One of the most overlooked but crucial factors that can affect your dating life is the season — the time of year. Throughout the year, there are periods when you prefer socializing with people and times when you want to stay locked indoors and enjoy the company of Ralph, your cocker spaniel. Summer months provide more socializing options, either hanging out at a bar patio or mingling in the cool air conditioning of a restaurant or a pool hall.
Winter months offer the option of cozying up to your date in a warm movie theater or sipping hot chocolate in a booth at your favorite cafe.
What type are you?
Plenty of people enjoy dating in the warmer months, and you might be one of them. However, if that describes you, and you have an aversion to socializing in colder temperatures, you may be prone to seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasons don’t necessarily affect your actual dating life. It’s more like seasons affect the people involved in your dating life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is one common type of depression that comes and goes according to the seasons. It typically starts in the late fall or early winter months and disappears during the spring and summer months.
While common depressive episodes linked to summer can occur, they are much less frequent than winter episodes of SAD. As temperatures drop and days become shorter, you may feel the mood change. Because of this, the way you deal with daily life, including dating, may be affected.
Seasonal depression in dating can also negatively impact communication, physical bonding, and other habits formed with your partner. In some people, the desire to communicate can decline, which may cause isolation mainly because the person is preoccupied with negative thoughts. They may be easily irritated by the simplest things that didn’t bother them before—for example, being annoyed with how someone is breathing or eating is a form of SAD.
SAD can also affect the ability to focus and concentrate. In a recent case study, during the cooler months, college students reported having difficulty retaining information leading up to the winter holidays than in the warmer months.
In other words, if you are out to dinner on a first date with someone in the winter months, you may be sitting across the table from someone you think isn’t paying attention. They may be having difficulty remembering what you said due to SAD. Unfortunately, you may become frustrated and discouraged with your date.
If you are unaware of the full scope of the situation, this may also cause you to judge your date as grumpy or boring. Chances are, a second date is out of the question.
What to Do if You Are in a Mood
You might not recognize that you are affected by the season and chalk it up to being in a bad mood. However, if your irritable temperament lasts several days, you may be dealing with SAD. The key is recognizing whether it’s a temporary or more permanent condition.
It’s also helpful to drag yourself from underneath your comforter and socialize more. Making the conscious decision to surround yourself with family and friends will help pull you out of your funk. One thing you do not want to do is hang out with a negative person because this will only make you miserable. Think of it like opposites attracting. Your cheerful friend can help pull you out of your negative disposition.
Helping Someone with SAD
If you’re out on a date with someone who seems out of sorts, try to salvage the date by remaining positive. If this isn’t your first date with them and you’ve had previous great experiences, chalk it up to a bad mood. It happens.
If you’re fully invested in understanding and helping your date, here are some tips to help pull him through.
- Don’t brush off your date so quickly. Instead, show concern by asking if they’re okay. It’s always good to know someone cares.
- Show compassion by giving them time to deal with their moodiness, but reassure them that they can give you a call when they’re ready.
- If you’re in a relationship, keep the sex life alive. If they aren’t interested in full-on intercourse, don’t get angry. SAD can make your sex drive plummet. However, you can still maintain a physical connection with flirting and touching. A physical relationship is not only based on sex. It can also include kissing and hand-holding.
- Encourage your partner to be active. Ask them if they’d like to help you hang some curtains or walk the dog. People suffering from SAD often prefer to sit and wallow in self-pity. Get them off the couch and keep their body, as well as their mind, busy.
- Start vacation plans today. Even if you don’t plan to go away for a few months, give them something to look forward to by planning a trip to a sunny location when the weather breaks. Even better is if you take that trip early in the winter months. If that’s not possible, simply planning can excite even the most depressed minds.
- Don’t brush it off; SAD is real. And if you ignore the symptoms, your partner may fall even deeper into depression. Instead, recognize the signs and do what you can to help.
- Resist condescending or playing therapist because that will only frustrate them more. Additionally, please don’t force your help on them. Instead, let them know you are there if they want to talk. However, if you feel your partner isn’t getting better, recommend seeing a therapist.
- Understand that whether through professional help or at-home self-care, SAD is treatable.
The Dating Scene: How Does it Change with the Season?
