A year after its initial launch at McMaster, the Aphrodite Project returns with updated changes
In 2021, an initiative known as the Aphrodite Project was introduced to McMaster University as a way of fostering community by helping students match with a potential romantic partner or platonic friend. Students would answer a number of questions and an algorithm would match them based on their responses.
The project has returned to McMaster on Jan. 24, 2022.
Maya Bozzo-Rey, the lead project manager at McMaster who is also a second-year honours biology student, explained that the project has become rather well known within the McMaster community. Many students have inquired about its return on Reddit and other similar platforms and Bozzo-Rey believes that the project adds a layer of community.
“It just adds a sense of community, especially now, because we’re all at home and online and it’s hard to meet new people, so it’s just nice to even find a friend,” said Bozzo-Rey.
Last year, the algorithm that is claimed to be used has been critiqued heavily by many as the type to heavily favour one sex as opposed to the other.
However, Bozzo-Rey said that the project has come quite far since last year. Even if last year had not turned out how one would’ve wanted, this year could go better.
Angelina Zhang, a second-year honours sensory-motors student, shared her own experiences with the Aphrodite Project. She participated last year and was paired with someone who she is now friends with. She had gone in hoping to have a romantic match, but explained that the friendship she gained was just as nice.
Zhang shared that the project’s questionnaire section about what personal beliefs mattered to her the most made her need to step back and evaluate. She shared how these kinds of questions aren’t as common on more popular dating apps that have traditionally prioritized physical attributes.
“There are a lot of questions that ask you about your values, like what aspects of life you value the most. I think that’s a pretty interesting choice of questions because I feel like when we actually assess our relationships in real life, we don’t always think about that a lot,” said Zhang.
Between the previous and current year there have been updates to the Aphrodite project interface. One key change is the profile section on the page. Students can now add a profile photo and information that would be emailed to matches can now all be seen on their profile page.
Jessica Cui, a member of the marketing and communications team for the project and second-year student at Waterloo University, explained that this was meant to make the site a little more interactive.
“I think overall, we want to make it more interactive and so you can know a little bit more about your match before you speak with them. So, like adding a picture, I think it shows more personality and then maybe even a conversation starter,” said Cui.
As someone who opted to participate once again in the Aphrodite project, Zhang talked about her thoughts regarding the new additions to the interface.
She isn’t sure if the addition of a profile picture is absolutely necessary, considering that to her the main strength of this project was the questions themselves. She wonders if biases may present themselves because of this, stopping a potentially great match from occurring.
Finally, she discussed that, to her, it’s hard to really say if the McMaster community is brought together for the best when looking at this project. She says that, at the end of the day, it is simply more dependent on who one is matched with.
“I would say it depends on who you are matched up with, I guess . . . I think it’s pretty cool if you get matched up with someone that you kind of vibe with . . . It’s like even if you don’t end up dating them, you feel like you gained a new friend. However, I know that some people did not have a super great experience with their match for different reasons,” said Zhang.
Overall, students at McMaster, like Zhang, find themselves with the option to try and see if this project is what they need to form connections. As the years continue, it will be interesting to see how projects like the Aphrodite Project pan out and if they will continue to garner the same level of student interest annually.
C/O Markus Winkler, Unsplash
How social media has tampered with our perceptions of love and relationships
By: Ana Mamula, Contributor
Rom-coms are my favorite, especially The Notebook. I couldn’t even fathom a man writing me a letter every single day until we meet again, a man who would wait his whole life for me. Today, love is if he likes your Instagram picture, slides into your DMs and is your number one friend on Snapchat.
It’s matching on Tinder with strangers hoping for that Notebook kind of love. However, in actuality, love this way is superficial and impossible.. Love is non-existent today. Love is transactional; it's a like, a comment or a FaceTime. It’s getting jealous over your significant other liking another person’s picture, it’s cheating coming in so many different forms and becoming so accessible.
I hate it.
