New Seasons, New Dating Trends: What Is 'Winter Coating'?
It's that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting lower and winter clothes are coming out. Chances are you've already pulled out your trusty, old winter coat. We've all got one. It's not your favorite piece of clothing, but you've worn it before and you know it's reliable. It may not "spark joy" à la Marie Kondo, but when it's cold, it keeps you warm. And when spring rolls around again, you'll probably toss it back into your closet to be forgotten again until next season.
While it's pretty normal to treat our winter coats with this level of sloppy neglect, most of us would probably agree that it would be wrong to treat a person so carelessly. However, this winter, it seems that more and more of us are adopting similar habits in our relationships. Welcome to the season of "winter coating."
What is winter coating, exactly?
According to new research by the Inner Circle dating app, this cuffing season is bringing a brand-new dangerous dating trend known as winter coating. The basic idea is that people have started to return to old relationships for the winter months, essentially using and then discarding an old partner like a winter coat.
According to Inner Circle, more than half of singles claim that a former flame has contacted them during the winter. However, more than 70 percent of these rekindled romances end up failing.
It seems that many of us are craving a comfortable relationship in the winter, but when summer rolls around again, we cast the relationship aside—just like a coat.
It's also easy to fall into a winter coat relationship.
"If someone is winter coating you, it might feel exciting to hear from them again," explained Inner Circle's in-house dating expert, Crystal Cansdale, of London. "They'll be steady and dependable through the winter and it might seem like they've changed. But when the first sign of spring comes around, history will repeat itself and they'll disappear into thin air. Winter coating takes toxic cuffing season behavior to a new level, and unless you're 100 percent on the same page as the other person, it has to stop."
Why is winter coating becoming so common?
From a psychological standpoint, our desire for a winter romance makes sense.
"Colder temperatures and darker nights make the prospect of a night out less enticing than during the hot summer months," Cansdale said.
There's a reason why people end up falling back into old relationships.
"Staying inside, bingeing Netflix and indulging in low-effort 'dating' means you can skip the exhausting getting-to-know-you phase and jump straight to the comfortable bit straight away," she said.
Apparently, this winter may be even worse for winter coating because dating is getting more expensive. In fact, 41 percent of singles are dating less because of money concerns.
"By going back to someone they previously dated, singles are able to skip the obligatory—but expensive—dinner dates and drinks, and go straight to a comfortable, cost-effective stage," Cansdale said.
Wait, am I being used like a relationship winter coat?
According to Cansdale, you should look out for these telltale signs of winter coating:
- An old flame who you haven't heard from all summer pops up out of the blue, looking to rekindle a romance.
- They move things along quickly. Winter coaters aren't in it for the long term, so they want to speed things along and get comfortable to make it worth their while.
- Low effort levels. Winter coaters want to keep the dates casual and uninventive. Think Netflix and chill or dinner at home. There's nothing wrong with this in itself, but watch out for old-married-couple behavior after just a few weeks.
If you think you're being winter coated, it's important to act before you get hurt. Begin by having an honest conversation.
"This will avoid any awkward crossed wires later down the line and it gives winter coaters the chance to be honest—with you and themselves," Cansdale said.
She also recommended proceeding with caution if an old flame suddenly contacts you.
"By taking things slow, you make sure your date is in it for the right reasons. Winter coaters will want to progress things quickly," she said. "They're only in it for a short time, so they need to make it worth their while. Let them prove they're in it for the right reasons."