Customarily, when we think of a changing season, we tend to think of wardrobe changes. But did you know that a season change also sparks an adjustment in dating? Here are four seasons of dating you might not know about:
You may not have heard of the term “fielding season,” but yep, it’s a thing. Fielding Season occurs in the summer months and is known to be perfect for summer flings and dating competitions with friends. In other words, it’s quantity over quality. During this season, people are more sociable because of the endless events such as festivals and concerts. Dating apps are also more popular this season because people are eager to find some “fresh meat.”
Winterizing is when people delete all dating apps and hide indoors until Spring. This period occurs from late fall to late winter and happens after people are exhausted from Spring Fever. This is the opportunity to take a break from all the dating done in previous seasons and settle down with one person.
This is the time right after the colder months when the sun begins to make a daily appearance through the cold winter clouds. Temperatures start to warm up, and so does dating. During Spring Fever, people have lounged inside away from the cold, and now they feel energized to peek their heads out from under the warm covers and find a mate. With Spring comes a renewed possibility in the hunt.
Cuffing Season occurs from early fall to early winter. When fall is in full effect, with winter right around the corner, single people are in a hurry to find a person to seriously date to help them through the dreary, colder months. During this month, you may partner up with people who may not be suitable for you long-term but will do for the time being. Cuffing Season relationships never last very long.
The Season People Date Most
Recent data indicates that people are more likely to socialize during summer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are looking for relationships. It simply means people are looking for someone to have fun or hook up with.
The second best time for dating is Cuffing Season, which occurs from early fall to early winter. Again, this is because people rush to find someone to hang out with during the cold winter months. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean full-on relationships begin during these seasons. Instead, it means you found someone to hang out with until something better comes along, also widely known as a “hook up.”
On the opposite end of the dating scale, scientists have determined that December is the most popular month for a breakup, specifically December 11th. So if your partner starts acting bizarre between the 7th and 10th, know that a split may be just around the corner.
Reasons for breakups vary greatly, but one common explanation for winter splits is not wanting to spend the stressful holiday season with someone with whom we’re not wholly vested. Why bother introducing your current partner to your family and friends on Christmas if you’re still unsure of the relationship? Additionally, New Year’s signifies a new beginning and is not the time to spend with someone you’re planning on dumping.
The Hardest Season for a Relationship
Every relationship goes through hard times. Difficult times in a relationship vary and have little to do with seasons and more to do with timing. You’ll have arguments, frustrations, and disagreements any time of the year, but your relationship can still thrive.
7 Common Stages of a Relationship
- Intimacy: This stage is all about passion and the newness of love. You’re madly in love with your partner, and everything seems perfect. This is the attraction phase, thanks to dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, the love chemicals in the brain. This stage usually begins on your first date and lasts until your first big argument.
- Discovery: The Discover Stage is when you realize your partner’s bad habits and irritating quirks. During this stage, the intimacy and attraction slowly fade, and the love chemicals begin to dry up. At this point, you are discovering new things about your partner you haven’t witnessed before.
- Communication and Commitment: This is the stage where compromise begins. Your commitment to each other brings security and confidence. Unfortunately, this is also where you may become complacent and inadvertently take your partner for granted. Monotony and boredom arise in this stage.
- Control Struggle: This is when you decide who is taking the lead in the relationship. But is it necessary for someone to take the lead? Power struggles on who should make the decisions happen more often. This stage is where it’s imperative to respect each other’s decisions.
- Growth and Stability: At this point, you have already been through tough times, and now you have grown and have renewed stability. You are not only growing as a couple but also as individuals. Good news! This is a positive turning point in your relationship, but be careful of becoming too complacent.
- Mature Love: During this stage, you realize the difference between mature love and passion. While passion involves intimacy and attraction, mature love is more respect, security, and overcoming hard times.
- Crisis and Recovery: This is where a crisis (death, illness, money issues, or an affair) can occur at any time in your relationship. This is also the most challenging of all the stages and may strain your relationship. To get through this stage, you may need to seek the outside help of a therapist or a counselor. Relationships can be challenging to navigate, but when you find the right person willing to work with you during tough times, the obstacles are much easier to overcome. While outside factors might affect your relationship, the important takeaway is that you must have the love, respect, and understanding to work through it. Be patient. No relationship is perfect. Keep an open mind and take it day by day.