The autumn leaves are turning beautiful colors as they float to the ground. The days are getting cooler and shorter. And the winter holidays are on their way to your singleness. <insert sigh>
Here it comes again, strutting into your life every fall like clockwork, try as you might to avoid or ignore it … that darned cuffing season. We know it all too well.
Generally starting in October, singles facing lonely holidays will often want to get “cuffed,” or seasonally committed both emotionally and sexually, to another human being until spring arrives.
One might usually be promiscuous, as single as a pringle or in “relation-shopping” status. Cuffing season coaxes many to crave that committed romance for all those holiday parties and long, dark, cold winter nights. Family gatherings are prime times to want a date, if only to ward off pointed questions and inconsiderate remarks.
It’s tempting to see these urges to cuff as biological, but they’re really not. Singles do report the urge to be cuffed more in colder northern climates, and none in places like Hawaii or the southwest U.S. The most reliable research I found about the phenomenon reported that there may be some correlation between cold temperatures and feelings of loneliness: Possible correlation of cold temps to loneliness. However, holidays appear to be the bigger pressure to be cuffed.
Even “strong” Christians might cave in to the desire to “Netflix and chill” when they haven’t had a date in months. Seeing other couples getting amorous waiting in line at the coffee shop just adds fuel to the fire.
As followers of Jesus, we must have a different response to such cultural phenomena. We are not to follow the world’s solutions for our physical desires, Romans 12:1–2. I have ten tips for single Christians wanting to thrive despite this season:
1. Remember who you are and whose you are. If you have committed your heart and life to Jesus, then you belong to Jesus. According to 1 Corinthians 6:12–20, we don’t have the stubborn freedom to do whatever we want to with our bodies. He died to save us, and He can save us through yet another holiday season alone. But also remember, when you belong to Jesus, no matter how isolated you are or feel …
2. You’re never truly alone. Talk through your feelings with God. He’s always ready to listen and empower you to live for Him. He understands our loneliness; remember what happened at the Garden of Gethsemane?
3. Remember the real reason for marriage. Marriage is not just to fulfill your sexual urges or provide companionship, though God created it for those reasons. Marriage illustrates the spiritual relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). Honoring God in your future marriage will take work, both before and during a marriage, in the form of the next tip:
4. Practice delayed gratification. Self-control is listed last in Galatians 5:22–23 for a reason! Sometimes it is very difficult to develop self-control. Yet anything good worth having is worth sacrificing for. That means your future marriage! Keep reminding yourself that you are saving yourself for, not just your wife or husband, or a marriage with a godly foundation, but God Himself. He is immensely pleased when we seek to represent Him well with genuine, hard-fought personal discipline.
5. Don’t focus on your singleness, or on couples. Lose your concern over when is it going to be your turn. It’s like watching the clock when you’re waiting for something big. Train yourself not to glare or sigh at every couple who walks in front of you holding hands or smooching in that coffee line. Instead of letting others distract you, distract yourself with a positive focus. Turn away and look at something else if it’s really bugging you.
6. Avoid summoning temptation into your life in forms like the Hallmark channel, porn, unacceptable candidates who have been trying to creep into your life and texts from exes.
7. Stay connected. Now is a great time to connect with family and friends regularly, not just for events. Create some occasions of your own — surprise others with unexpected texts, handwritten notes, emails and phone calls. Those who love you and haven’t heard from you in a while will be delighted to hear from you!
8. Enjoy the season and have fun. With so much going on nearly every day during this season, you can be as busy, or not busy, as you want to be during the holidays. Whatever you choose to do, be there in the moment. Enjoy it and the people around you.
9. Do new things. Make new memories. Explore new eateries. Try new recipes, play new games and go to new events. Create a new tradition. Maybe have Thanksgiving at your house and invite not just your friends, but international college students, widows and military personnel away from their families. It will be fun to create new traditions that you can continue even after you get married.
10. Be patient. Your day will come. Patience is a difficult quality to develop, but it will come in very handy once you get married. Get your practice in before you meet “the one”!
Don’t fall for cuffing season. Instead, thoroughly enjoy your holidays!