Love has turned into lust. Today, we are just focused on physical attraction rather than having a genuine relationship. Hookup culture is the norm and seeing someone just for their appearance is the norm due to social media. As a result of the media uprise, men and women have lost the acceptance of themselves today and feel they must live up to society’s expectations.
And maybe that's why I love rom-coms so much, and why girls love rom-coms so much. Rom-coms liberate us from regular concerns and dump us straight into that beautiful space, a fantasy featuring no real responsibility or risk.
Then we have social media that dumps us into a space full of anxiety, jealousy, low self-esteem and so much more. It is so rare to actually meet someone out and about and just click and then start dating. Nowadays, a swipe right is all it takes. Individuals do not even look for relationships anymore. It starts and ends with a hookup and if it escalates into a relationship, well you’re in luck!
Social media has created such a toxic space for relationships that bring out the worst in us. Jealousy and self-esteem issues are on the rise and the accessibility to cheat is so much more pronounced. With Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, webcams and other such social media platforms, partners can carry on affairs from the comfort of their couch, illuminated by the light of their computer or smartphone screen.
Social media is meant to highlight the best parts of one’s life, including the positive aspects of their relationships. This restrictive positivity does not allow for a person’s negative aspects to be brought to the light until we get to know someone. We never truly know how someone is or what someone’s relationship is like until we see it in person.
All of these false representations of love, from rom-coms to modern dating on social media, make it difficult to understand what a relationship should look like due to our clouded judgments. The media has shown us such an unrealistic standard of love that we do not even know what to believe anymore — and that is scary to me.
What even is love anymore?
By: Alannah DeAngelis, Contributor
Dates can be a fun way to get to know your partner better and try new things together. Between school, catching up on all your Netflix shows and hanging out with your friends, it can be tough to make time for date nights. Try out these five date ideas where you can stay on campus and avoid breaking the bank!
The W. J. McCallion Planetarium, in the basement of BSB, is an out-of-this world date idea! Shows run Wednesday nights and there is a new theme each week. Learn about outer space, stars, planets, comets and more. For more information, check out the McMaster Planetarium website.
Cost: $7 per person.
Video Game Room in Lyons New Media Centre
Get your game on in the Video Games room on the 4th floor of Mills to find out which of you is the “Mario Kart” champion! There are five game consoles that you can choose from: Wii, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4. They offer many games to play, all of which are available to rent for free. Bookings for this space can be made for up to 2 hours per day for all McMaster students.
Cost: Free! Just bring your student card to rent the controllers and games.
McMaster Museum of Art
Check out some cool art with your partner at the McMaster Museum of Art right on campus. The museum is recognized internationally for its European paintings, drawings and prints. It is also known for its specialist collection of early 20th century German prints. This highly notable museum is just steps away from the Student Centre.
Cost: Pay what you can (suggested donation is $2).
Trivia Night at the Phoenix
Test your knowledge at the Phoenix Bar and Grill’s Trivia Night, which happens every Tuesday at 7 p.m.. The theme changes each week, so you are sure to never be bored. Top teams will win gift cards to the Phoenix; perfect to use for another date night!
Cost: Free when you purchase food or drinks.
Hike at Cootes
McMaster is surrounded by beautiful hiking trails with breathtaking views. Go for a hike at Cootes (start at the trail behind the Alpine tower) and explore what nature has to offer in McMaster’s backyard. Notably, the Sassafrass trail includes a lookout platform onto Lake Ontario. Who knows, maybe you will even see some deer along the way!
Twenty. That's how many weddings I shot in 2018 as a wedding filmmaker, and that's how many couples I've witnessed embark in the romantic tradition of love through ceremonial spectacle. As Aristotle puts it, love that is "composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
But what stems from this poetic union of two perfect swipes matches? A spiritual bliss? Unconditional passion? A fulfilled soul? Maybe. But there is a definite partner in crime to romantic love we all need to control: ego.
Not the Freudian ego, but that Kanye ego. You see it in films, you hear it in music and you feel your eyes rolling back when your lab partner urges you to believe that they "meet the perfect criteria" for their Friday-night-fling. Or better yet, the heavenly Friday-night-fling "fits all my checkboxes."
