OnDating: Internet Dating Sites Flourish in Winter

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 23, 2009

Gyms aren't the only

institutions to see membership spikes in January.

Internet dating sites flourish in these dark days of winter, too. New Year's resolutions and the echo of needling questions from well-meaning relatives impel thousands of singles to fill the post-holiday lull with a little online love.

And this year, maybe more than ever.

The bad economy had already started having a positive effect on the Internet romance industry. In November, Match.com had its biggest one-month jump in membership numbers in the past seven years.

To some extent, it's a security thing: An eHarmony-sponsored study found that 57 percent of all Americans are stressed about their love lives because of their financial situation. And folks who are stressed were 14 percent more likely to say they intend to be in a committed relationship by the time the year is through.

People cutting back on big nights out means spending more time at home on the Internet perusing the profiles. Twenty-degree temperatures have the same effect.

"It's the perfect storm," says Sam Yagan, founder and chief executive of OkCupid, an online dating site that doesn't charge fees. Since early fall the site's traffic has risen steadily, even through the holidays, when numbers normally flatten.

In September, fewer than 400,000 users a day conducted searches for potential partners on OkCupid. By last week the average number of searches surged to more than 600,000. Messages sent between interested parties rose from 100,000 in September to 120,000 at the beginning of January. And just in the first few weeks of this month that number skyrocketed to 150,000.

All of which is to say: If you're going to do it, now's the time. When better to wade into the online waters than when the pool of candidates is at its peak?

Got a D.C. dating tip, trend or gripe? Drop us a line at dating@washpost.com.

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