Online hunt for love connections said to peak today

According to experts, January 4 is the No. 1 day in the year for people to go online in search of true love.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Is today the right time to look for love online? Or is it the best day to go out? Salvatore Rodree/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You're probably spending January 4 begging your favorite sports team to boost your self-worth or searching for the perfect poached egg (too many kitchens overdo the vinegar).

I think, though, that I know what you really want today. You want a new lover. Please, I am a desperate believer in mathematics and all the disasters for which it's responsible.

So I know that by the end of the today, you are more than a little likely to have gone online to find a new date with whom to mate.

I base this notion on the data of Match.com and other sites, as reported by Mashable, which insist that this evening sees the year's greatest volume of online dating.

Match.com insists that 5:52 p.m. PT today will see a positive frenzy of unhappy singles and marrieds leaping to their electronics and praying for a buzz. You're apparently 15 percent more likely to meet someone special if you online date in January than in any other month.

I contacted Match.com to ask what it considers the psychology behind this surge. I will update, should I hear, but in the meantime, I'll offer some loving thoughts.

I'm guessing it's a little like Weight Watchers and other diet joys. You stare the year in the face. It's new and you're still the previous year's version. So the impulse is for change you can believe in, or, at least, change you can con others into believing.

Online dating offers an endless number of possible partners whose mere pictures and pithy self-descriptions, just like the first few days of a diet, will infuse you with irrational hope.

Worse, when your expectations are excessively aroused, you'll try to forget that everyone looks worse than their pictures. There is little more painful than turning up for a date and not recognizing the person waiting for you. Unless it's that sinking feeling when you do recognize the person, but they're 15 years older and have not one chin, but seven.

There's also a troubled psychology behind this mass stampede toward a nirvana of love. Isn't it a little like those school dances where everyone's chemical systems are driving them to poor judgment, flailing body movements and possibly even expulsion?

I know that few these days can be bothered to meet people by talking to them in real life. But perhaps tonight, of all nights, is the time to go out. You may not want to. You may have to get up early to go clear up the mess at work after the holidays.

But please look at it this way. Think of all the people who'll be at home, all with the same conviction that a (likely Photoshopped) image will represent the beginning of a new life.

You, though, are looking for the real thing, as it were.

This will be someone who'll think at least a little like you. This will be someone who realizes that today may be the worst possible day to meet the perfect someone online.

So they will go to their local bar/restaurant/organic coffee shop with knit-covered coffee cups (for those in San Francisco and Seattle), in the tiny hope of reality biting in that good way.

Of course, if you're so modern that you can't possibly believe you'll meet someone in real life, let me offer an alternative. A tipsy clairvoyant in the lobby of Miami's Marlin Hotel told me recently that February 1 is a much better day for meeting someone online. (The desperate January people will be gone by then.)

So why don't you spend the next month losing a little weight, gaining a little self-confidence and preparing for that day instead?