Is Summer Really the Sexiest Season?

Credit - Illustration by Christina Lee for TIME

When is the best time of year to meet someone? It’s a question I get asked a lot as a dating coach. With modern dating being a minefield, people are struggling to meet viable dating prospects and often want to increase their odds of success.

I don’t blame them. But as modern daters continue to gravitate towards meeting people on the apps rather than out and about, that question is becoming much muddier.

In the past, I have recommended that my clients embrace summer as the season with the most potential for organically connecting with people. A lot of us get a natural energy boost by the longer days and warmer nights of summer. Those after-work invites that can feel like a slog on colder evenings feel more accessible, and just going out with friends is more exciting with the influx of more people out, too. This energy has a natural way of increasing our interest in dating and sex. That’s why we often refer to having a “summer love” or “summer fling.”

But, nowadays, is summer really the sexiest season? It’s more complex than you’d think.

Despite my high praise for summer in the past, it may come as a surprise that fall and winter are perhaps more conducive to coupling up or making a more concerted effort to find long-term partners, and are technically the true sexiest times of the year. According to 2018 report by Smithsonian magazine, birth rates increase dramatically in the late spring and summer, indicating that more intimacy actually happens in the colder, cozier months. This may be a result of people securing partners during “cuffing season,” a time when single people begin pairing off for the cold months, but it’s also reflective of our natural human mating season. Summer is often thought of as the time for meeting new people, and fall and winter are for settling down.

The problem, though, is not the season in which we date: it’s the reality that historically seasonal dating trends aren’t compatible with the modern way we meet one another.

Read More: If You’re Dating Right Now, You’re Brave

In general, singles are finding it harder to meet people when they’re out—in any season. Most of us move through the world tapped into our phones, not the world around us and the possibilities for human connection. And despite their popularity, the average success rate of finding partners through dating apps is only around 12%, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center study.

To boot, the fact that more people are opting to be single creates a bleak picture for anyone looking to meet someone new. In a 2022 Pew study, a staggering 57% percent of singles said that they weren’t looking for a relationship or casual dates. The number of singles who were looking to date decreased from 49% in 2019 to 42% in 2022, with men less likely to report that they were looking for a relationship or casual dates than women. So, if you are relationship-minded, or even open to going on some dates to see what happens, your options may be fewer and the process of weeding through prospects is becoming much harder than it was just a few years ago.

This data also helps to explain what I often see as a dating coach: People who are very motivated to find partnership, sex, and love are often meeting people who aren’t as invested in the process as they are—who aren’t matching their energy. But there are even more layers to this. For those who primarily use dating apps, there’s also the issue of inactive profiles cluttering their feed and making it difficult to find matches. It is often confusing and time-consuming to deactivate dating profiles when users want to take a break from them or because they’ve met someone. Because of this, people may delete the app, without realizing that it doesn’t delete their profile. Inactive profile policies vary from app to app, but some inactive profiles can remain visible for months to years. This can give the impression that there are way more people available to date than there actually are. It’s a bit like walking into a ghost town.

For all of dater’s desires to optimize the process of meeting someone new and take advantage of any opportunity to make dating easier and more fun, it’s hard to get past the facts. Fewer people want relationships, and it’s harder to meet people who do—whether it be digitally or in the real world. Those summer nights may not be as hot if the people you meet while you’re out aren’t interested in forging any type of relationship. And even on the busiest of dating apps, there’s no telling how many people are actually active and who among them is really serious about meeting someone.

That said, this doesn’t mean those looking for partners should give up. It means that you’re right to feel that dating is hard these days, no matter what the season. There may be pressure to make the most of summer by going out more or starting up a dating profile, but the reality is that you are likely to face the same dating challenges year-round.

That means that it’s even more important to take chances in dating whenever you can and give yourself lots of credit for dating against the odds. If you find summer love, it won’t be because of some special quality that the season has. It will be because a lot of things fell into place for you to find the right connection.

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