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When the folks at dating app WooPlus sent an email with “Seasonal Dating Disorder” in the title, I raised an eyebrow. We have eating disorders, exercise disorders, bipolar disorders, sleep disorders, personality disorders, body dysmorphia disorder, and now a dating disorder. I’m married but couldn’t help but wonder what this is all about…
WooPlus (a dating app for plus-size women) noticed a 30% surge in male subscribers during November. The executives got curious and decided to survey their female subscribers to get more insights. What they learned was surprising to me: Many women stated that they draw more admirers during cold weather only to be dumped and left heart-broken come spring time.
“Seasonal Dating Disorder seems to be another obstacle plus-sized ladies must deal with in today’s relationship environment,” said WooPlus co-founder Michelle Li. “Sadly, at this festive time of year, we feel it necessary to put out a warning… We are constantly identifying new ways to watch out for our members and keep them informed on matters of relationships, lifestyle, and dating.”
It is one more thing to add to the list of dating challenges not just for plus-size women but for anyone in the dating pool.
What is Seasonal Dating Disorder?
SDD is linked to a rise in melatonin in cold weather, which triggers a slower pace and a preference for snuggling at home, Li said. “SDD clearly has a biological basis.” Though the disorder is not a yet classified as an official medical disorder that I’ve found, it’s certainly a phenomenon.
One WooPlus survey respondent named Ashley shared a personal story of SDD. She met a man and enjoyed an intimate winter relationship. When spring rolled around, his feelings cooled and he took off. “That’s happened quite a lot,” Ashly said in the survey. “As soon as winter is over they show their true face. Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling of getting ripped off.”
This may not be a new phenomenon but the patterns are recently coming to light in both female and male-centric media thanks to the behavior and feedback that technology enables us to analyze.
Can It Affect Me?
The Independent’s article on SDD focused on it affecting millennials, both male and female claiming to have symptoms. And your pant size doesn’t necessarily matter– so let’s just assume that age doesn’t really matter either. People who are unable to commit come in all shapes, sizes, and age groups. Women and men are, after all, waiting longer and longer to get married– if at all. With the stigma of pre-marital sex waning, singles more openly engage in sex. There are more singles in the younger demographic, so it stands to reason that seasonal mating, as I’ll refer to it, may appear more prevalent.
The casual term for seasonal hook ups is “drafting” (we need to add that to SheSpark’s Dating Dictionary). The season itself has earned the name “Cuffing Season.” But when does drafting become a disorder? Bolde.com lists 14 symptoms of Seasonal Dating Disorder that can help you determine if you have SDD. The main indicator is the feeling of needing a partner during cold months but then feeling trapped in the relationship come springtime and heading for the hills every year for three years or more. IOW, it’s chronic.
Is It Really A Disorder or Something Else?
I checked Merriam-Webster dictionary and it defines a disorder as “an abnormal physical or mental condition.” So, what if chronic seasonal mating isn’t abnormal but is merely biological? If the increased need for intimacy occurs due to a naturally-occurring rise in melatonin, that doesn’t sound abnormal. Could it be a natural behavior that is is associated with dating because married couples don’t divorce every time they’ve lost that loving feeling?
Here are some numbers that lead me to believe seasonal mating is not abnormal:
— March is the month that couples are most likely to divorce or file for divorce. (The Atlantic)
— Facebook data shows that people are more likely to change their relationship status to “single” during summer months. (BusinessInsider.com)
— One study shows that physical coldness increases the need for psychological warmth, yielding the need for romance and sex. (MedicalDaily.com)
— North America’s most popular birth months are historically August and September with February being the least popular. So parents are getting it on more when it’s cold. (LifeScience.com) What could ruin the seasonal theory is that Australia has similar birthing stats. Maybe it’s the excessive holiday cheer that’s a big influence.
Whatever the biological or psychological influences, it doesn’t look like seasonal relationships are going away. If you recently started dating someone and things start to cool off come warmer weather, “It’s not you, it’s me” may take on a whole new meaning. The important thing is to prepare yourself mentally and be able to move on in a healthy way. Tristan Coopersmith wrote a fantastic article for SheKnows.com called “How to Survive All 7 Stages of a Brutal Breakup.” It’s a great place to start.
Thea Wood is cofounder of SheSpark and a professional image consultant. She’s the author of “Socially Smart & Savvy,” a public speaker, and lover of live music. Find out more at TheaWood.com.
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