How to survive the fake dating app holiday known as Dating Sunday

Post-holiday breakups (or the single blues). Mid-cuffing season. Pre-Valentine’s Day. This time of year is a perfect storm in terms of dating.

And the dating apps have taken notice. So much so that they have created an entire holiday day to mark it: Dating Sunday.

What is Dating Sunday? To start, it’s celebrated on the first Sunday in January, meaning this year it falls on Jan. 5. Much like its older, more famous cousin Valentine’s Day, it is pretty much a made-up holiday focused on love, or more so the desire for love. But where Valentine’s Day has centuries of history and an actual saint behind it, Dating Sunday has much different origins: data. 

Because of this “perfect dating storm,” apps have figured out that the first Sunday of January is the “best” time to use apps. In this society of quantity over quality, “best” means that the highest volume of people are on dating apps at this time. The term first cropped up back in 2016.

Dating Sunday is apparently the “Super Bowl of dating apps,” according to Rachel DeAlto, Match’s “Chief Dating Expert.” And pretty much all of the big apps have doubled down on marketing it as such this year. Match has created a one-on-one coaching service called AskMatch so users can “start fresh” in 2020 and receive dating advice. Tinder has gone so far as to declare the entire season (New Year’s Day to February 13) “Swipe Season.” Bumble seems to be taking it a step further, creating a campaign with Tiffany Haddish and Montrezl Harrell

While a big marketing push and the creation of a new holiday appears on the surface to be some construction of the “National __ Day” nightmare we live in practically every day, there may be something to this; the numbers that these apps are projecting are staggering.

“At Match we’re predicting that Dating Sunday 2020 will be the largest in our 25-year history,” said DeAlto.

Bumble predicted the same in a mid-December that claimed they expect 3 million new users in what they call “Online Dating Season” — the time between Thanksgiving and Dating Sunday. 

As Bumble’s Vice President of Strategy, Priti Joshi, told me, “We’re projecting to see a 30 percent increase in new users that join the platform on that day [Dating Sunday] and expecting to see a 15 percent increase in users who are active on the app that day.”

CoffeeMeetsBagel wrote on their blog that there was a 75 percent spike in new user signups on Dating Sunday 2018. Tinder released a “Dos and Don’ts” video that same year. This year, Match expects to see an 80 percent increase in singles using their app that day — a spike that has doubled over the past few years. They even created cutesy graphics to go along with it:

How to survive the fake dating app holiday known as Dating Sunday

Image: match

How to survive the fake dating app holiday known as Dating Sunday

Image: match

These apps were excited, almost breathlessly so, to tell me statistics surrounding Dating Sunday. According to Match, the peak time to connect is 9:15 PM ET! The top five cities to match in include D.C. and Miami! Tinder users will swipe an average of 100 more times per person during “Swipe Season”! OKCupid estimates Dating Sunday will be its busiest day in history, and even noted that they hired more engineers to handle it! Millions upon millions of people will be creating profiles and swiping, waiting to match with you!

By now it’s clear that dating apps have capitalized on our loneliness and, in this case, created a holiday out of it. But there is truth behind their numbers. Given societal pressure surrounding the major holidays of New Years and Valentine’s Day, it makes sense that singles who want to try their hand at love would do so in early January. But then, isn’t Dating Sunday a sort of ouroboros, driven by our collective desire for love that has been fostered by arbitrary holidays and now is perpetuated by an even more arbitrary day?

Maybe! Existentialism aside, if you’re single and wondering how to use Dating Sunday to your advantage, I asked the experts for their best tips. 

DeAlto advises to start the new year with a fresh perspective — so, existentialism is not going to cut it (probably). “The biggest factor I see in whether someone is a successful dater or not is their approach. I get it, it can be frustrating out there, but just because you were frustrated before, doesn’t mean you will always be,” she said. “Try to shake off what happened in 2019 and start 2020 with a new sense of hope.”

Joshi stressed how important it is to actually fill out your profile. “We want to make sure they have the best profile that they possibly can over this time period,” she said. Bumble has analyzed what makes “successful” connections, and she shared some of those insights with me. One is to have three or more photos because that increases your chances of matching someone by 31 percent. Completing your bio/“about me” section ups your odds of matching by 13 percent. Adding “badges,” which on Bumble are little personality markers like your Zodiac sign or whether you have pets, raises the chance of a match by 55 percent. 

Joshi obviously focused on Bumble, but a good tip overall is to actually give a shit when creating your profile. As Hinge founder Justin McLeod told me recently, vulnerability and authenticity go a long way. Even Tinder is encouraging you to read bios, saying in its Swipe Season press release: “Pumping the brakes on your Tinder routine may give you more time to separate substance from style. In fact, people who spend more time on each profile they pass enjoy nearly double the matches and have nearly 20% more mutual conversations than folks who speed through.”

I know it sucks. You wish you “didn’t have to” use dating apps, you wish your hot friend had other hot friends who could set you up, you wish your coworkers were single and attractive. You don’t want to be vulnerable on a platform that contains trolls and bots and people whose bios include such charming sentences like, “I use this app on the toilet.” 

But this is 2020, and dating apps are a perfectly acceptable and reasonable way to meet people — especially outside your small social circle. And whether Dating Sunday is a made-up holiday (it is) that reinforces societal pressures (it does), there is also the likelihood that if you want a date — or a one-night stand, or a lifelong partner — you want one for reasons beyond that. You want genuine connection and you have not been able to find it by living your life. 

So even if you’re skeptical about Dating Sunday as I surely am, there is still value in picking up your phone and going on the plethora of dating apps you have on your phone that day. Or during “online dating season” in general. Seeing a vast increase in users could be intimidating, but think of all those people who don’t really care, who are just on the app to troll or for an ego boost. You can break that mold and potentially find someone to love — or, more important, find someone so you don’t have to participate in Dating Sunday 2021.  

UPDATE: Jan. 3, 2020, 4:19 p.m. EST This article was updated to correct the percentage that adding badges to your Bumble profile increases your chance of matching. It is 55 percent, not 65.

 

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