As summer officially came to an end on September 22, welcoming in fall, lower temperatures and less sunshine, we find ourselves preparing for a very important time of year for many — cuffing season, of course. Now defined by Merriam-Webster, cuffing season is “the time of the year when the weather starts to turn cold and single people begin the active search for romantic partners in the hope of having someone with whom to ride out the colder, snowier, bleaker months.” This is often believed to begin in October, but people start seeking out prospects long before then in the hopes of maintaining a connection, at least until it’s warm again.
But cuffing season and the way people go about it has had to change amid the pandemic and continues to. For those looking for a guide on the best ways to handle things in the time of COVID-19, you’re in luck. Popular dating app BLK has created an official cuffing season guide crafted by Georgia-based illustrator Davian Chester, whose work has graced the coveted homepage of Google in honor of Juneteenth. It may have been news to you that there are so many stages to this time of canoodling and coupling: scouting, drafting, try-outs, pre-season, actual cuffing season, playoffs, and then the championship, which is making it to Valentine’s Day. (See some of the graphics throughout.)
For further help to understand all of that and to do cuffing season right these days, we gained some insight from the head of the BLK brand, Jonathan Kirkland. He talked with us about the steady rates of people preferring digital interactions to in-person ones presently, why you should never be scared to make the first move in communication, and why the more people you connect with, the better the chance you’ll find whatever it is you’re looking for.
ESSENCE: How would you say the pandemic changed how people go about cuffing season these days? We’re in a somewhat better place than last year now that there is a vaccine, so is there a renewed excitement about it?
Jonathan Kirkland: Better place? In terms of having a vaccine now vs. last year, yes. However, with the new variants of the virus popping up along with rising infection rates, we still must take measures to protect ourselves – even in dating. We saw a big uptick last year in app usage attributed to stay-at-home orders. We are still seeing people use BLK at the same rates post-vaccine. This tells us that people are getting to know one another digitally first before meeting IRL. Cuffing season will go on, but swiping, texting, and video chats are integral parts of the season this year.
What tips would you offer to help people get the scouting process going? Some of us sit back waiting for others to say something or make a move and don’t know the right thing to say to ‘shoot our shot.’
- Do you wait for that next job to call first??? No. If you see something, want something, go after it and get it! Empower yourself to send that first message. And guess what? If they don’t reply, there are six million other people who have downloaded BLK. I think you’ll be okay.
- Easiest way to get scouting season started is downloading BLK. Find local singles with similar interests. Pay attention and read profiles before you swipe right. Trust me, it’ll save both of you wasted time.
- BLK was created because we were not being seen, heard, or understood on mainstream dating apps. Waiting for someone else to say something first is contradictory to that message. If you match with someone, you’ve already been seen, now it’s time for you to be heard with that first message. If you can’t think of anything to say, read their profile info to see what they’re into and start from there.
What tips would you offer to help people go about making connections that could get them to Valentine’s Day and further, which is a goal for some?
- Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Meeting new people is always a journey. There will be some speed bumps and detours, which is normal.
- Be honest with yourself. Know what you really want and be truthful about what you are bringing to the table.
- The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find someone who meets your vibe. Keep your dates short and sweet so that you can connect with more people.
Check out the full guide from BLK and its colorful illustrations, step by step, here.