Usage data for dating apps shows a brisk uptick during winter months

11 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Facts
iStock 2017

Which season brings out the lover in you?

You may feel that Spring is the season of love, when the warming weather charms our hearts (and bodies) into some sort of Nature Channel mating ritual. Or perhaps you’re more of a “Summer Love” type, complete with romantic walks on the beach and chance meetings at outdoor soirees over a cool beverage.

If you’re either of those two, you’re in the minority.

For most of us, it turns out that the icy months of winter - dubbed “the cuffing season” - is when we put the most energy into finding mates. When the weather begins to cool, we look for a partner to cozy up with near a fireplace, binge on some Netflix, nest down, and wait for Spring.

And according to our data, when it comes to dating site (and app) traffic, cuffing season is very, very real.

Since the summer of 2015, Thinknum has been tracking active user counts for dating apps and sites Tinder, Match, OkCupid, and Meetic. In virtually every case, there's a notable jump in active users starting right after Thanksgiving and into the winter months.  

So, the next time you see someone quietly swiping right in the dead of January, don’t be surprised - that person is just looking to bundle up and get in on some cuffing season action.

Here’s what we found in the data, which shows how each app ranks in Facebook's lifestyle category. 

Match.com

Dating mainstay Match.com ($NASDAQ:MTCH) sees a rapid uptick in usership leading into the Christmas holidays just about every year. Its meteoric jump compared to a more hookup-style app like Tinder is a bit of a mystery, but it could have something to do with the fact that people tend to consider Match.com a place for relationships, rather than hookups. At least, that's what we've been told.

Tinder

Tinder, the app that turned digital dating into a swipe-for-all, boasts top rankings any day of the year. But it, too sees a jump during the colder months. (Note: Because it is SO hugely popular, Tinder's graph doesn't move as much as the others - the jump from 10th to 9th or 8th represents a HUGE uptick in user activity.)

Meetic

You may have never heard of Meetic, but if you were French and single, it'd be part of your regular dating journellemont. As you can see, last summer saw a grande slump for Meetic, followed by an especially dramatic rise starting in mid-November, just a few days after Armistice Day. Tres bien. Here's hoping it worked out for some of you. Vive l'amour!

OkCupid

Wildly-popular dating app OkCupid is no stranger to the cuffing phenomenon. One look at the last year of rankings shows that not only are winters the season of usership jumps, but a stready decline and plateau in the warmer months is pretty solid evidence that we, as humans, love to cuddle when it's cold.

About the Data

For this story, we looked at Facebook login ranks for the various apps. As you know, most dating apps (called "Lifestyle" apps in Facebook's parlance) utilize Facebook login to ease the signup and information-gathering process. They also contend that it improves security, as they can assure that users have "real-world" friends and aren't just trolls or predators.

Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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