Long, cosy nights. Short, bracing days. Log fires, country walks and Christmas parties.
Yes, the first icy blasts of winter are already being felt, and on the surface it sounds like a great season for
dating. But not everyone sees it that way. According to new research, many singles see winter dating as a bit of a drag.
Don’t let yourself be one of them. Dating in winter means changing your strategy a bit, because, while summer is all about activities and action, winter is a more sedate affair, with ‘cosy’ taking the place of ‘carefree’ in most people’s minds. But get it right and it can be a boon for those who make the effort.
With that in mind, here are a few top tips to help you warm up the coldest season.
Winter dating blues
According to dating site Lovestruck.com, many singles see the nights drawing in and the temperatures plummeting and get a cold blast of the “winter dating blues”.
The blues set in around October, clear a little for Valentine's Day but don’t shift completely until chased away by the brighter, warmer days of spring.
According to Lovestruck, 16% of women and 14% of men suffer from the affliction, admitting to downgrading their dating activities when the first frost spreads across the window pane. Many of us start to be more tempted by the easy and familiar delights of nights in with pizza, beer and the Xbox than the less comfortable but potentially more rewarding benefits of dating.
And that could be a mistake, the company says. “Singles risk missing ‘the one’ for the sake of a few thermals – and the X factor, pizza, being moody and not liking the dark.”
A US survey found a similar attitude to cold weather romance. The study of 3,000 singles found that a majority – 57% – thought winter dating was more challenging. That feeling led many to say they wouldn’t actively bother again until the spring.
And it also means, according to the Lovestruck study, that we find it difficult to be inspired in the winter months. Nearly a quarter of men admitted to being less inventive with date venues and typically chose places close to where they lived. Reasons given were darker evenings, tiredness and the colder weather.
There are sound scientific reasons for this dating apathy, apparently. “Our energy levels are lower during the cold weather, and we tend to be moodier,” explains
clinical psychologist Dr Seth Meyers. “Both factors make both initiating and then maintaining a relationship difficult.” It can also make us more critical when perusing the online profile of a potential date, he believes.
We also tend to feel a bit sluggish and unattractive – not the best preparation for a hot date. “We have a natural tendency to overdose on carbs, stimulants and alcohol in the winter to boost our moods temporarily,” says nutritional psychologist Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure. “It's one way we try to compensate for the lack of sun.”
Hitting the carbs and booze might lift our moods temporarily, but artificial highs are usually followed by equally dramatic artificial lows (a hangover, for one), which make us even more prone to slobbing out on the sofa. It also helps pile on calories – another disincentive to dating.
Make the effort
All that may be true, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep dating anyway. Dating guru Hayley Quinn believes that winter can be a crucial time to find romance.
“If you can fight the winter blues, it’s actually an incredibly romantic season,” she says. “So make the most of umbrella sharing, bracing walks and hot chocolate venues with views or invite your date over for a Sunday roast – winter offers opportunities for more intimate dating so enjoy the fact you don't need to save these for long-term relationships only.”
And that, in a nutshell, is the beauty of the season. Dating becomes less action-packed but far more intimate. It’s far more likely to take place in a venue which offers the opportunity to really get to know each other, like a cosy pub or bijou bistro. It offers you the gentlemanly opportunity to offer your date your coat or scarf for the cold trip home (and if you don’t actually accompany her on the trip it means you have to arrange a second date so she can give them back).
Winter dating success is about playing the conditions. A crisp, cold afternoon and you can ask her for a bracing walk in the country, or even the local park. This has loads of advantages. You pretty much have to talk all afternoon, giving you a chance to shine. It’s a daytime activity, so unthreatening for your date. And it naturally leads on to a more intimate venue when the skies darken and you both need to get warmed up.
Lovestruck also found another reason to be grateful for the winter date. The site saw a 21% increase in singles suggesting ‘stay-in’ dates in winter. For an amorous 11% that resulted in what may be described, euphemistically or otherwise, as a ‘sleepover’.
So if you’re looking for love – or even something more frivolous – don’t let up when the nights draw in. Use your imagination and make winter work for you. It could lead to something special.