Online Dating Is Different This Holiday Season

Online Dating

How Online Dating is Different But Not Impossible This Holiday Season

Julie Spira

Written by: Julie Spira

Julie Spira

Julie Spira is a leading online dating expert and founder of She’s the bestselling author of "The Perils of Cyber-Dating" and creates irresistible profiles for singles. Follow @JulieSpira or connect on Instagram.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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If the holiday blues and your meager dating life have got you down, know that you’re not alone. With strict lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in place, dating has become challenging for everyone — novices and serial daters alike.

But you don’t need to pump the brakes on dating altogether. Even if you won’t be traveling home to see your friends and family for the holidays, or you’ve nixed scheduling a night out for drinks with a new date, you have at your disposal a medium that has become the new normal in life — the internet.

In fact, with all of this time on your hands, using this digital toolbox to find a connection online may be exactly what you need to add some joy to your life and brighten your holidays.

Cuffing Season is at Its Peak

One would think single people would be bored after nine months of creative socially-distanced meetups and mask-wearing hikes with potential love interests. But the enormous surge in dating app users continues, proving that, despite the ongoing social restrictions, this holiday season is adding fuel to the desire for human interaction.

We’re in the middle of cuffing season, the period between October and Valentine’s Day, when singles are actively seeking to change their relationship status to coupledom for the holidays, whether virtually or IRL. With the arrival of colder weather, activities mostly move indoors where it’s warm and cozy.

This year, singles are faced with a double-whammy: the cuffing season and COVID-19. I view this period as dating on steroids, where highly unusual activity peaks through the holidays. While your traditional holiday celebrations have likely been modified, you don’t have to fly solo while watching your friends announce they’ve become exclusive.

Dating App Usage Has Drastically Increased, So Join In

As an online dating expert and coach, I can tell you the activity on dating apps is off the charts and has been climbing since March.

The safest way to date is online right now from the comfort of your living room on your computer or mobile phone.

The Hinge dating app reported a 17% increase in use over the summer. So far, the fall season leading into the holidays has marked the highest level of user engagement for the entire year.

Other data from the research site Apptopia shows that Match and OkCupid both saw an increase of 21% percent during September and October. Bumble reported a bump of 16% during the same period.

What all of this activity means for you is that — with a few exceptions — the dating rules you thought you knew are gone. Don’t worry about going dutch. Eating out has been replaced with a Zoom conference over drinks from your respective homes. No more wild flings. In its place is some quiet conversation during which you may learn as much about yourself as you do about your online date.

Be More Humorous With Your Ice-Breakers and Flirting Techniques

These novel times demand a new set of skills for online single daters. It’s time to ditch your bah humbug mood and replace it with a sense of humor, as humor is one of the top traits that both single men and women say they’re looking for in a romantic partner.

Photo of a man laughing

Both men and women say they’re looking for someone who makes them laugh.

If you’ve got a stale dating app profile, it shows that you’re not taking the process of finding love online seriously. This time at home is perfect for ramping up your digital conversation skills. Take advantage of the fact that your to-do list has rarely been shorter.

If you’re stumped on what to say, do some research to find tips on writing a witty description in your profile that will grab the attention of a potential match. The same goes for getting a nice photo (or two, or three) of yourself that doesn’t show you wearing a mask. There will be time for mask-wearing later. Dating apps these days are filled with new features and suggestions for ice-breakers to help you match with someone just about anywhere in the world.

Be Relevant With Your Pick-Up Lines

Use the experiences you both are living through as fodder for conversation and sharing. While life has presented most people with difficult situations, resist the temptation to talk about just the negative parts of your day. Find quirky or funny topics of discussion. The Year in Swipe 2020, a new report from Tinder, reveals some of the top trends in this history-making year.

Among them is how Tinder users said they couldn’t date someone who doesn’t support the BLM movement. Another is the rise of the use of TikTok. Not surprisingly, what the study confirmed is that singles have not stopped dating despite the pandemic.

In its annual review, Tinder revealed the top 10 pick-up lines, which you’re free to borrow:

  • “Quarantine and Chill?”
  • “Let’s be like the coronavirus and catch each other.”
  • “Looking for a plus-one for my family Zoom calls.”
  • “Wash your hands so you can hold mine.”
  • “Looking for someone to pump up my heart rate so my glasses fog with my mask on.”
  • “A month ago, I needed cuddles. But now I need sanitizer and face masks. Can you help me out?”

Use More Emojis in Your Dating App Messages and Texts

Tinder’s Year in Swipe also listed the 10 fastest-growing emojis that captured how singles were flirting and dating in 2020. The shrugging emoji topped the list, followed by a roll of toilet paper, and the smile emoji donning a mask.

Emojis have been flooding the digital world in record numbers. Studies show that singles who use emojis get more dates and have more sex.

I encourage you to add emojis to your messages and text exchanges, depending on your mood. Chances are, you’ll have a greater probability of receiving a reply to your message when an emoji catches someone’s eye.

Watch a Movie Together on Teleparty

Even though most movie theaters are closed, watching a film with your long-distance crush has never been easier.

The Netflix Party extension on Google Chrome has changed names to Teleparty. The service has expanded to include streaming on HBO, Disney+, and Hulu, with more to follow.

Whether you’re up for a few laughs watching the Emmy-winning series “Schitt’s Creek” on Netflix or seeing Daniel Levy and Kristen Stewart in the Hulu movie “Happiest Season,” couples who stream together can fall in love together.

This holiday, you can even schedule a Christmas date from the comfort of your home to see the new release of “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max or at a drive-in movie theater.

Using this Chrome extension on a date when you can’t be in the same room or city is the perfect tool to create memories together. You can let your opinions flow in the comments, and take a break by pushing the pause button to indulge in a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Netflix & Chilll’d ice cream.

Video Dates are a Must

I’ve been preaching for months about how effective and efficient it is to schedule video dates, especially since you can quickly vet a date, and singles are getting the cue.

Bumble reports 30% of their single members say they are focused on finding a partner heading into the holidays, and the app saw a 70% increase in video calls this past spring.

Going on virtual dates is the new normal for singles swiping on dating apps. I know most of you may have embraced Zoom calls for business meetings and Hollywood Squares-like social get-togethers. If you haven’t already, it’s now time to leap into becoming proficient in scheduling a virtual date.

Photo of couple on video date

Schedule a video date as an opportunity to get dressed up, have a drink, watch a fun movie, and get to know someone new.

To get ready for your video date, you’ll need to take your makeup out of the drawer where it’s collecting dust and get date-ready from the waist up. Make sure to check your lighting. Natural light works the best, or place a lamp in front of you for optimal lighting.

Add in a few fun virtual holiday-themed backgrounds, and voila! You’ll be lifting your date’s spirits along with your own.

The Bash, a party planning website. has compiled a list of 60 holiday-themed Zoom backgrounds, from reindeer to chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Rather than agonizing about what to wear, you can change your virtual background several times a day to show your stylishness without skipping a beat.

Consider This Your Holiday Dating Survival Kit

If you can’t find your match by the end of the year, there’s no need to fret. Dating Sunday, the most active day for online dating, is Jan. 3, 2021. It’s the first Sunday of the new year, and I have no doubt we’ll see historical levels of activity.

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