The night before Thanksgiving, I walked into my hometown bar for that most hallowed of suburban traditions: getting drunk at the townie bar on Thanksgiving Eve. The scene inside was like a cattle auction. High school classmates came and went, pressing through the crowd to get to the bar or to find their friends, while we all shamelessly appraised one another and whispered into friends ears to check out how so-and-so was looking. But the meat-market atmosphere was not merely judgement for the sake of judgement: People were on the hunt. The holidays were upon us, and brought along the promise of many long nights spent stranded in our quiet town. What better way to pass the time than to start up a romance with that guy from the swim team?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the year for location-based dating apps like Grindr, Tinder, and Zoosk. There are several reasons why the holidays are the most popular time for these low-commitment, easy-to-use apps, with simple boredom and a need for distraction among the more obvious ones. This year, Grindr saw a 15 perfect increase in activity on Thanksgiving and says it normally sees a 30 to 50 percent increase on Christmas Day. And the popular hot-or-not-style dating app Tinder sees a 5 to 7 percent increase in users the day after Christmas. Although it doesn’t seem likely that significantly more users are actually meeting up on these days (with an exception made for Jews on Christmas), sneaking into a side room for ten minutes to flick through the app is probably a lot more tempting when your family’s on their third bottle of wine and everyone’s yelling about politics.
There’s also the annual cycle of holiday breakups, which includes the Turkey Dump phenomenon, when relationships end before the high-pressure holiday period, and so the post-Thanksgiving period is full of new singles primed for a rebound. The pressure of being surrounded by happily coupled friends and family might make one want to start swiping through Tinder in search of Mr. or Mrs. Right (or Right Now). Or perhaps it’s just the sudden onslaught of winter that triggers an animalistic urge to find a fellow source of body heat. Not to mention all those fireplaces that just make you want to do it on a bearskin rug. Better fire up the old smartphone — it’s not quite New Year’s yet.