There's a thing called 'Seasonal Dating Disorder', and you might have it
As the air gets colder and the nights grow longer up here in the northern hemisphere, what better way is there to spend an evening than by getting tucked up in bed with a good movie and a hot cup of cocoa? Maybe chuck a few candles in there to add a bit of atmosphere, don your ugliest, fluffiest pyjamas, and - when it gets closer to December - chuck on a few festive tunes.
Well, for a lot of people, there is one small change that needs to be made to the situation: there needs to be somebody to share it with.
For those of us who are already lucky enough to have somebody to cuddle up to, this isn't a problem at all. But, if you don't have a special someone at the moment, and find yourself pining for another warm body to occupy your bed, you might have something called 'Seasonal Dating Disorder'.
As strange as it may sound, this is considered by many psychologists to be a legitimate disorder, and it applies to people who are incapable of spending the winter months alone. "Cuffing season", as it is sometimes known, sees many couples getting together so that they have a companion during the colder weather - before ditching them when it starts to warm up again.
"Singles who display this type of dating pattern are unable to commit," explained Madeleine Mason, a relationships psychologist. She goes on:
"They use summer fun and friends as an excuse for this pattern, but in reality it is because they are unable to form lasting romantic bonds.
"They may have the illusion they can settle down whenever they want to, but they can’t and until they do decide they want a lasting relationship will they realise they are unable to; that’s when I’ll see them in my office."
Mason also outlines four symptoms for the condition, which many people can probably relate to.
The first symptom is having a fear of loneliness during the festive season, and making a deliberate effort to find a partner during the fall in order to counteract that feeling.
After that, the second symptom is feeling bored or trapped by the relationship after just a few months - usually around Valentine's Day for those who got together at about this time of year.
Following this, the third symptom is a strong desire to be single by the end of those three months, and having a strong sense of relief - or even joy - when the time comes to break up.
Finally, the fourth symptom is that this behaviour will be repeated for at least three years.
In several interviews with self-confessed Seasonal Dating Disorder sufferers, sources asked those afflicted by the condition to describe how they felt during these months.
"It's great having a boyfriend through the cold months, but by the time spring rolls round I'm nearly always fed up of them, so break things off," said 25-year-old Lucinda Burton-Thompson.
"Every autumn, I start looking for a new boyfriend," explained Samantha Moore, who is 24. "No one wants to be on their own during winter – it’s depressing."
This pattern of behaviour seems mainly to affect those in the millennial age bracket, and is tied in to the modern short-term dating ideals perpetuated by things like Tinder and hookup culture.
But hey, is there really any harm in finding someone to share those long, winter nights with? Yes, it might seem shallow and a little bit selfish, but if both people are into it, what's the problem? Plus, it might end up being a long-term thing in the end.