, comes the dreaded questioning. Usually prefaced by a brushed “enough about me!come the sad eyes, 45-degree head tilt, and ever so slightly strained: “How’s the love life?” “Are you seeing anyone?” “Have you tried Tinder?” 

As they sit in their ivory tower of cuddles and being cuffed, small little lonesome me apparently looks quite pathetic. 

Thankfully, Covid has been a great excuse and opportunity for fending off any of these toxic interrogations, be it from friends or family, since any sign of dating in the pandemic is reacted to with intense animosity. @KaufmanAudrey on Twitter summarises it perfectly: “Girls will be like “oh you’re dating during the pandemic? I stay home and have sex with my long-term serious boyfriend who loves me because I actually care about other people lol”. 

Covid has decided to make it just that much harder for us to meet people. Gone are the days of locking eyes in Hive as Smashmouth plays in the background, replaced by trying to flirt in front of 30 other people in a sober society social on Zoom. But this year, I’m not feeling quite so lonesome – not because I have a revolving door of partners, but honestly, I just can’t be arsed. This horrific year, caring for my own happiness has been enough work, never mind finding the energy to sit through Zoom dates learning about how he was going to be a really successful footballer until the knee injury.

I don’t fully know why cuffing season isn’t psychologically wreaking havoc with me this year, it could be couples no longer breathing down my neck or it could be that John Lewis’ Christmas ad was fundamentally underwhelming. Maybe it’s because I’m busier, maybe it’s because everyone’s bloody miserable, or maybe it’s me finally dealing with those pesky issues I have about being alone; but the intense winter romance pressure seems to have faded for quite a few of us. Whilst one pandemic has been sweeping the nation, I’m happy to report that another has been stifled for me this year – viva la hot girl summer 2021.


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