Model this (online dating fact of the day)

According to forecasts from and Plenty of Fish, two of the country’s largest dating sites, the single most popular time for online dating — the window when the most people sign up, log on and poke around — will be Jan. 4, from roughly 5 to 8 p.m. Zoosk, another data-focused dating site, backs that estimate up; in 2014, it’s most trafficked time was on the Sunday after New Year’s.

The full article is here, via Ninja Economics.  Might it mean that a) online dating is a kind of palliative against holiday depression?  Or that online dating is a kind of New Year’s resolution, a willingness to undergo a brutal experience for a supposed potential long-run benefit?  Or a bit of both?  Personally, I engage in some of my least productive work on Sunday evenings.

Your model, by the way, should not neglect these corollary facts:

Interestingly, this cycle doesn’t just play out on dating sites — in fact, it’s far broader than that. Researchers have also observed a post-holiday spike in searches for porn, for instance, and a 2012 study by Facebook’s data team found that people are far more likely to change their relationship status in January or February than they are at any other time of year. Offline, the holiday season tends to see a jump in both condom sales and conceptions.


You neglected two other explanations:

There is a strong desire to be in a relationship during the holidays to send various signals to family members. You covered this before in a markets in everything post about boyfriend rentals for the Chinese new year. This leads people to be in sub-par relationships that are abandoned after the holiday. Unfortunately, this does not explain the condom and contraception sales spike.

There is a strong desire to not be single on Valentine's day. This would help explain both online and offline factors.

Exactly. Especially if you get told over Christmas dinner that you are the last one in the family without a partner and/or child. If you have only one year to show up with a baby next Christmas and pregnancy lasts 9 months, you need to be quick with making the baby. - Coincidentally, I wrote a story about this after last Christmas (which I refused to attend):

That was really good. I would definitely buy an anthology of short stories by you if that were representative.

Oh. You made me blush.
And you make me reconsider my laziness. I have written a few more stories (feel free to e-mail me for the links, I don't want to advertise here). I have plenty of ideas and my notebooks are filled with beginnings and ends of stories, with outlines of plots and parts, but then too often I give up or move on to another project. I should take a break for a few months and focus on writing only.
Comments like yours are highly motivating, and for that I cannot thank you enough. You have been more helpful than any New Year's resolution could be.

This leads people to be in sub-par relationships that are abandoned after the holiday. Unfortunately, this does not explain the condom and contraception sales spike.

It doesn't? Wouldn't you be more likely to insist upon condoms and contraception if you were in a known sub-par relationship likely to be abandoned after the holiday than in a long term relationship?

CONceptions not CONTRAception

Another explanation: If you're single, many of your relatives and friends will pressure you to find someone when they see you during the holidays & new years eve. Further, you may see your friends and relatives coming to Christmas Eve dinner with their significant other, and envy their situation enough to want to make a change.

I wonder if there is any similar effect after Thanksgiving.

When I used to work as a divorce lawyer, I received considerably more cases in mid-January.

I reckon a lot of people wait until after the holidays to initiate proceedings, so as to not spoil the holiday season for kids/family.

Huh. That's actually pretty surprising. Plenty of Fish is still in business?


I think Tyler met his wife in an online dating site. Technically--and this law IMO is ridiculous--if you fail to tell the INS about having met your wife online, she can be deported, your marriage can be annulled, and you can in theory end up behind bars. Think I'm kidding? Google it. It was passed a while ago, I think in the Bush era, when those Russian brides were being battered in Seattle. Another example of the over-felonization of anything and everything in the USA. Then people wonder about the US's low birth rates, and red tape strangling business. You did it to yourselves, risk-adverse AmeriKKKans.

Ray Lopez is the go-to expert on any jurisdiction's dubious-bride-importation laws.

But apparently not so keenly aware of the skin color of the current President of AmeriKKKa.

The US doesn't have low birth rates. Compared to low-income countries, yes. But compared to other countries with similar per-capita GDP, it's a bit of an outlier on the high side.

@Brandon Among the top ten countries by GDP (PPP), the US is 8th in fertility so I'm not sure what definition of "outlier" you're using.

Charting fertility against GDP:

As an immigration lawyer I can tell you this is pretty much completely false. It's a Wild distortion of some recent practice of long existing rules. Nothing new like this"was pass" by anyone.

@Matt-you write like a foreigner and you probably don't even know about dis law, dig dis, and yes I diss you: "" Vamos avocado troll!

Ray, a "marriage broker" isn't on-line dating. You don't know what you are talking about. (even as to marriage brokers you're confused as to what the law says.) I'm an American immigration lawyer, and married to foreigner myself, so know quite well that you don't know what you're talking about.