This is only the bark of the evergreen ego, which we can define using author Ryan Holiday's definition as an "unhealthy belief in our own importance” found in his book Ego Is the Enemy. This is synonymous with arrogance, vanity and of course, Kanye.
The ego in love inflates our own level of significance, while at the same time projecting ambitious standards for another to meet. With this principle narcissism, we begin to see the clinging relationship of ego with "romantic love" — which we can describe through the wisdom of Alain de Botton as a lifelong passion of unconditional affection, monogamous sex of the deepest expressions, independent of any logical reasoning and relying only on instinctual emotions and feelings.
Take that in — romantic love lives solely on emotion without logic. To the casual reader, these childish thoughts may seem obvious, but reflecting deeper, we begin to see signs within ourselves and our closest circle. We must control this. Let's take a look throughout your life.
Going back to where this all began, childhood is where we first experienced love. Most can associate child affection with a loving authority. Whether we called them our parent, sibling, relative, or neighbour, we needed them. The attachment theory research of John Bowlby throughout the 1900's, followed by Prof. Sue Johnson's couples therapy research today, brings sound evidence for our dependence on others. When we screamed for food, we got it. When we cried to be held, we got it. When we laughed for playtime, we got it. This is a good thing. Relying on others is the fundamental reason our species has survived millennia. The downside is in its longevity and growth through life.
Yes, we need others in life, and yes, our deepest instinct is to seek attachment, as outlined by Prof. Johnson, but the feedback loop of the Ariana Grande-esque "I want it, I got it" is the root that sprouts the dark ego of romance. Getting things as children paves the way for this underlying principle of romantic love: When we want something, we'll find a way to get it.
Which brings us to the next step of the growing ego in love. Found in puberty, high school, college or university, new experiences with decreased micromanagement and guidance. This is when the ego begins to experiment. Our claustrophobic wants begin to explore outside the supervised home and seeks easier ways to be watered. Whether through becoming captain of the volleyball team, taking the alto sax solo in band and most notably, finding a significant other to seek love and affection from.
This is also the point where ego meets romance. Our idea of love at this time is heavily influenced by the media, family and friends, and I'm willing to bet they all follow the blueprint of romantic love defined above. The fairytale love. The princess and prince charming love.
The budding ego spreads its roots and leaves into new terrain, searching for nourishment through this angelic and socially-acceptable soil called romance. This fair ground is for taking, stemming from it the seedling motto of “doing it because you want it” which only leads to the growth of our selfish plant called ego.
This is when our ego blooms the biggest, taking our primal egotistic need for affection and mixing it with the socially-acceptable irrationality of love. It almost becomes Machiavellian in the way it finds love.
Robert Greene, author of The Laws Of Human Nature, highlights a few archetypes of the folly relationship: the victim types that need saving, the saviour types to save victims, the devilish romantics of seduction, the image of perfection that never comes to fruition and the straight-up "they'll worship my ego indefinitely and unconditionally because of who I am" type.
Nowhere near complete, these types in relationships are ever-present. They may not come to mind right away when we think of romance, but when we look deeply at traditional love stories, the Romeos and Juliettes, the Snow Whites and Prince Charmings, there they are. And when we look beside us, there they are.
Is this a bad thing? Aristotle once said that to fix the warped curvature of wood, one must apply pressure in the opposite direction. And I do believe that regulating our growth should be at the forefront of any visionary. But is this subjective idea of "true love" really a disservice to our growing forest of human interaction?
Yes, I do believe this traditional view of love has well overstayed its visit. Especially with our cultural shift towards individuality and independence. And the first step to grow with the grain is understanding and loosening our ego.
For better or for worse, it's our ego trying to keep up with the Kardashians Joneses in love. But they're not you, and only you know what climate is best to grow love. Not Disney, not the latest country ballad and not the many wedding films found online. There are 7.4B definitions of love, and we need to rid our ego of any unexamined soil.
