Recently, I asked readers to tell me how they experienced the holidays, and I received a wide range of answers. Many wrote about the fun they had spending time with friends and family, or just lounging around in their pajamas watching movies and doing jigsaw puzzles.
But many singles also said they feel very lonely during the holidays, which is no surprise. Between big-box store ads and Facebook feeds, images of happy couples and families abound. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are also one of the most popular times of year to get engaged -- and to display sparkly rings at dinner tables. If you're single and searching, it can leave you feeling a bit left out.
"I truly love the holiday season," writes Denise. "However, my heart aches as we enter into the holidays because once again I don't have a special someone to spend them with. I sometimes get such a heavy feeling of sadness when I'm out shopping and I see other couples shopping together. It makes me feel like I'm an alien or something because I don't have someone."
That "alien" feeling is one that many singles report. So it might be heartening to know that the beginning of the year is actually the time that online dating sites see the most activity.
In addition to watching old movies and playing Legos with nieces and nephews, single people are also taking some time to quietly log online and check out dating profiles. It's not a moment you'll see in anyone's Instagram feed, but data analysts at the country's most popular online dating sites can see the numbers: This is one of the busiest weeks of the year, and that increased activity will continue until Valentine's day. In the online dating business, this is high season.
Why? Well, for one it's New Year's. People are taking stock, thinking about what they want in life and making renewed commitments to pursue them. Not surprisingly, a romantic relationship is high on many people's lists.
There are also a lot of newly single people out there. The holidays might be a popular time for engagements, but it's also a time when we see a high number of breakups. Again, it's the stock-taking. If you and your partner aren't getting along, the seven-hour drive to his mother's condo probably isn't helping matters.
Getting jilted during the holidays is rough, but there is a bright side for both new and long-term singles. In terms of the numbers anyway, this is the very best time to look for love.
This post first appeared on eHarmony.com.