Is it worth texting your ex during Covid “cuffing” season?
By Eleanor Turner
Some things to ponder as you sit in your pyjamas trying to remember your ex’s eye colour.
You might not have heard of “cuffing” before. When I first heard it I thought it was a variation on fisting. It’s not. The term "cuffing season" entered Urban Dictionary in 2011. It’s derived literally from the idea of being handcuffed to someone. I don’t think this is meant in a kinky way but more a kind of emotional and physical attachment to get you through winter. Unfortunately, our Corona time in tiers (and tears) - with 34 million of us now in tier three - has coincided with cuffing season creating…. Cuffona Season, if you will. This dangerous concoction of forced isolation and cosy / winter / christmas / cottage-core / sickening Tik-Tok videos of teenage couples vibes might present you with the illusion that texting your ex is a fun idea. A harmless bit of distraction. A kooky joke! Sounds infectious, or should I say InfEXctious.
So, before you hit send (or before you hit send for the 8th time) here are some things to consider about partaking in this year’s Covid “cuffing” season...
What in Goddess' name do I want to get out of this?
Are you hoping for a post-lockdown sex reunion? A Distraction? Sexting? Love? To restart the relationship? Affirmation? Attention? To make them jealous?
It’s going to be different for everybody, but really think through the possibly illusive reasons behind your desire to text your ex. Be honest with yourself. Don’t lie to your conscious with BS like “I just want attention, I don’t care if she doesn’t message back!” when even the soft toys in your room know you’ll be an anxious sad mess for three days after being ignored.
I’m sure that for some people, although I don’t know any of them, texting an ex could genuinely be harmless fun; a wholesome stretching out of the olive branch or maybe even the start of something new. After all, without reunions we wouldn’t have Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik’s new baby, Maria wouldn’t be a Von Trapp and Ross and Rachel wouldn’t be Ross and Rachel. However, it’s all about context.
As it’s Cuffona Season, your desire to text your ex is more than likely a symptom of you being lonely, bored and frustrated by the lack of dating and socialising options.
Curling up with a mug of mulled wine under an outdoor heater with your newest Hinge conquest will have to wait until post-vaccine life, but that doesn’t mean that you should put yourself in the firing line of rejection from your ex today.
2. What does my ex mean to me?
Whether you dated for three weeks or three years, how you feel about your ex matters because it reflects how much their actions (i.e not texting back or not giving you the response you want) will impact your mood / mental health / self-esteem / and ability to keep moving on.
Do you still have feelings for this person? Yes? Then don’t text them. They are an ex for a reason, keep it that way. Even if you’re blaming yourself for the breakup or you’re banging on about the fact you, them and everyone else in the village have changed, that’s probably not true. It takes two to tango my friend and, ultimately, it didn’t work, you broke up, it’s over and you have to accept that. Acceptance is shite but start working on it and, I promise, you’ll be happier in the long run.
3. Will I be hurt / embarrassed / take it out on myself if they don’t reply or give me the texts I want?
Receiving likes, notifications and texts gives us a dopamine rush. We bloody love it. For about one minute. The problem is, not only is this a short-term high, but you’re addicted to it, and when you don’t get it from your ex in the form of a good reply, you’re gonna feel pretty rubbish.
How many times have you sent a text and immediately regretted it? Huh? LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE CRYING IN THE BACK. Why put yourself through this weird form of self-punishment?
You can’t control what anybody else thinks, feels, does or texts and, as we’re all currently trapped in our rooms, small everyday annoyances or upsets, like someone not texting back, are amplified into huge disasters because, quite frankly, we have very little else going on.
Remember, the only thing you can control is how you RESPOND to the events in your life (hello CBT). So, if you’ve got itchy text fingers, react by doing something else. Replace the need to text this magical wonderful ex with a nourishing, fun activity. Have a good old cry and then paint your dogs’ toenails. Put on your favourite Cher song or learn a new joke. Even better, do something which really engages your brain, like a craft or reading, without external distractions, as this will slow down your thoughts and bring you into a more mindful, calm and present state.
4. How did your ex treat you?
Never text an ex who exhibited harmful and damaging behaviours, such as Psychological abuse, (e.g name-calling, threats and manipulation), Economic abuse, Sexual abuse, Coercive control, Physical abuse (which includes restraining you or throwing objects or pinching or shoving you and claiming it’s a ‘joke’) or Tech abuse (e.g sending abusive texts). For more information and support, visit: https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/
Let’s say that your answer to this question is that your ex was a really lovely person. That’s nice, but that doesn’t mean that you should text them.
Instead, grab a pen and write down all the crappy things that happened in your relationship and the crappy ways it made you feel. Rose tinted glasses have been all the range during Cuffona season, but they lie. You remember past trysts with a pang of longing, forgetting all of the shit bits. Look back at past journal entries or text chats between you and your ex to find evidence of crappyness that you can add to your list. Ask your friends what you said at the time. Did you spend a lot of time anxious, sad, arguing, feeling disappointed, frustrated, unseen? Likelihood is, its probably better to steer clear of this person because what you “shared” really didn’t make you feel fucking fantastic after all. Next, write down all the things you’ve learnt as a result of the breakup or time since and how you want to grow and have grown.
What do you like about being single? What kind of relationship do you want in the future? What does a healthy and happy relationship look like to you?
Basically, start looking forward to new opportunities. Even though we can’t grab them right now as we fester in our homes, we have our imaginations, Netflix, sex toys and our journals. Revel in it.
5. What do your nearest and dearest think?
We hate it but they’re probably right. Ask people who you know have your best interests at heart to tell you the cold hard truth. Just don’t take advice from toxic friends.
6. What would you say to someone you cared about if they were in this situation?
It’s up to you to answer that!
So, there you go, some things to ponder as you sit in your pyjamas eating easy peelers, trying to remember your ex’s eye colour. Don’t get me wrong, feeling alone is a very real reality right now, but texting your ex is probably not the answer.
Reach out to other people, distract yourself with new habits and activities and don’t fantasise about your ex when you wank.
To finish off, here are a list of some things to do when all you can think about is texting them, add and subtract as you wish:
Scream into a pillow
Write an affirmation on some paper and stick it on your mirror
Dance to a Fleetwood mac song
Start reading What A Time To Be Alone and How To Get Over A Boy by Chidera Eggerue
Listen to a break-up podcast (there are loads and some are incredibly helpful in the moment when you’re feeling extra low or desperate)
Text someone else
Read this article
Watch Candice Brathwaite’s live from 17th Sept entitled “Just a Little Chat”
Wash your face
Follow The Therapist Tracie on IG
Cuddle your pet, whether real or imaginary
Listen to “The Homecoming Podcast” by Dr Thema
Organise your clothes
Listen to “Where Should we Begin” podcast by Esther Perel
In the words of Stevie Nicks, heartbreak of the moment is not endless.
This too shall pass baby!
Image from Bridget Jones' Diary.