This means stop assuming that relationships are the norm. Stop associating sex with love. Logical thinking can be just as divine as cupid's arrow. You don't need to love everything about someone to love them. Arguments are arguments, and not signs from a higher power. We can't put full responsibility on another to complete ourselves. And above all, it doesn't make you any less of a person to love someone.
Let go the ego to let love grow.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="233" gal_title="Love in Maroon 1"]
When Rachel Woock was in her first year at McMaster, she immediately fell for Matt Quiring. The tall blonde basketball player was on her mind for quite some time but like most men, Quiring was too oblivious to notice. Putting her feelings aside, the two remained friends for a while until a falling out stopped them from speaking to each other for a month. It was not until the men’s volleyball North American Challenge last year that they broke their silence and put aside their differences. A month later the two started dating and the pair has been inseparable ever since. Part of what makes them work as a couple is being student-athletes. Being able to understand where the other is coming from because they both play a sport where such a strong team component has been key in their relationship. Another thing that has kept them together is their faith. As Christians, figuring out that they were on the same level spiritually has been really encouraging for the couple. When asked what advice they would give other student-athletes in relationships, they encourage them to be vulnerable. Frustrated after a loss? Let the other know, so it does not affect your relationship. Accepting who the other is but also being willing to change as they grow, is all part of what makes this couple work.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="231" gal_title="Love in Maroon 2"]
Starting off as friends in their first year, Steph Roberts and Anthony Bontorin would always see each other on residence, at the gym and around campus. It was during the summer of second year when the two both stayed in Hamilton that they began to hang out more seriously and eventually became official. The two bonded over their sports and being able to understand each other's schedules as student-athletes. Although Bontorin suffered from an injury that has prevented him from playing, he is still a huge part of the men’s football team and is often just as busy as Roberts. Despite their schedules, the two make time for each other and support one another. Roberts even credits Bontorin’s role in supporting her during her breakout year a big part of her success. Being with someone who knows exactly what being a student-athlete entails is something the couple cherishes. With sports being a year-long and time-consuming commitment, both Bontorin and Roberts are happy they have found each other in the process.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="229" gal_title="Love in Maroon 3"]
The first time Jay Anyimadu and Krystal Henry-Mathieu met each other, they were both Marauders receiving treatment after getting injured playing their sport. They saw each other for three weeks while at treatment, but that was all. Fast-forward to last year, when Henry-Mathieu replied to Anyimadu’s Instagram story, he kept the conversation going and they soon realized how much they had in common. The two no longer played for the school, as Henry-Mathieu had a career-ending injury and Anyimadu had moved on the Junior Canadian Football League, but their student-athlete mindset remained the same. Although she is retired, Henry-Mathieu was one of the few people who he could relate to. This past fall during his first season with the Junior CFL, Anyimadu was named Defensive All-Canadian and his team, the Hamilton Hurricanes, were named the Ontario champions. Through it all, Henry-Mathieu was right by his side cheering him on, even when it was cold, because not only does she love the sport, but the things that make him happy, make her happy.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="223" gal_title="SATSC Kyle West"]
This photography series was inspired by comparing classic symbolism of unity and strength with consideration to the themes of Sex and the Steel City. Across the world and throughout many diverse culture, the symbol of holding hands can be seen to communicate intimacy or a close relationship.
Taking this symbol and empowering it through strong vertical compositional choices lend the viewer to perceive these couples and their love as prevailing. The stylistic choices are a nod towards the strength and monumentality of the landscape work of Ansel Adams and the influential portraiture of Platon. Ultimately, Come Together is a story of love, unity and partnership and my best ability to document this.
Kyle West is a Hamilton-based photographer. He is in his final year of art history at McMaster University and is currently the Photo Editor for the Silhouette. West has developed a particular interest in portraiture over the years, often times turning to digital and film photography to capture his subjects in a beautiful light. From perfectly timed scenes of bustling city streets on film to carefully composed landscapes and journalistic endeavours, West also utilizes his photography as a means for storytelling.
