With Cuffing Season upon us, hundreds and maybe even thousands of duos will be pairing off to essentially hibernate through the winter together and give pause to endless swiping. But before we get charmed into what is almost always a more complicated relationship than anyone planned, maybe it’s good to do a little planning. Not a formal legal thing like a prenup, but just a scout’s honor type plan or a discussion, maybe followed by a text, to remind both parties what’s getting started and what it all might mean later.
Here’s a quick checklist of issues to consider and discuss before you cuff:
Is the cuffing to be a monogamous deal? If so, what are the boundaries? Do both parties have the same definition of what monogamy even is?
2. Walkaway Rights/Term
Is the cuffing to be an ongoing thing, maybe even with the hope of living happily ever after? Or is this a seasonal affair, with a relatively known or planned for duration? Example: This is fun, I’m so excited to be with you, you’re fantastic – but when winter is really starting to feel like spring, I probably can’t be relied on anymore.
Also, might there be community property created during the cuffing — some purchases, mementos or just some kind of tchotchkes that need to be accounted for if and when the cuffing deal concludes?
3. Public Profile/Terminology
Are you both comfortable calling yourselves “a couple?” If not, what is appropriate to describe your relationship? Dating? Significant other?
Also, how should other people view you? As a unit, a package deal, or as two single individuals? For example, if you’re invited to a party or a wedding, is your cuffing partner automatically assumed to be invited? How about routine dinner parties? Weekends out of town?
4. Flirtation Rights
Does your cuffing require you to basically stop ogling gorgeous others in public? Is it a condition of your cuffing that you delete all dating apps (e.g. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, et al.) and stop flirting with all strangers?
5. Visitation Rights
Will the cuffing partners exchange keys to each other’s residences? Is it okay to just show up anytime unannounced? Is it okay to leave belongings at the other’s place? Dirty laundry and dishes?
Is the deal to always split dinner and bar tabs 50/50? What about travel? Gifts given to others from the two of you?
Having a candid conversation about these topics up front should help ensure both parties are on the same page and prevent unneeded tears, passive aggressive texts, and of course, an inevitable ghosting.