Though the first day of winter isn’t until December 21, as far as I’m concerned, the season starts as soon as Thanksgiving is over. It gets dark early, we’re all looking forward to the next big holiday, and everyone in the office is placing bets on when it’ll snow for the first time this year.

Depending on how you look at it, winter is either the last season of the year (December) or the first (January). Either way you look at it, in my book it’s the worst. Despite all the movies, TV shows, and songs that romanticize winter as a magical season filled with holiday cheer when everyone falls in love over crackling fires and mugs of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, I’ve yet to see any proof that mistletoe actually works.

Contrary to what pop culture would lead us to believe, winter is not actually a romantic season. And here are 16 reasons why.

Winter is actually cold

Okay, Elsa, you tell yourself that. In every movie during the winter, the cold is either completely ignored, or used as a cute plot device. Half the time people are walking around in the snow wearing a sweater and fingerless gloves without a coat or hat, and the other half they’re snuggling together for warmth and falling in love during the process. Being cold is not a sexy feeling.

Possible romantic redemption: Sure, that snuggling together for warmth thing might be hot for a little while (pun intended). But at some point, you need to go back to sleep in long underwear and socks.

Snow is not that great

Everyone in winter movies is obsessed with snow. If they live in a place where they have it, it’s amazing. Snow days! Snowmen! Snow angels! If they live in a place where it’s too warm for snow, they long for it. In actuality, snow is a pain in the butt. It makes it hard to drive, it’s only pretty for an hour or so before it gets covered in dirt and dog pee, and laying on the ground to make a snow angel is not nearly as comfortable as it looks.

Possible romantic redemption: There is something to be said about “walking in a winter wonderland.” When it’s a fresh snow, the powder blanketing the trees is beautiful.

Getting a “winter bod” is so real

We all did our diets and our cleanses and our exercises in the months leading up to summer, and it’s been a slow reversal ever since. You have to eat candy on Halloween, you have to eat three helpings on Thanksgiving, you have to warm up with hot chocolate when it gets cold outside… fortunately, we layer up in the winter months and our sweaters cover the “winter body” our summer selves shake their heads at.

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Possible romantic redemption: Indulging in whatever foods your winter bodies desire together could be a fun date, I suppose. Hot chocolate or eggnog to wash it all down? Plus, you can get fit in the spring.

Sweaters are itchy

Speaking of those sweaters that are so handy in hiding our winter bods — so many of them are itchy and uncomfortable, particularly festive ones. And don’t even get me started on the sweaters you receive as gifts from well-meaning but style-challenged family members that you have to pretend to like. Ugly Christmas sweater parties are all fine and good, but that’s the only occasion when such monstrosities should be worn. Otherwise, keep the wool away.

Possible romantic redemption: Complain about how itchy your sweater is while making meaningful eye contact. Take it off. Use your imagination.

Giving presents is awkward

Remember those aforementioned sweaters you receive from well-meaning relatives that should never see the light of day? That’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the awkwardness of gift giving. How much money do you spend? Do you have to buy presents for every single one of your friends? What if they don’t like it? What if you don’t like what they get you? How long do you have to be dating someone before you exchange gifts? What’s the etiquette on thank you cards?

Possible romantic redemption: If you know your partner well enough, this can be a chance to show off just how romantic you can be.

You never get the gifts you want

We’re too old to make wish lists to mail to the North Pole, so it’s rare that we actually get the gifts we’ve been longing for all season unless we just receive straight up cash. It’s so weird when you have to open presents in front of other people and everyone watches for your reaction — be prepared to look pleased, regardless of what’s inside. Is it rude to return a personal present? Isn’t it worse to keep something you’ll never use?

Possible romantic redemption: If you get your significant other something they actually do want — or better yet, something they didn’t even realize they wanted but that is perfect in every way — they’ll love you even more.

Skiing is really hard

Sports are difficult enough without adding unpredictable weather into the mix. The pros make skiing and snowboarding look all graceful, but navigating a hill is much easier in hiking boots than wooden boards. And that powder isn’t as cushiony as you’d expect when you inevitably wipe out (see “snow is not that great”). Sticking to the bunny slopes is embarrassing when all your family and friends are taking the ski lifts to the top, but breaking a leg is worse.

Possible romantic redemption: Once you get back to the ski lodge, the romance can actually begin. Maybe there’s even a hot tub to bring your frozen muscles back to life.

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Traveling is awful

Even if snow hasn’t made the roads more dangerous than normal, traffic certainly will. Airline travel isn’t much better. Everyone is rushing around the airport, flights are overbooked, and delays are inevitable thanks to winter weather (again, see “snow isn’t that great”). Half the crowd is traveling for vacation and half the crowd is traveling to see family, but everyone is frazzled and convinced they won’t make it to their destination on time unless they act like a**holes to everyone else around them.