This digital drawing entitled “Shower Scene” explores ideas and themes of intimacy that are typically uncomfortable for individuals to openly discuss.
Sex and sexuality are often unnecessarily forbidden topics that need to be reimagined as natural and normal.
Through this piece, sexuality is explored and depicted as natural, normal and familiar.
Simple lines and colours along with a minimalistic look are used to enhance the idea of intimacy as a normal and acceptable human experience.
Erin Nantais is a fourth year multimedia student at McMaster University. She typically works with photography and graphic design. Her personal style of work emphasizes strong lines and simple colour schemes to create a distinctive digital feel. Creative portraiture and animal photography are main sources of inspiration for most of Nantais’ work. Nantais has always been interested in art and photography and through her work she’s found a digital style that incorporates elements of both.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="221" gal_title="SATSC Jet"]
Jet’s artistic process relies heavily on research into my chosen focus. It starts with the inquiry: “I want to understand more about…” as they then experiment with different mediums until they find the right material and presentation of their idea. Visualization is the key to their process where they push the boundaries of my idea and test as many possibilities as they can. When the piece is ready for an audience, Jet prefers the audience takes part in the outcome of the work itself.
Jet works mainly with performance, video, sculpture, photography and painting. They try not to ever limit myself to one medium. Jet encounters ideas that seem to float in the air and works with them, listens to them, becomes them and finds the best method to allow the work to exist in harmony with the audience.
Jet’s practice often explores the human body in all of its physical and ethereal elements. Throughout their life they have always made space for themselves to imagine and work out complex issues. This gives them the head space to create and transform what is not yet physical into a tangible piece.
Jet is a multidisciplinary artist who emigrated from Mexico in 2009. They grew up feeling that they didn’t always belong. Social norms, family, friends, peers, the state, and especially an oppressive culture of dominance, sought to limit the creativity of their soul. Now their work reflects a rebirth of expression, and the power of the artist’s will to transform the unseen beauty that surrounds them.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="225" gal_title="SATSC Cait Gautron"]
In her first piece, Eviscerate (3016), in using fruit to mirror anatomy Cait Gautron was seeking to question ideas of ripeness and primacy in media surrounding sex. Shadowing the piece are ideas of destruction and decay. With these characteristics she playfully seeks to evoke viscera while using approximate substitutes to create a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere.
Coercion (2018), oil on canvas. With this work, Gautron seeks to raise issues around social and institutional factors which motivate consent and the fear felt by participants who may unknowingly fall in to the role of perpetrator or victim.
In oil paints Gautron seeks to explore the delicate balance between desire and disgust, growth and decay, inherit in human anatomy. Raised by an artist mother, the majority of her early artistic education came from exploring the galleries and museums of Europe in her early teens. In that time she became enamoured with the lustre of Vermeer’s still lifes and the contortion of Schielle’s portraits. Currently enrolled in her second year of McMaster University’s studio arts program, Gautron has just began to show her work around Hamilton and Ontario.
Kayla Da Silva
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="227" gal_title="SATSC Kaylita"]
or nothing at all.
It’s 11:07 am.
You check your phone.
For a moment
you can’t breathe
and then breathing
happens all at once.
Too fast. Too frequent.
in the depths of your mind
and anxiety holds
you by the throat.
It’s 9:27 pm.
You ask them to choose you,
but they show you
they never will.
Over and over again.
You knew all along
this was going
The red flags
but they were in
your blind spot.
You are accompanied
by your old friend,
You are enveloped
and gently embraced
by the solace of truth.
you have to choose if
you want to pick
or the rose
or nothing at all.
The artwork accompanied by the poetry is meant as a reflection of relationships that are emotionally damaging. More times than never, an individual in the relationship may not be aware of how complicated the situations were until leaving them.
The series is meant to highlight the mental turmoil an individual can experience when the pattern of behaviours from a partner negatively impacts their state of mind. When being in a complicated relationship, it can often lead to an internal conflict when they are in-love with their partner.
