Classic yuletide yearning
As the ancient holiday proverb goes, “thou shalt not hometown Tinder.” And yet…
For all the ways the holiday season—from late November through the start of the new year—might strike you as a frigid, sugar-high, thoroughly unsexy time for romance, data on dating app usage would suggest otherwise. According to Marketwatch, Grindr tends to experience a 15% increase in activity on Thanksgiving, and a 30-50% increase on Christmas Day. Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have all recorded that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas marks the largest annual spike in usage. Last year, on December 26 (boxing day, to some), the app Coffee Meets Bagel saw a 71% jump in sign-ups, and another 44% jump on January 1. Which is to say, folks are not just using their prodigal hometown returns to text their exes…they’re texting strangers too.
So what is it, exactly, about the holidays that inspires romantic momentum? Well, there are a number of plausible answers. For one, winter marks what has long been known as “cuffing season.” In colder, darker months, the comfort of a partner—and the additional body heat therein—can feel larger and more alluring than it might in the summer (getting dressed up to go to a bar when it’s pitch black and 20 degrees by 4pm is hardly tempting). Dating apps, however, can feel like a means to securing a mate…without requiring that you part with your couch, or put pants on (right away, at least).
Moreover, there’s a recorded spike in break-ups circa the holiday season. Family tensions are high, folks are deciding what they do and do not want to carry with them into the new year, and choosing whether or not your person of the moment is the sort of person who you’d like to bring home for the holidays can certainly bring about some salient perspective on your romantic choices on the whole.
When it comes to holiday celebrations, themselves, we often find ourselves surrounded by other couples—be they our parents, our cousins, our aunts and uncles—which can light up the parts of our brains that relish or admire all the safety that accompanies having a committed partner. And on our phones, too, we’re seeing an uptick in the endless stream of couple-forward photographs on our social media feeds. Plus, all the while, we’re all angling ourselves towards a specific holiday—new year’s eve—whereby tradition states that the proper way to usher in another trip around the sun is with a midnight kiss (the likes of which will often improve in quality if you know who, exactly, you intend to kiss ahead of time).
Sexually speaking, while resigned to our childhood bedrooms or perhaps our parent’s couches, it’s only natural that we grow more pointedly horny by the day. Our agency is curbed, we’re often without outlets, and we’re reassociating ourselves with the more sex-starved adolescent versions of ourselves from decades past.
On more obvious, prosaic terms, the stretch between mid December and the start of the new year marks one of few time frames in which much of the country is set free from work. And with ample free time at your disposal…what better to do than look for love? The good news is this: Your odds are strong. Now, in particular, the sea is rife with chilly, thirsty, single fish. Or, you know, suitors (fish and dating apps are a whole other can of worms).