Possible romantic redemption: Winter is a great time for a couples getaway to somewhere nice and warm.

“Vacation” isn’t what it used to be

“Vacation” is what everyone took before Wifi and smartphones took over the world. Nowadays, it’s practically impossible to completely unplug unless you’re visiting Santa at the North Pole or hanging out on the inside of an active volcano. Hence, you’ll still receive work emails from pesky coworkers who are too boring to be on vacations of their own, and you’ll also be distracted by Instagrams of friends who are on vacations that appear to somehow be cooler than yours.

Possible romantic redemption: For real romance, get rid of the phones / tablets / laptops. Keep your eyes away from the screens and on each other.

Holiday music is really weird

Holiday music sounds great in the background when you’re Christmas shopping, decorating the tree, cooking dinner…until you actually listen to the words. So many holiday songs are annoying, weird, creepy, and downright inappropriate. Do you really want to flirt with your significant other while you listen to some woman sing about flirting with “Santa baby”? Unless, of course, role play is your thing.

Possible romantic redemption: They’re not all bad. Some holiday songs are actually quite beautiful, perfect for a romantic evening with your boo. Just maybe stick to some instrumental-only tunes. I recommend Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Family time is stressful

Even if you aren’t like The Family Stone (spoiler alert), where some of your siblings hate your significant other, and the one who doesn’t ends up with dating her — but it’s sort of okay, because you end up dating her sister — and on top of that, your mother has cancer…spending time with family during the winter holidays is stressful. There’s gift giving to consider, questions about your love life (or lack thereof), stress about living up to your parents’ expectations. It’s not exactly the best recipe for falling in love, despite what Hallmark movies teach us.

Possible romantic redemption: I suppose you might be able to sneak some nookie in your childhood bedroom-turned-Mom’s-office while the rest of your family is busy fighting.

You never run into the person you want to under the mistletoe

In all the movies and TV shows about the winter holidays, mistletoe is a magical plant that brings crushes together in a romantic moment for the ages. If they were unsure about each other before, one little sprig of holly convinces them they’re meant for each other. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that in real life. If anyone actually does hang holly, you’ll only end up fumbling around with someone you don’t want anywhere near your mouth, awkwardly making excuses to run the other way.

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Possible romantic redemption: Maybe you get to experience that one in one million mistletoe moment that’s fit for the big screen. Maybe.

You run into everyone you don’t want to see

Not only do you not find the person you want under the mistletoe, you find everyone you don’t want when you go home for the holidays. The girl who picked her nose while sitting next to you in junior high science class. The guy who made fun of you for weeks after you accidentally farted during dodgeball in gym sophomore year. The teacher that gave you your first C on an exam. Probably an ex or two. An old crush or two, too, just not under the mistletoe where you wish they were.

Possible romantic redemption: Ever seen Just Friends? I guess that scenario is possible.

It costs a lot of money

Winter is expensive. There are the obvious things, like holiday presents and travel expenses, and the less obvious things. The heating bill to keep your residence livable, the expensive parka to replace your old wool coat, the cashmere scarf that matches the expensive parka, the hot chocolate that somehow costs more than your usual coffee, the extra cost of dry cleaning for all your layers now that you’re not wearing a tank top and jeans everywhere.

Possible romantic redemption: It would be pretty dang romantic to win the lottery. The alternative would be to find a Kris Kringle sugar daddy, so if that’s your thing, you do you.

Spoiler alert: Santa Claus isn’t real

According to children’s movies and the Hallmark Channel, holidays are the most romantic time of the year because of the spirit of the season. There’s magic in the air thanks to Santa Claus and his merry band of elves, spreading Christmas cheer all over the world. But when you think about it, there’s nothing hot about an overweight old guy in a red velvet suit. Sure, velvet may be back in style, but paired with that hat?!

Possible romantic redemption: Even if Santa isn’t the sexiest around, he is quite generous. You and your partner could be generous with one another this season.

New Year’s Eve is always a disappointment

Ignore all of the hype. Every year, people get their hopes up for New Year’s Eve, and every year they’re let down. How can one night really encapsulate the entirety of the past year and usher in all the possibility of the next one? It can’t. Wear all the sequins you want, drink all the champagne you can, but regardless of who you end up kissing at midnight, New Year’s Eve has no indication of how you’ll spend the rest of the year. So take off the pressure, it doesn’t have to the perfect night.

Possible romantic redemption: I guess it could be the perfect night if you meet the perfect person at 11:59.

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