Romance and Holidating

Released: 12/18/2013 4:50 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Indiana University
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Newswise — BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For many people, the holidays are a time for family, travel, gifts, food, stress -- and romance (for better or for worse).

Mid-December through mid-February is considered a peak period for online dating, said Justin Garcia, scientific advisor for the international online dating site Match.com and faculty member at Indiana University's Kinsey Institute and Department of Gender Studies.

In a survey of 1,000 Match.com clients, 82 percent reported that the holidays make them feel more romantic than other times of the year. In the same study, a quarter of respondents reported experiencing a break-up during the holiday season.

"The holidays can be a really stressful time in terms of trying to start new relationships and also getting out of previous relationships," Garcia said. "If we think of what happens with many Americans this time of year, we're traveling, we're spending more money, we're often getting to see family and friends. As much as this can bring a lot of joy and excitement, it can also bring a lot of stress. This combination can be tricky to navigate."

Garcia, an evolutionary biologist, is one of the principal investigators for Match.com's annual Singles in America study, the largest study on U.S. singles, drawn not from those on the dating site but from a nationally representative sample. He offers these insights about dating, drawn from the 2012 round of Singles in America and the survey of 1,000 Match.com clients:

*Holidating. The survey of 1,000 people found that 14 percent of men and 10 percent of women admitted to dating someone during the holidays just to have someone to spend the holidays with. Garcia said that inevitably, many singles are grilled over the holidays about their solitary status. "This is unique to humans," he said. "No other animals on the planet are so involved with the mating habits of kin as humans are."

*The Internet trumps bars as a place to meet men and women. A historically unprecedented number of single Americans is now turning to the Internet to find love: More than a quarter of singles (27.5 percent) reported that they have dated someone they met online. "Online" includes social media sites, such as Facebook, and chat groups, with the rate dropping to about 21 percent when restricted to online dating sites. Twenty percent of singles met their most recent first date online vs. 7 percent who met at a bar.

*Peak season. The peak online dating season is during the holidays, between December and February, when Match.com sees a 25 to 30 percent increase in new members registering.

*Second looks can pay off. Thirty-five percent of singles have fallen in love with someone they were not initially attracted to. Of these people, 71 percent became smitten after having great conversations or finding shared interests or both.

Garcia said online dating has the benefit of making people aware of singles living near them, in their area or within their search radius. The dating sites provide so many options, however, that it can seem overly complicated. He suggests customers spend some time beforehand thinking about what they want in a relationship and how they can communicate this to their dates.

"It's good to have a priority, as is true of so many things," he said. "With online dating, think about what you want. If you're looking for a spouse, it could be more complicated. Love and a spouse come after, with time. Online dating is about dating. There could be many people who you date. Some work out and some don't. But it's meant to be fun. People often want to jump a step."

Garcia’s research interests include evolutionary and biocultural models of human behavior, romantic love and intimate relationships, sexual and social monogamy, and uncommitted sex and hook-up culture in emerging adulthood.


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