You’re reading Winter Well, our seasonal guide to taking care of your body, mind and spirits during the winter months.
New year, new bae. Yes, it’s only the first week of the year but the pressure to get coupled up is already mounting. With Dating Sunday hitting this weekend – the busiest day of the year for apps – and Valentine’s Day just a month away, January is the time when single people feel very... well, single.
Dating Sunday is the name given to the first full Sunday of January (no, we don’t count the hungover hell of New Year’s Day) when singles run to dating apps. According to Bumble, January is a peak time for interactions on its app, alongside October (the start of “cuffing season”) and the run into Christmas.
But singles are only growing in their desire for agency over their romantic lives. According to Bumble’s annual dating survey, 63% of daters say they’re being clearer about their emotional needs and boundaries, while 59% are being more thoughtful and intentional about how they put themselves out there. And if this means going solo for longer, so be it.
That’s certainly true for Adesuwa*, 30, a talent manager from London, who has jumped back on Hinge after deleting the app in 2022.
“The last time I was on the app, I made a few friends, but the jungle of dating can be a bit draining. However, my profile this time around is a lot more straight to the point and indicative of what I’m looking for,” she tells HuffPost UK.
So far, Adesuwa is enjoying her second run around the block on Hinge, and confesses that she’s actually on a bit of a “world tour”.
“I set my location to different parts of the world to see what’s out there,” she says. “I tried Potomac which is in Maryland in the US, because of the show Real Housewives of Potomac, and safe to say I will not be joining the cast anytime soon. But I’ve had quite a few matches across the US and UK. So far, so good.”
Though Adesuwa wants to get into a relationship eventually, she doesn’t feel the pressure to do so right now. “I don’t think anything good comes out of forcing things to be the way you want them to be,” she says.
“This is the most intentional I’ve been dating-wise. For me that’s good enough. It’s also important that I don’t settle. Luckily, despite past breakups, I’m not jaded in love and I’m quite confident I’ll meet someone at some point.”
Jessica* on the other hand, a 27-year-old doctor from West London, is feeling the pressure to be with someone, as she hasn’t been in a relationship yet.
“Now that I’m turning 28, I feel like I’ve worked on myself enough, so I’m ready to settle down,” she says. “I’ve filtered through insecurities and worked on trust issues from past situationships. I feel like now is the time to get out there again and finally feel and experience that my friends have spoken about.”
She recently joined Hinge for the first time and finds it interesting, but says the men she’s encountered on the app come across as quite nonchalant.
“Everyone is trying to be someone they’re not or moulding themselves to be what you’ve mentioned,” she says of online dating.
“Most times that fades over time, and if you do find someone who ticks most of your boxes, you’ll then find red flags you can’t paint over and make look pink, because that’s you basically setting an expectation that won’t be reached.”
Like Adesuwa, when she changed her location to the US, she noted a different attitude. But while she’s finding the process tricky, she’s determined to find her one. “I’d prefer to meet someone in person, as we will probably have a mutual foundation to start on and I feel like it’s more authentic, but alas that hasn’t worked for me so I thought let’s give an app a go,” she says.
Emma Starrs, 46, a PR director based in Manchester, is an app regular, but has downloaded Bumble and Hinge for the new year as she found most of the men she matched with on Tinder just wanted to have sex.
“I was finding it grim on there and I was mainly matching with people who had very different values to my own,” she says. “So that’s why I gave Hinge and Bumble a try on the recommendation of friends.”
Though she’s connected with a few people and gone on a couple of dates, she has not found the experience very fulfilling so far.
“As I’m 46, I have old-fashioned hopes for love which go beyond just sex and trading suggestive videos and photos,” she says. “I’m looking for a connection with someone, someone I can do things with and I just haven’t found that person yet.”
* Some surnames have been omitted to offer anonymity
How to make dating apps work for you
Quality *and* quantity
“While we always preach quality over quantity when it comes to conversations, your dating app profile requires both,” Cansdale says.
“Make sure your profile is completely filled out with great photos and well considered prompts, a proven way to get 20% more engagement.
“It’s simple: it gives others more to work with. Try adding your favourite restaurant, an activity you’ve always wanted to do or a bucket list holiday destination – as much as possible to spark the chat.”
Less isn’t more
Sorry to report, but Cansdale is clear on this point. “The more effort you put into dating, the more you’ll get out. The data shows that the more active you are, the more engagement you’ll get and the more times you’ll appear to other daters.”
Make sure to send out a few likes every day and put yourself out there to those you have things in common with, she advises
When it comes to dating apps, photos are first impressions, advises Cansdale.
“Over half of singles (53%) say an authentic, filter-free photo is top of their list in terms of what they want to see from others. So, make sure you’re putting your authentic-self forward in your photos and add some natural shots showing your personality and what you’re like day to day.”
Be clear on what you want
Setting out your dating intentions is important. “Want to meet someone who wants to explore the new city you’re in for a few days? Trying to get back into dating after some time off? Looking for something a bit more long-term? It’s all fine, as long as you’re upfront,” Cansdale says.
“Be clear about what you’re looking for in your bio and when you get chatting - it’ll help you attract the right people and the best matches for you.”
Watch the clock
“There’s one simple trick to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and that’s by being in the right place at the right time. Dating Sunday is the best day for dating apps, but when is the best time? It turns out 7pm to 10pm is the best slot to swipe – get online in the evening if you want to strike while others are scrolling too.”
Winter calls for us to take greater care of ourselves and each other at this time of year, from our health and homes to our headspace and matters of the heart. Whether you’re seeking motivation or hibernation, HuffPost UK’s Winter Well series is here to help you through the short days and the longer months.