According to the dating app Hinge, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke with the company to discuss “COVID and cuffing season.”
“Relationships are as important as ever, and that includes our romantic relationships,” tweeted Dr. Murthy. “Grateful to [Hinge] for this conversation on how we can make dating safer during the pandemic.”
“Worried about COVID and cuffing season?” tweeted Hinge. “We asked the [Surgeon General] how to navigate everything from the first kiss to the real talk.”
“Cuffing season” refers to the period between October and March when singles ramp up their search for a significant other in order to increase their chances of spending the end of the year holidays, like Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day, with a partner. Esquire magazine designates “cuffing season,” “as the time of year when people couple off to combat the cold and loneliness. When parsed down, it is simply a social construct, partly manufactured from holiday stress and partly biological, that pushes single people into relationships for the winter months.”
The use of the word “cuff” references handcuffs, but is slang in the same vein as ‘hooking up’ or ‘getting hitched.’”
Relationships are as important as ever, and that includes our romantic relationships. Grateful to @hinge for this conversation on how we can make dating safer during the pandemic. https://t.co/mlAcUj9zzO
— Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) October 19, 2021
“Hinge and the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, have teamed up to help singles date this fall,” announced Hinge on their website. “From pandemic-friendly dates to navigating the first kiss, Dr. Murthy answered the biggest questions around pandemic dating.”
“With his advice in mind, Hinge also unveiled the 10 tips to have your best cuffing season this year,” Hinge added.
These tips are as follows:
- Get On The App: Dating apps are the most common way to meet someone. And with the rise of pandemic-driven loneliness, they’ve become even more useful. 55% of people on Hinge say talking with people outside of their usual community helps them fight feelings of isolation.
- Establish The Connection: Your best chance at hearing back from a match on Hinge is by chatting in the first 24 hours. To get past the small talk, you can ask questions like “What’s something that makes you lose track of time?” or, “What’s your go-to, pump-up song?”
- Upload Your Vax Status: We all appreciate transparency. Plus, Hinge daters who have “vaccinated” displayed on their profile receive 30% more matches.
- Get To The Date: At Hinge, we’ve found the messaging sweet spot is four to five days of chatting before you initiate the date. This gives you enough time to build trust, but not so long that the momentum drops off. A good transition from texting to a date is “I’m really enjoying this conversation. Want to continue it on a date Sunday afternoon?”
- Set Expectations: You should never feel pressured to do anything you’re not comfortable with, and COVID-19 consent is no different. Use COVID-19 safety as an opportunity to make your expectations and boundaries clear from the start. Be respectful in the conversation and ask open-ended questions to hear their thoughts.
- Try a Video Date First: When in-person feels like too much, video dates can be a safe, low-pressure way to get a compatibility gut check. You can always mix it up by doing something new, like a virtual cocktail (or mocktail) class or trying Hinge’s in-app Video Prompts to explore topics you might not have on your own.
- Take Things Outdoors: Once you’ve had a couple of video dates, set up a date outside after confirming you’re both comfortable with meeting in person. Whenever possible, being in outdoor settings reduces the risk of transmission. Look into activities that you can do outside such as hikes or restaurants with heated patios.
- Tell First, Kiss Second: Not knowing someone’s COVID-19 status can make opening up physically stressful. Getting tested as close as possible to the time you meet up and sharing the results frees up that emotional space and keeps everyone safer — a win-win.
- Temperature Check: You should make sure you’re feeling your best before going on a date in person. If you’re feeling sick before a date, postpone it. Even though your date may be disappointed, they’ll appreciate you taking steps to protect their health.
- Ignore the pressure: Everyone’s comfort levels will be different — they may even change day to day. Before you do anything, check in with yourself (and the World Health Organization guidelines!) to make sure you’re making the right decision for yourself.
Health departments have given advice on “hooking up” with COVID-19 in mind throughout the pandemic, but this marks the first time the Biden administration has weighed in so heavily on the subject.