‘Winter Coating’ Is The Cuffing Season Dating Trend Of Nightmares

When cuffing season comes around, it’s pretty much expected that some people in the dating scene will be seeking someone to hook up with until spring comes around. However, what if it’s your ex that pops up hoping for a reunion? This new dating trend is known as winter coating, and it’s becoming more and more popular.

What is the “winter coating” dating trend all about?

It’s relatively simple. When the weather gets cold, all you want is to be warm and cozy. So, you pull out your winter coat from the back of the closet and spend those few freezing months feeling nice and toasty and bundled up. When spring comes, that coat goes back into the closet and is forgotten about altogether.

The winter coat dating trend is putting this practice in human terms. It’s when an ex decides they’re desperate to rekindle your relationship, but only for the winter. An offshoot of cuffing season, this is more toxic because it involves someone with whom you were previously in a relationship. Things ended for a reason. Perhaps your partnership was toxic or they cheated on you. Whatever the reason, coupling up again, even temporarily, is likely a very bad idea.

Why it’s becoming so popular

Dating is tough at the best of times, but winter is cold, dark, and lonely. When you’re not in a relationship or even seeing someone, it becomes more apparent that you’re alone. That bothers people. So, if you have someone nearby who you know well, care about (or once did), and who’s available, it’s very tempting.

“Familiarity feels safe and nothing else in the world feels safe right now. When you are alone and looking for something that can make you feel good, you reflect on the best parts of past relationships. This can often drive people to seek out exes and wrap themselves up in an old connection like a toasty blanket or a warm winter coat,” dating coach Eric Resnick tells Bolde.

“Dating in general is getting harder and harder for a lot of people right now. There’s a lot of fatigue in online dating and that compounds with the desire to have someone to snuggle up with on cold winter nights. When it feels like the world isn’t letting you move forward, the easiest thing to do is to look back and see if there’s any opportunity to be had.”

It’s no wonder, then, that winter coating is happening more and more these days. It’s effortless, comfortable, and fulfilling, even if only temporarily.

Signs this is happening to you

  1. Their feelings are pretty intense considering you haven’t spoken to them in months. It’s almost as if your ex is love bombing you. Things didn’t end well when you last spoke, but suddenly, they’re over it. In fact, their feelings seem stronger than ever. They suddenly can’t stop thinking about you and really miss you. They just want to see your face because they love spending time with you. Huh, that’s a bit weird.
  2. They’re not interested in talking about the future. This is a hallmark of winter coating. Despite being so into you, your ex has no interest in talking about the future. They’re very much about living in the present and can’t (or won’t) make plans beyond the next few weeks. When you try to discuss becoming a proper couple again, they change the subject. That’s because they won’t be around anymore once winter’s over.
  3. They’re keen to hibernate together for the rest of winter. There is no easing back into your relationship with your ex in the winter coating dating trend. It happens hard and fast, and it’s like you were never apart. They settle into coupledom very quickly and want nothing more than to hunker down for the winter, watch lots of Netflix, eat a lot of takeout, and have a lot of sex.
  4. They refuse to discuss your past relationship issues. If you’re going to get back together, there’s some stuff you have to iron out. However, your ex isn’t interested in that. Conflict resolution is only necessary if you’re looking for longevity in your relationship. Since this will be over in a few months, they’re not interested in working things out.
  5. They start to get antsy as spring approaches. The closer you get to warmer weather, the more your ex begins to pull away again. Hibernation season is over and your winter relationship is swiftly coming to an end. Chances are, they’ll be back again next year.

Why winter coating is so harmful

If it’s consensual between both parties, the winter coating dating trend doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Both people know where they stand and there are no expectations, so it’s fine, right? Well, not really. The fact is that this dating trend is rarely a mutually agreed-upon experience. Oftentimes, one person believes that they’re starting (or restarting) an actual relationship. They have no idea that devastating is around the corner. Not only that, but retreading old ground is rarely a positive experience.

“Winter coating is essentially just hiding out in a memory. Aside from the fact that the two of you previously broke up and it is
rarely wise to re-open an old wound like that, you don’t know what the other person is expecting. For you, it could be a fun reunion to get through the holidays, but for them, it could be a chance to catch the one that got away,” Resnick says. “It can go both ways. You may start to feel like you really have a second chance at love with this person, and they are just happy to not be alone when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.”

What to do if you think you’re being winter coated

  1. Call them out on it. Like in most situations, communication is key. If your ex reaches out to you and wants to rekindle things, you both have to be willing to have some frank conversations about the reality of the situation. “Open communication is the key to success if you think you’re being winter coated,” advises mental health specialist Emma Loker. “If your ex unexpectedly reaches out to you over the holiday season, make sure you have a frank, open chat about both of your feelings and intentions for this.”
  2. Set firm boundaries and don’t allow them to be crossed. Let’s say you know that you’re being winter coated and you’re into the idea. It’s incredibly important that you set boundaries with the other person and hold firm to them no matter what. Make sure that you remain comfortable with the situation and not being harmed by the situation. If things ever shift and you no longer feel good about what’s happening, don’t hesitate to walk away.
  3. Be honest with yourself about your feelings. Even if you know your ex is only interested in winter coating, you might consider getting back together temporarily. After all, it’s better than being alone all winter. Before you go there, think twice. You could set yourself back in some serious ways. “Have you been feeling sad and lonely and don’t have the motivation to date someone new? In this instance, it may not be a healthy pull towards winter coating, which could lead to you accepting poor treatment from your former partner,” Loker adds.
  4. Delete their number and block them. If your ex suddenly reaches out wanting to reconcile when the weather gets cold, cut that nonsense off immediately and don’t entertain it. If you’re looking for love, there’s nothing to gain by retreading old territory. Block and delete them for good. You’ll be happier if you do.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill