Cuffing Season: Why Autumn Is the Best Time to Start a Relationship

A couple kiss near the Sacré-Coeur in Paris in late September. According to researchers, more relationships begin at the start of fall. STR/AFP/Getty

Saying goodbye to summer can be hard. But as you bid adieu to beach days and a few extra hours of sunlight, there's one more thing you can say so long to: your singlehood. In addition to Instagram-worthy photo ops in apple orchards and pumpkin spice overdoses, fall also ushers in love as the start of what's dubbed "cuffing season."

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Every year as the temperatures dip, singletons across the country give up their freedom for relationships to make the cold winter months more bearable. Dating app Hinge found that men were 15 percent more likely to prowl for women in winter compared to other seasons, reports the UK-based newspaper, Independent.

It's not just a coincidence that we begin to pair up in the new season. In fact, it seems that just like the leaves, our bodies also change in autumn, helping us find love (at least until spring hits). Here's what you need to know about how our bodies work to find its mate:

Men Find Women Less Attractive in the Summer

If men's magazines were indicative of what the gender really wants, then it would appear men find women in revealing clothes sexiest. However, clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Manly told Newsweek the opposite is true. "During summer, men become habituated to seeing women in scant bathing suits, shorts, and skimpy dresses," she explained. "In the fall and winter, skin is covered due to cold. In accord with the general law of supply and demand, bare flesh seems to become more alluring as it becomes less available." Research appears to support this theory, too. A study from 2008 showed that male attraction changes seasonally, with guys finding female bodies more alluring in the winter and least tempting in the summer.

Those Pumpkin Spice Lattes Get You in the Mood

A study from 2011 revealed that men and women have higher levels of testosterone in the fall. Higher levels of the sex hormone are believed to increase sexual desire in both genders. Not only that, but Manly says that seasonal scents, particularly pumpkin pie and vanilla, can help stimulate libido. And well, there is definitely no shortage of faux pumpkin spice this time of year. But why do we opt for monogamy instead of casual sex? Naturopathic physician Dr. Jennifer Stagg believes we have a mate-seeking drive in fall, but research hasn't yet offered an explanation.

Our DNA Change in Mysterious Ways

Your genetics in the fall aren't quite the same as they are in summer. Stagg explains there are roughly 5,000 different genes that appear to be affected by the season, most likely due to the shift in temperature and light. A study published in 2015 also indicated seasonal DNA changes, and it's this phenomenon that impacts how hormones get expressed and produced, thus changing our sex drive.

Fall is the Temperature Sweet Spot

Colder temperatures might ignite our desire for wanting to find warmth in the arms of someone else, but Stagg theorizes that once the snow hits, singles will stay uncoupled. "When you get into winter, people tend to date less," she said, emphasizing that it's the transition period where relationships thrive.

You Get Addicted to Cuddling

OK, so maybe not addicted in the clinical sense, but we do begin to crave canoodling, in part thanks to what's known as the cuddle hormone, oxytocin. "As a couple engages in more sex, more oxytocin is created; the increase in oxytocin feels wonderful," Manly said. In order to create more of the "feel good" state, more sexual activity is desired, creating what she calls an interesting cycle.