Winter Girlfriend Syndrome


There is a funny commentary by Edith Zimmerman (who is quickly growing on me) about an article that ran in Marie Claire titled “New Trend: Should You Lock In A Winter Boyfriend?”. It’s all about finding that special someone to spend the holidays with – but just the holidays, and be sure not a moment longer! Apparently this is a pretty popular thing. Maura Kelly (the original author) did a search on craigslist that turned up three ads for “winter girlfriends” and four for “winter boyfriends”. It got me started thinking about holiday-specific hookups, and other seasonal- or event-specific hookups too.

People like people who other people like. It’s a pretty basic idea that explains why we use the word “popular” to describe individuals that sometimes, no one really likes all that much. Being associated with other people equates to social status, whether you’re interested in them or actually friends with them or not. I suppose maybe it’s sending implicit messages out to everyone that you’re socially acceptable. Look, but they are smiling and happy in all these group photos! They can’t POSSIBLY be an axe-murderer! It’s the same mentality that hijacks our rational thought when we feel self-conscious being alone in a public space. OMG I’m one of thirty people in this park but everyone’s GOTTA be looking at ME. Everyone is looking at me and I’M ALONE! They must think I don’t have any friends. I’m a loser. I’m a loser sitting on this park bench all by myself having a latte. AHHH okay, okay Femwriter, be cool. Let’s whip out my phone and pretend I’m texting one of my very many friends.

People go out of their way to find dates to formal events – proms, weddings, parties, etc. They start arranging these things far in advance to make sure that they don’t go alone. Why? Because it makes them look bad to be single. People would rather show up with a Robert Pattinson cut-out than face the shame of PUBLIC SINGLEDOM. (Personally, I think the girl in this picture is a complete badass, but I also think that subtracts from my point).

Lots of people are on the hunt/prowl/lifelong search for a “special someone(s)” to spend their time with. Hell, I’d like someone nice to cuddle up to next to the fire, too. This winter I’m one of those people Maura Kelly talks about who schleps around in my pajamas “ordering Malaysian take-out and watching Arrested Development DVDs”. Sure I’m looking for someone special, but if I find them, I’m sure not about to dump them on their ass as soon as the weather gets warm. Not if that wasn’t our agreement, anyway. A lot of this “winter boyfriend/girlfriend” talk seems to rely upon misleading the other person into thinking your relationship is something that it’s not.

Maura Kelly quotes her friend: “He explained the ‘phenomenon’ by saying he liked having someone steady to cook dinners with and watch movies at home with — and he added that it’s well known that a guy will always break things off with the ‘winter girlfriend’ as soon as spring arrives, when his libido kicks in with the onset of sundresses.” Now I don’t see anything wrong with people hooking up for the holidays, for a weekend, for any reason or no reason – and if I did it certainly isn’t my place to judge. But the fact that there is an actual Winter Girlfriend Syndrome seems to imply that there is a bit of one-way duping going on. Cue typical misogynist bullshit about manipulating women in order to “transition them” from one-time hookup to full-fledged Winter Girlfriend. So while this may be just a harmless name for sleigh bells-induced cuddlelust (I just made that up!), is it really only a matter of wanting someone to come home to? Or does it create increased possibilities for people to misread their partner’s expectations of a situation and how far they want a relationship to go?

All that still being said, how can I find a winter boyfriend? 🙂

[Edit: if you re-read this, it’s interesting to point out the heteronormativity in my own post]


About FemWriter

FemWriter is a dedicated unlearner, privilege caller-outer, language finicker, and aspiring professional feminist.
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