PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As temperatures begin to cool off and the slough of fall and winter holidays hit the masses, there is a want, or need, to find someone to be with during the darkest time of year.

As defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary cuffing season is “the period of time where single people begin looking for short-term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year.” It typically goes from October through its culmination on the day of love, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

The earliest use of the term “cuffing season” appeared in college newspapers in 2011, but the term’s use on dating apps, as well as a growing use in pop culture, pushed it into the mainstream.

Now, however, over a decade after the term’s first usage, there is evidence that cuffing season may be coming to an end.

According to Bumble’s Sex & Relationship Expert Shan Boodram, cuffing season is on the way out and that is actually a good thing.

“When we pigeonhole ourselves into a narrative like cuffing season, we find ourselves in relationships born out of convenience or pressure, not mutual desire for a strong, meaningful relationship,” Boodram told KOIN 6.

According to recent research by Bumble, 52% of Portlanders said they don’t participate in the cuffing season trend calling it an ‘outdated narrative.’

“The conversation is shifting to support the idea that singles shouldn’t hold themselves to an arbitrary timeline – which often results in lowering one’s standards in order to find a match.”

Shane Boodram – Sex & Relationship Expert, Bumble

So, what happened to signal the shift away from the concept of cuffing season? According to Boodram, the pandemic may have been a big part of it.

“The pandemic also threw a curveball into the whole cuffing season game. With people hunkering down and keeping their social circles small, it seemed like the perfect time to find that one person to cozy up with during chilly months,” said Boodram. “Now, with the noticeable shift back to normalcy, people are no longer in a rush to trade in typical summertime socializing behind to “cuff” themselves to just one person.”

And in more instances, the numbers in Portland match up to Boodram’s take with 68% of Portlanders saying that the idea of cuffing season just brings additional stress during the holiday season due to gift-giving or meeting a partner’s friends and family.

So where does dating go now? If fall and winter aren’t the defacto dating seasons, when are people looking for relationships? The answer is, quite simply, people are looking all the time.

Nationally, Bumble reported that 72% of millennials are seeking serious relationships no matter what time of year it is, which Boodram says is a good thing.

“We’re seeing people eager to date on their own timelines and not be bound by specific seasons. We’re already seeing a shift towards embracing the idea that every season can be ‘dating season,’ Boodram said. “Personally, I don’t think we should limit ourselves to just one time of year to find love and connection. The conversation is shifting to support the idea that singles shouldn’t hold themselves to an arbitrary timeline – which often results in lowering one’s standards in order to find a match.”

The shift away from cuffing season also brings more of a focus to other kinds of relationships, like friendships, which a third of people interviewed said they are focusing on this fall and winter over a romantic relationship.

Along those same lines, 56% of Portlanders said they prefer to spend their holidays with friends they consider ‘chosen family’ over relatives and 50% said they wish they could bring a friend to family gathers for emotional support.

The way we spend time with friends year round also changed due to the pandemic, which Boodram said brought more focus to how and who we choose to spend time with, emphasizing quality over quantity.

“The pandemic encouraged us to reevaluate our in-person interactions and the people with whom we invest our time,” said Boodram. “Quality time that we took for granted became more special and I think we continue to see that years later, people are putting thought and care into how we keep up with friends and are prioritizing those mutually beneficial relationships.”

Whether you’re on the hunt for a relationship, friends or you want to deepen your connection with the people already around you, the general consensus appears to be that these kinds of things can happen any time, and the colder months aren’t being defined by getting ‘cuffed’ to someone else.