Relationship Tips

‘Snow Storming’ Is the Dating Term for Undoing Your Cuffing Season Relationships

Photo: Getty Images/ Peter Muller
A New Year is here, and the cozy fall vibes and family-packed holidays are in the rearview mirror. We’re also nearing the end of cuffing season, the period from roughly November to mid-February when the early sunsets and cold weather lead people to pair off in the name of fighting the loneliness and boredom that winter can bring. Now there is a new term to add to your cold-weather dating vocabulary: snow storming, the act of ending your cuffing season partnership with a clean break.

Coined by the dating app Wingman, the term describes someone breaking free of the cuffing season attachments they formed and severing contact moving forward. Think: disappearing like a snowflake swept into a storm. The cutesy name may be new, but the act of breaking up with someone with whom you’ve formed a short-term attachment isn’t.

According to Jess Carbino, PhD, and former sociologist at Tinder and Bumble, assigning fun names like snow storming and cuffing season to patterns in dating (there's also ghosting, cloaking, and orbiting, to name a few) helps us better understand what’s happening in our relationships.

In the case of snow storming, it may make sense to end things swiftly and cut off contact. The relationship itself was short and there's a strong chance it wasn’t built to last if you got into it specifically to avoid being lonely during a specific time period, Dr. Carbino says: “Dissolving the relationship in a way that’s a bit more abrupt makes sense because the emotional ties and the entanglements do not feel as strong.”

But is it a kind approach to take? And, are there best practices to know about? Below, Dr. Carbino and relationship coach Adelle Kelleher, founder of Coaching Hearts Consulting offer their best tips.

Is snow storming an acceptable practice to adopt in dating?

It's worth noting that making clean break in dating and severing all contact isn’t always a cruel thing to do. “Presumably there isn’t a lot of connective tissue there that would tether you to that relationship in a way that’s long-term,” Dr. Carbino says. “In any relationship that’s short-term, ending it in a way that is efficient if there is no interest in moving forward, done in a caring way, is appropriate.”

"Dissolving the relationship in a way that’s a bit more abrupt makes sense because the emotional ties and the entanglements do not feel as strong." —Jess Carbino, PhD and former sociologist at Tinder and Bumble

What can be cruel and chaotic is ghosting or ending things in an out-of-the-blue and rapid, blizzard-like confrontation. Unlike ghosting, snow storming doesn't mean being uncaring—and it's certainly possible to respectfully make clear your future boundaries when breaking in a way that allows for no future contact.

How to practice snow storming in dating while still being respectful

If you’ve decided to end your cuffing season relationship and want the clean break that snow storming affords, Dr. Carbino suggests you proceed "quickly, completely, and with care." Be considerate, and be ready to listen to what the other person has to say. “Fundamentally, if you explain to somebody that you’ve come to realize this is not right for you moving forward, most reasonable people will respect that,” she adds.

And do keep in mind that the end of cuffing season doesn't necessarily have to mean the end of your cuffing season relationship. Dr. Carbino and Kelleher advise not letting the cuffing season label determine the value you place on this relationship and whether it’s worth continuing or not. “What really matters is to try to disentangle yourself from the very real and strong social pressures and to assess long-term what you want from a partner and to find that person whether it’s December 3rd or August 3rd,” Dr. Carbino says.

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