Date nights downtown or blank stares in Bobs: it’s cuffing season

Due to the sensitive nature of the article, surnames have not been disclosed and first names have been changed.

Use the term “cuffing season” around Colby students, and you’ll immediately hear some strong opinions. On the one hand, there are students like sophomore Aidan, a philosophy major and firm cuffing-season denier who immediately responded that “It doesn’t exist,” when asked about the subject.

On the other, there are those like Grace ’21 who, when informed of the beginning of cuffing season (Nov. 1, officially), had a much different outlook, expressing her excitement. However, it became clear that Grace believed cuffing season was the start of handcuff parties, an entirely different phenomenon that sees two strangers handcuffed for the night.

What cuffing season actually means at Colby is that around Nov. 1, people begin to couple off. Whether that means full relationships, or just becoming exclusive instead of roaming the apartments for a new partner every Saturday night, even some of Colby’s work-hard-play-hardest students start to settle down.

There are a few explanations for why this phenomenon occurs. One is the weather. The adventure of finding new hookups becomes increasingly dark, cold and snowy, and the ability to send a text to a reliable friend or lover or significant other (however the terms are defined) starts to sound decidedly comfier than venturing about campus. Erica ’20 believes cuffing season is real precisely for this reason. “Colby’s hookup scene is all about convenience,” she said “As it gets colder it’s just more convenient to have someone to hook up with instead of feeling like you have to go out to get that. One of my friends started hooking up with someone in her dorm around this time just because it was easier.”

Alana ’21 explained why she is optimistic about the coming season’s prospects. “Cuffing season, whether or not it’s a byproduct of the cold, is ultimately a good thing because it puts an end to the negative feelings that come with undefined hookups.” She went on to describe these behaviors, which she admits to experiencing herself. “That’s literally what I’m experiencing right now,” she explained, “I wouldn’t say I’m cuffed per se, but if I was approached by someone who is not the guy I usually hook up with, I would feel obligated to tell him that I hooked up with someone else.”

Nevertheless, Alana believes that  “it’s really important that people have conversations upfront about what they want to get out of the hookup. There’s just a real lack of common courtesy among students here. The way it usually goes, the girl has the power to decide if she will go home with a guy. But then, it’s up to the guy to decide if he will ever talk to the girl again.”

Another reason for the rise of cuffing season is much simpler: time. After a full two months on campus, the novelty of drunken hookups may start to fade for some students. Freshmen new to campus party culture begin to calm down; new, budding friendships and relationships have had time to settle in.

But there are still those who believe cuffing season is a concept based only vaguely in reality, created by the (small) population of Colby students in committed relationships.

“Hookup culture dominates,” Aidan adds, “Dating is either a freshman fling, juniors and seniors who go to real restaurants and bars, and long distance relationships.” When asked if there are looser definitions of relationships on campus, Aidan continues, “A lot of people hook up on a regular basis but don’t like to define their relationship. That’s the main way.”

Whether or not a drunken interaction later develops into a consistent hookup, there is always the ever-awkward possibility of sober confrontation. On Colby’s small campus, such a possibility is almost always fulfilled. “After a hookup, you’re satisfied sexually, but whether or not you will ever speak again…well, there is never really a consensus” Alana said. Hopefully, she added, the beginning of cuffing season will lessen the number of confused looks and stressed smiles plastered on students’ faces after the weekend. Or, of course, everyone could continue staring blankly at the floor while rapidly shoveling down their food to avoid catching the eye of a former hookup. How else will Dana clear out quickly on Sunday mornings?