They call it snuggle weather for a reason. Everyone starts pairing off and holing up with the first person they can find, because it’s too damn cold and too damn dark to do anything else. There are still options to be social – bars still host happy hours, intramural sports leagues still provide winter seasons, friends still occasionally invite you to a birthday dinner.
But when nighttime starts settling over you before it’s even 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and the air is instantly biting the minute you walk outside, and the sullen moods of neighboring passengers on the commute home from work start seeping into your skin, it’s practically impossible to convince yourself to do anything besides go home and immediately put on pajamas.
If you do manage to get yourself off the couch and back out into the world with other humans, it’s not with the same hope, excitement, and feeling of possibility that you have in the spring, summer, and fall. You’re not thinking about the people you might meet, the night you’re going to have, the Ted Mosby-esque hope that you’ll have a chance encounter with the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. None of that seems likely right now. Going out in the winter is more like a slow, painful, do-this-or-you’re-gonna-feel-guilty kind of experience.
The warm, sunny days of outdoor seating and 9 o’clock sunsets are long gone. So here you are, in the dead of the darkest season, feeling lonely and sad and staring longingly at the Snapchats and Instagrams of people who seem so happily coupled off. You watch couples in commercials wearing warm socks and cuddling on the couch under thick blankets and you feel like this would all just be bearable if only you had that.
When the wetness of snow seeps into your boots everywhere you walk, or you grow tired of heading to work in darkness and leaving work in darkness, you dwell on an imaginary winter love, because you feel like if you just had somebody right now, it would make all this shittiness go away. So sometimes you just spend the whole season thinking about this imaginary person, and sometimes you actually pair up with somebody – often someone with whom the connection isn’t that strong, or someone who you would normally never go for. But they’re a warm body, a link to the outside world, a way to feel like you’re still out there, searching for love, without really having to do that much.
But dwelling on imaginary, perfect, ABC Thursday night-drama worthy love that fixes your sadness and makes everything better is not going to help you. And neither is pairing off with someone you don’t really want to be with. Because winter love, if it’s found with the wrong intentions – like just wanting someone, anyone, to fill a void – isn’t really love at all. It’s just a bandaid.
It’s okay to want someone. It’s okay to dislike being alone. It’s human nature to want to join forces with someone you love and make it through the shorter, sadder days by holding onto each other. But don’t waste away four or five months of your year by staring out the window and daydreaming about storybook romances.
If you can’t fall in love with someone right now, figure out how to fall back in love with your life. If you (understandably) don’t want to leave the house as often, take this time to challenge your mind. Start making a steady way through that list of books you’ve been meaning to read for the last five years. Use the infinite number of streaming options available right at your finger tips to watch a documentary about something you know little about. Learn how to play the guitar or use Photoshop – there are an infinite number of people on YouTube who will teach you for free. Take up knitting. Take up coding. Take up painting. Take up Spanish.
It’s okay to be sad, tired, a little lethargic. But keep doing the things that remind you that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Spring will make its way back. A time will come again when it stays light outside after 5 o’clock. People will take their dogs on walks and sip Bloody Mary’s on restaurant patios. You just have to get through winter first. Yes, it would be easier to do that with your soulmate by your side. But you can do it without them for a little while. You can read things, learn things, watch things, explore new things; you can still love your life, you can still enjoy being with yourself – even in the dead of winter.