@matt--thanks for your note. I understand your point of view counselor. It's an advocates position. A lot of dating sites online have taken the same position that you do, that is, if the online dating site is open to all users on an equal and non-discriminatory fashion, then it's not covered by this law. But technically, you can argue this is a disingenuous letter-of-the-law attempt to evade the law--and it's not been tested in court. This is neither the time nor place (wait, it is the time, just not the place) for further discussion. I normally don't do this, since a lot of people hate my guts for speaking the truth in a provocative manner, but if you wish to communicate further on this issue you can email me at raylopez88 at gmail dot com. Take care! (a US engineer in the Philippines myself)

Ray Lopez is unfortunately a clueless troll who goes around trying to convince people of the opposite of the truth

Absolutely moronic as usual, Ray. And then you link to something you think supports you, but doesn't

"Think I’m kidding? Google it." is really no substitute on citing the exact law. There is a lot of stuff on the internet. When it comes to laws, probably more than half of it is wrong. Maybe that's responsible for the huge prison population in the US.

@AM - and now you're an expert on US law too? I gave you the link, see also my comments above. I realize you German lawyers are supposed to be experts in all facets of German law, but I see your writ extends internationally too! No wonder you guys spend your entire adult life in law school...

In many places in the country, the "Baby it's cold outside" theory should not be excluded either. Cold weather, early sunsets, fewer things to do outside and more time indoors.

It's a brain-jerk to assume that an increase in per-capita income correlates with a lower birth rate. The reality is that an increase in per capita income correlates with an increase in television viewing which results in less sexual activity and a consequent drop in the birth rate. Many men would rather watch televised football (American or international) than have sex with the same patooti they've been indulging for years. Women would prefer viewing "Friends" re-runs or its third-world equivalent to wrestling with some smelly, hairy oaf that isn't bringing home enough bacon. Computer access to the internet is dropping fertility rates even further.

Ouch! Just in time for the January gym special offers.
I think I would rather have no sex than sex with someone who would rather not see me naked, so there is a positive feedback loop in there, too.

You can turn off the lights.

I think I would rather have no sex than sex with someone who would rather not see me naked

Really? Indefinitely?

Sounds a little erotic for a Sunday morning.

"...two of the online dating sites...most people sign up... and poke around..."

From what i see in the article the effects are small, not statistically significant and only in age group 25 44 you can visually notice a difference...

I've always heard that right before the holidays is prime dumping season, because people realize that they don't like their partner enough to spend the holidays with them...or make expensive Valentines Day plans with them.

It could simply be a function of free time. People are busy for whatever reason near the end of the year (work, holiday shopping, etc.) and put off looking for a relationship until busy season is over.

By that function, though, wouldn't we expect to see similar spikes shortly after other time-consuming seasons? E.g. Thanksgiving or Finals Week?

I think January 4th is when people are finally sober enough after their three-day bender that they realize how sad and lonely they are and so, they sign up for dating sites (or just go look at porn, if their situation is really that hopeless).

Some people use dating sites instead of porn because there are at least real people writing you back, even if you will never meet. So I heard.

Or maybe it's a Markov chain chatbot...

Maybe breakups peak in December? And these mating rituals (and mating-like activity) happening in January are not at the margin themselves the significant deviation in behavior.

When I was in marketing research a couple of dozen years ago I ran a lot of consumer packaged goods data for a column in the WSJ. The biggest week of the year for condom sales was between Christmas and New Years: i.e., New Years Eve.

The biggest week of the year for sales of colored chalk was in early April: i.e., when children come outside after winter and play on the sidewalks.

>sales of colored chalk was in early April

I think that's when the weather gets better for police shootings, and they want to make those outlines of the corpse in the street.

Easter baskets

I'm going with a simpler answer. People are trying out the new computers and smartphones they just got for Christmas. The old model is just so slow anymore from the spam and advertising they've accumulated since last year. So time to check out the sites with lots of picks and dream ...

I think it is just workload based. A lot of companies will offer time off over the xmas to new years break and people will be out meaning a de facto exemption from meetings. Once people compete their other annual errands, they will have time to stack rank prospects. I almost had time to do that this weekend but I decided to rebalance my investments and organize some music I had purchased instead.

Same recurring pattern with the interest in fitness:

i am CMO of A Place For Mom. We help people find senior living for their loved ones. We see about a 50% jump in inquires from Dec to January. The bump starts right after Xmas but really gets going the Mondat after the New Year.

So this year: January 5th.

Senior Dating sites must get a HUGE bump!

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