Coupling up may not cure your winter blues and when you want a quick way out, you may retreat to snow storming. In this List article, Mindpath Health’s Kiana Shelton, LCSW, discusses why ending a cuffing season relationship by snow storming is not as helpful as you think.

woman and man in karmic relationship, laughing together on couch and floor in living room

Freezing weather, dark days, holiday stress — there are many reasons winter is most people’s least favorite season. One way to turn up the heat, even when it’s icy outside, is to get cozy with a new romantic partner. The phenomenon of coupling up during the winter, known as “cuffing season,” makes sense — you have a go-to person to kiss on New Year’s Eve, attend holiday parties with, and snuggle next to on cold days.

However, these relationships often come with an expiration date. As Kiana Shelton, a licensed clinical social worker and women’s health expert says, “Cuffing season falls in the category of ‘situationship.'” Though cuffing season relationships can last even after the ground has thawed, many are motivated by little more than short-term needs.

So what happens once a seasonal romance has run its course? Like with any situationship or dead-end relationship, you and your partner must decide how to make a clean break and move on amicably. One way to do this, without icing out the other person, is to practice “snow storming.”

What is snow storming?

A snow storm is a hallmark of long winters, and it might also be the perfect way to end a going-nowhere cuffing season romance. “Snow storming,” a term coined by the dating app Wingman, is the act of breaking free from a cuffing season attachment and starting over with a totally blank slate, per Stylist.

“A snow stormer won’t just let go of old flames and declutter their life of past toxic relationships, they actively ‘let go’ of their current relationship too,” said Tina Wilson, founder of Wingman. “Snow storming encourages people in relationships to make a drastic change, which per its name, is a turbulent reaction to the actions of the person wanting change and is characterized by upheaval and disorder.”

Snow storming can make a major statement, but that might be what you need to kick off a new year on the right foot and sever any ties that could hold you back. It also offers a chance for daters to “refine their standards and become firmer about what they will not put up with,” according to relationship coach and sexologist Suzannah Weiss. That way, you avoid settling for a relationship that never should’ve lasted beyond Valentine’s Day.

How to do it — and when you shouldn’t

Snow storming is an anti-ghosting trend that requires telling your significant other, clearly and succinctly, that your winter relationship is over. This can be easier said than done, but experts suggest ripping off the band-aid as soon as possible. “Dissolving the relationship in a way that’s a bit more abrupt makes sense because the emotional ties and the entanglements do not feel as strong,” Jess Carbino, a relationship sociologist, told Well+Good. She suggests keeping the breakup short and sweet — a text may even be appropriate — while delivering the news with kindness. That way, everyone’s on the same page, and minimal damage is done.

However, not everyone believes that snow storming is a healthy way to end a relationship. Kate Mansfield, a dating and relationship expert, says the abrupt technique should only be used in abusive or potentially dangerous situations. “It is selfish, reactive, and unhealthy to leave a relationship without communicating or trying to at least reflect on what didn’t work,” she says.

Gauge how close you and your partner grew during the cuffing season. If it was clear all along that the relationship was casual, a sudden “snow storm” may be sufficient. But, if you connected deeply and you feel safe facing them, consider having a longer, in-person chat with your significant other about your decision to split.

Read the full List article with sources. Want to learn more about your mental health? Visit our Patient Resources for articles, tips, and education from Mindpath Health’s expert clinicians.

Kiana Shelton, LCSW

Katy, TX

Kiana has over 12 years of experience working with adults. Using person-centered and trauma-informed modalities, Kiana helps patients navigate major life transitions, including birth, adoption, grief, and loss. In addition, she also provides gender-affirming mental health care to those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Following Maya Angelou’s quote: “Still I rise,” Kiana uses this as a reminder ... Read Full Bio »

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