The difficult question is; how long can one hold on to what appears to be a rose when the thorns cause trauma? A partner should never put you in a position where you need to routinely put your wellbeing at risk.
Kayla Da Silva, also known as Kaylita, is a creative and a designer. She has found her poetry to be a suitable companion to the visuals she creates. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in multimedia and communications from McMaster University and currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario working full-time as a junior graphic designer.
CW: Disordered eating
For me, sex and food have always had their limbs awkwardly intermingled (in a no eye contact Grindr hookup sort of way). I know what you’re thinking: “how deep, bananas look like dicks and I’m entirely enthused and kind of turned on.” Yet, the story of this photograph is really one of inner turmoil, anguish and ultimately resistance. The food/fuck correlation, as I call it, has lingered like an unwanted houseguest in my head for quite some time now. It goes something like this: the less sex I’m having the less I feel I’m allowed to eat. In times of plentiful or at least grandiose sexual conquest, I can take a breath… or, a bite I guess. The logic is as desperate as it is simple. If I’m not getting laid, I better stop snacking and start looking like a snack. The food/fuck correlation not only problematically frames sex as some prize for me to win, it also leads me through disorderly cycles of eating. It’s all too easy for the things I did or didn’t eat to change my self-perceived body image.
This self portrait is meant to picture the undying torment food puts me through. Putting a voice to this struggle challenges the hegemonic belief that men, those wonderful, tenacious beasts, could never develop eating disorders. The photo challenges the societally constructed ideal of a man who is too tough to feel pain. Inability to conform to this ideal can strip one of his own masculinity. As men the borders of our gendered and sexual identities are constantly under scrutiny by our peers. For most, it’s far easier to conform by reproducing masculinity however they see possible. As a result, men are taught that being normal means never being vulnerable. Expressions of masculine insecurity like my food/fuck anxiety are constantly pushed to the margins of society. I say fuck that. Through this photo I proudly shout: I am a man, I have feelings, sometimes I feel insecure, but here I am. And hey, I bet you’d still fuck me.
Matty Flader is an emerging artist based in Hamilton, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to art projects, with a specialization in portrait photography. Flader’s work concerns a broad range of topics, including gender performance, eating abnormality and responses to current events. He often challenges difficult ideas through a humourous lens in attempt to bring attention to the absurdity of this world.
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Dear (insert name),
I didn’t believe in love at first sight until I saw you on Tinder. Unlike the twenty-or-so good-looking people I had swiped right before you, I felt butterflies in my stomach when I came across your selfie. Something felt different. Although I’m unsure whether this odd feeling in my stomach was because of you or because of my strict fresh-pressed juice diet, I knew from the get-go that you were special. Now, two weeks since I sent you that coy greeting on Tinder, I am so happy to say that you’re the first person I call when I feel like hooking-up. It’s scary for me to say this but … you’re my main hang.
Looking back, our first date feels as though it was just yesterday. I remember feeling lonely after making gluten-free pain au chocolate at the local café that day. After my then-main hang failed to respond to my text, I decided to hit you up instead. To my content, you responded promptly to my proposition of Netflix and Chill. You took my breath away when you opened the door to your apartment; the interior was so familiar that I thought I might have hooked-up with your roommate before. Thankfully, the similar decor was just a coincidence. I want you to know how much I still think about that day. It was so good – the “chill” part, that is.
I’m so happy to be in a low-key, casual, non-committal partnership with you. It’s amazing to be with someone on the same wavelength. We’re both smart, progressive people. Unlike those who opt for traditional dating and committed relationships, we consider cost-benefit analyses and the low risk, low investment model of hooking up. With the Canadian dollar at the lowest it has ever been, it is imperative for people to be more financially conscious. Can you imagine being someone whose idea of a date is dinner and a movie? The cost-benefit of that scenario is so skewed, not to mention how much time that date would take up. All we do is buy someone a drink at the club and bam-shabam! We’ve sealed the deal. The cost of our “dates” is one drink and maybe an hour at the club, followed by a night of fiscally responsible hooking up. I cannot imagine life any other way, and I am so glad you feel the same. We are definitely what people mean when they say, “meant to be.”
