How To Handle January's Online Dating Boom

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January may be cold and even a little depressing, but it's also the best time to go on a date— or at least the busiest time for dating. Post New Year's, there is always a spike in online dating. "The beginning of a New Year is the busiest time for PlentyOfFish, and the first Sunday of the year always brings the largest surge in signups and site traffic," Shannon Smith, Communications Manager at PlentyOfFish (POF), tells Bustle. "January 1st can signify a new start, so this year in particular we may see more singles than ever getting head starts on their resolutions. With many people ready to recommit themselves to finding someone special after the holidays, it's a great time to be looking for love."

And it's not just POF. Hinge says New Year’s Day is the biggest dating day, too. The app usually sees a 50 percent lift in registrations the Sunday after New Year’s. Match says their peak season lasts from the day after Christmas up until Valentine's Day— with the whole month of January smack in the middle. So it's a great time to rev up your dating game. The only problem? With so many people out and ready to date, it's easy to get overwhelmed. It's a marathon, not a sprint, so you have to be prepared to pace yourself.

Because you want to take advantage of the fact that so many people are out and willing to go on dates, but you don't want to get stressed or burned out. Here's how to survive the January date-athon:


Pace Yourself

If you spent New Year's Day hungover and downloading 15 dating apps, it's time to pump the brakes a bit. “I don't think it's great to be on too many apps when it comes to dating,” sexologist and relationship expert Dr. Nikki Goldstein tells Bustle. “It's better to focus on one at time and start conversations to determine what someone's personality really is, instead of quickly dismissing due to the buffet of more people on offer. If you are going to pick more than one app to increase the pool of people you get to choose from, know that this might only add to the confusion and distraction but that you should try for apps that have a point of difference.”

Focus on actually engaging with – and setting up dates with— people on one or two apps, rather than swiping on five different ones.


Be Realistic About What You Want

You need to work out the difference between expectations and deal-breakers. “Erroneous expectations create all the havoc in dating,” certified relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca tells Bustle. “When we approach dating with a bunch of ‘should’ rules, we set ourselves up for disappointment and stress.”

So you need to erase all these preconceptions that you have about who you "should" be with. But your true deal-breakers? Stick to them. The things that you actually need and value are important— and you shouldn't give them up. But turning down an amazing person because they're not as tall as the person you thought you'd be with? That can go out the window.


Mix It Up

If you're going to go on a lot of dates, make sure you mix them up — for your own sanity. The first two or three coffees at your favorite hipster place will be fine, but then they'll turn into one weird blur. Trying getting out there and doing something different.

“You create intimacy by doing,” Rhonda Milrad, Founder and Chief Relationship Advisor, Relationup, tells Bustle. “People create connection by experiencing and engaging in a task together. The event itself creates an opportunity to interact in ways that don’t occur when you are sitting politely across the table from one another. In an activity, you are negotiating, compromising, collaborating, demanding, sharing, and often working toward a common goal.” Even a simple activity — going to a museum or a cooking class— can help you learn a lot about a person. And stop you from overdosing on caffeine.


Don't Settle

I think the pressure of cuffing season can lead to us making bad decisions. "We can be better daters when we take the pressure off," clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte tells Bustle. "Go on dates as though you are meeting new, interesting people. Forget the goal of finding 'The One.' Look at dating as a way to connect to like-minded people."

Not only will you be less stressed, you'll also be able stop yourself from getting into a relationship you don't actually want. Sure, it can be great to date around— and enjoy all that January has to offer — but you don't need to get a relationship out of it.

If you're feeling restless this winter, it's a great time to jump into online dating. But make sure to be realistic about what you want and pace yourself to get the most out of the January dating bonanza.