Fingers at the ready – “Super Sunday” is here.
Super Sunday (the first Sunday in January), is the biggest day of traffic for dating apps each year – that includes downloads, matches, and chat.
This year’s Super Sunday – January 3 – is still on track to be a dating app apex despite, COVID-19.
Let’s reflect on the dating year that was. It could be described as, complicated.
COVID-19 and physical distancing meant that the way we facilitated and navigated new and existing relationships changed. As we entered lockdown the desire for an iso-partner (coupled with iso-boredom) saw dating app usage sky-rocket across Australia and the world.
Trends that followed included a sudden surge in sex toy sales, and other digital-sex platforms, like for example OnlyFans. It wasn’t smooth relationship sailing – dating app user behaviour became, as Elie Seidman (CEO of Tinder) stated, ‘episodic’.
Users went on and off, as they ricocheted about an emotional minefield triggered by the ontological uncertainty that was COVID-19, alongside loneliness and incessant questioning of what actually constituted a ‘relationship.’
As we ended 2020, many of us were trying out new relationship paradigms. Among the list of configurations featured: non-amorous co-parents; BONPAs (Bed Only No Public Appearances); and new to ascend the relationship throne: the friendship.
The idea of the monogamous relationship, as a requirement or indeed a staple, was coming unstuck. Others felt that 2020 had set them back from a romantic timeline perspective – with postponed marriages and even deferred fertility plans.
As background, I am a PhD researcher from Western Sydney University, who examines dating apps and intimacy, and the host of the Slow Love podcast series (a pod on love, sex, romance and intimacy) – and I have charted these trends across 2020, talking to hundreds of people about their year of intimacy experiences.
However, for those concerned that love, or traditional ideas of romantic intimacies might be dead and buried by the emotional avalanche that was 2020, there is hope insight. In fact, it’s really just around the corner.
Dating Sunday promises to be bigger than ever before.
The first Sunday of every year is known as “Super Sunday” or “Dating Sunday” from a dating app perspective. Traditionally, the first Sunday of January is the biggest day of growth for dating apps, with phenomenal spikes in downloads, sign-ups, matches and Direct Messages (DMs).
According to all the usual suspects: Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Grindr and beyond, Super Sunday is a very real phenomenon. Bumble Australia said last year, there was an increase of 13.8 percent in matches, and the number of messages sent were 14 per cent greater than the daily average.
This is a ‘busy’ period for dating apps in Australia. The business starts at Christmas and spans through to Valentine’s Day – with a peak on Super Sunday or Dating Sunday. Across this period last year over 52.8 million messages were sent amongst the Bumble community in Australia.
As a result of the pandemic, almost one in three Aussie singles have re-thought what they want from a a partner and a relationship – most of them want to slow down the dating game, prioritising a more meaningful connection.
The stats come from Bumble’s Intimacy in a Pandemic, which also found 20 per cent of its users had split with a partner during the year and were now swiping for new love.
Super Sunday, is fuelled by holiday break-ups, New Year’s ‘love’ resolutions – plus Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. (Users are generally well aware that it will take about six weeks to work up a genuine enough relationship to celebrate on Valentine’s Day.)
With COVID lockdowns still in force across the world, Victoria only recently having emerged from the most severe restrictions and areas of New South Wales in renewed lockdown, it’s reasonable to think that singles will be hitting the dating apps with renewed verve on Super Sunday.
While it’s common for most dating app pieces to conclude on what makes for a ‘good’ profile: decent profile pic, and authentic bio (with special attention directed towards spelling, and image selection!) – it’s not physics, to most it will be fairly self-explanatory.
However, my research indicates, that the key barrier for people downloading and participating on dating apps is they inherently object to the strategic and pre-meditated nature of dating apps.
They believe dating and relationships should happen ‘organically’, or better still, ‘when you’re not looking.’
There’s a conflict here for users.
Clearly, their very presence on a dating app flouts the critical rule of relationships needing to be formed ‘spontaneously’ laid out by unknown relationship gods.
This is not true of all people, but some would much prefer to meet in a face-to-face environment.
As Bianca, single and living in Melbourne, told me in an interview on Slow Love, “This dating app world – I don’t get it, and it doesn’t get me”.
For dating app cynics, Super Sunday might be the moment for you to dip your toe in the dating app waters. After all, at least you can be assured a critical mass of users and as a result choice.
However, for those resolved to err on the side of the ‘organic’ romance, you are not alone.
Lisa Portolan is a PhD researcher on dating apps and intimacy at Western Sydney University, and the author of Pretty Girls (2020) and Happy As (2018). She is the host of the Slow Love podcast (produced in conjunction with Contento), a podcast on sex, intimacy and relationships