The Winter Cling
You know what’s stupid? Feelings.
Who knew that relationships required the reciprocation of emotional vulnerability? To some, the idea of letting someone into the depths of their personal complexities may seem like an attractive solution to reconciling their unresolved issues; to others, the prospect is shrouded in the overwhelming pressure of becoming another person’s emotional crutch.
It seems as if the cold weather brings out some sort of instinctual yearning for warmth - one that cannot be satiated by a thick sweater or a cup of hot tea. This phenomenon is colloquially referred to as “Cuffing Season”, and inconveniently coincides with midterm evaluations, when stress runs high and loneliness even higher.
To those that can’t afford to commit to the financial, temporal, and emotional obligations of a wholesome relationship, allow me to introduce you to the Winter Cling. Akin to the Summer Fling, this kind of relationship is purely seasonal - a temporary agreement between two people to mutually use each other to provide the warm fuzzies of a relationship without the associated long-term investment. Sounds ideal, right?
Blame it on my ideal of self-reliance but I see some flaws in using someone else to feel whole. Don’t get me wrong - I recognize that sometimes you need someone else to tell you the obvious: “it’s not your fault” or “you’re going to be okay”; it’s in those moments that you realize who is willing to and worthy of staying in your life. But what is the value in the words and actions of someone with an expiry date? And what kind of person will you be left as once the momentary bond melts along with the ice and blows away with the spring breeze?
At the end of the day, the Winter Cling is a functional relationship; it’s not necessarily the person that matters but their role in filling some sort of internal void. Essentially, the other person becomes your emotional garbage can. The provisional nature of this agreement is what should makes it so easy to let go, but once you know that someone else can shoulder your burdens for you, the weight of it crushes you once they’re gone. If love is a drug, will you be prepared for its withdrawal symptoms?
There is strength in standing alone. It allows us to build our capacity to cope. While it is undeniable that winter is, indeed, coming, you don’t need anyone else to keep you warm. As poet Richard Siken said, “Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside someone else”. So if it is love you seek, find it within yourself.