Stability is so overrated. We both want freedom, we want excitement, we want new. And can you imagine the FOMO you’d have otherwise? There is a never-ending stream of singles to choose from. I cannot imagine being with one person for a long time rather than cycling through lots of suitors quickly. That sounds so stagnant. But I’m so glad I’m at this temporary pause with you. You are the perfect person to be temporarily stagnant with.
I know we’re not, like, together or anything but it felt weird to just not say anything so I’m writing you this letter as an indication of how much I enjoy your companionship. There is nobody else I’d rather lie in bed and look at my phone next to at this moment. It’s like I was playing a game of darts at the new craft-beer-exclusive pub down the street; I kept throwing darts and eventually one stuck. That dart is you. You stuck. I can’t see you becoming unstuck anytime soon. Would it be optimistic of me to say that I can still see us together at the end of next week? I know that’s a long time, but that just goes to show how special you are to me. None of the other people I’m flirting and hooking up with right now make me feel the way that you do. I hope that makes you feel special.
This letter really isn’t a big deal and it doesn’t have to mean anything if you don’t want it to, obviously. I’m having a great time just being what we are right now. (Do you want something though? I’m totally open to whatever. It’s chill. I’m cool. If you do though, shoot me a text and let me know. If you don’t, you know. Whatever.)
Anyhow, swiping right on you was the best decision I’ve ever made. Happy Valentine’s Day.
(insert your name)
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Does it seem like everyone is getting into relationships these days? You may be witnessing the social phenomenon referred to as “cuffing season.” SHEC is here to answer questions you never thought to ask.
What in the world is cuffing season?
“Cuffing” describes the supposed biological urge to find romantic or sexual partners (or both) when the autumn season commences. The intention is to “cuff” a companion to stay with throughout the upcoming winter months.
Is it real?
On its face, the theory does seem reasonable — as days get shorter and leaves begin to fall, the autumn season can put a damper on the fun and carelessness of summertime. Some may feel lonely on increasingly dark nights and seek the company of a special someone. Why wouldn’t we seek out the company and closeness of others with the impending frigidity of a Canadian winter? In fact, a study in the journal Emotion published in 2011 purported that humans associated colder temperatures with increased loneliness and solitude. Nonetheless, cuffing season remains to be verified as a real, scientifically based theory.
What biological reasons can explain the phenomenon of cuffing season?
It can likely be explained from an evolutionary perspective. Since the term “cuffing season” does not sound very scientific, and no research has been done on the subject, I can only invent an argument to explain it. For example, it would surely be advantageous for a primate to share body heat with a partner in the cold fall and winter months.
Those are interesting physiological theories. Are there any possible strategic explanations?
Yes, certainly. A relationship may facilitate the acquisition of resources, mainly food that the couple can share. Also, going on romantic dates might mitigate the effects of the oncoming Seasonal Affective Disorder that results from the bad weather.
But really, how healthy are relationships, with two people drawn together by the cold?
I would not jump to the conclusion that these relationships are necessarily unhealthy. Every relationship has a unique starting point or a trigger, some more romantic and perhaps warmer than others. However, to the individuals who are feeling the desire for some warm romantic cuddles, I would proceed with caution. Be honest — first to yourself and then to your potential cuff mate — about what you want out of this relationship. Perhaps a good test to see if you’ve fallen into the cuffing trap is to ask yourself if you would want the same relationship in the summer. Once successfully cuffed, make sure to check in with your partner every so often to ensure everyone is still on the same blanket, especially as the days get warmer. A last word of advice for those feeling colder and lonelier as the days get longer and darker: friends can offer some lovely cuddling benefits too, without the risk of heartbreak!
Photo Credit: Arno Burgi/Getty Images