Each month, over 400,000 Americans search Google for queries related to loneliness and depression (Ahrefs).
It’s also well-documented that during the pandemic, people around the world experienced a significant increase in feeling lonely and isolated.
But when do we feel the most alone? Is there a particular day of the week when we feel loneliest? And if there is, how can this knowledge help people prepare for these feelings of loneliness and depression?
It turns out, there is.
In this article, the team at Meditation Focused conducted an analysis of online searches for dating apps to identify what time of the week people feel the most lonely.
The aim of this study was to first identify when people feel their loneliest, and then to offer practical solutions to managing these lonely days of the week.
At the beginning of this study, we hypothesized that:
- When people feel alone, they desire human connection. Therefore people feeling lonely might turn to online dating apps as a way to find a connection. This would mean that significant temporal variance in daily online searches for dating apps should indicate when most people are feeling lonely.
- Sundays would be America’s loneliest day, and if we could prove it, we could offer people help on how to handle their loneliest day of the week.
- We also included a yearly analysis to see if there is a particular time of year when people most seek human connection.
Given our hypothesis that people experiencing feelings of loneliness might search for online dating apps, we collected search data for the four most popular dating apps in the U.S.:
- Plenty of Fish
Figure 1. Most popular dating apps in the U.S. Source: Business of Apps
Keyword search volume was collected using Google Trends, Ahrefs, and Keywords Planner.
Due to the availability of data, our dataset for the daily analysis was restricted to the past three months, July 4th – September 30th, 2022.
A one-way ANOVA test was performed to see if there were any statistically significant differences between search volumes for each day of the week. We then used a pairwise comparison t-test with a Bonferroni adjustment to identify which days of the week had significantly different search volumes from the others.
Sunday consistently had the highest online search volume for online dating apps, other than two weeks (Figure 2 below).
Figure 2. Cumulative daily searches for dating apps from July 4th to September 30th, 2022, in the U.S.
There was a statistically significant difference between search volume and day of the week (F(Mon, Tues, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun) = [9.22], p=9.45E-08).
Search volume on Sunday was significantly higher than on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, but not on Saturday and Monday (Table 1).
|Weekday Pairs||t-Test: Two-Sample Assuming Equal Variances w/ Bonferroni-adjustment||Significant?|
|Sunday:Tuesday||M=131716.7:M=119975, conditions t(24)0.0083=, p=0.0016||Yes|
|Sunday:Wednesday||M=131716.7:M=116316.7, conditions t(24)0.0083, p=0.0002||Yes|
|Sunday:Thursday||M=131716.7:M=113316.7, conditions t(24)0.0083, p=5.85E-06||Yes|
|Sunday:Friday||M=131716.7:M=113750, conditions t(24)0.0083, p=1.98E-05||Yes|
|Sunday:Saturday||M=131716.7:M=124133.3, conditions t(24)0.0083, p=0.0280||No|
|Sunday:Monday||M=131716.7:M=121100, conditions t(24)0.0083, p=0.0087||No|
Table 1. Results from t-Test: Two-Sample Assuming Equal Variances with a Bonferroni-adjustment.
February, in particular the first two weeks of February, saw a significant increase in online searches for dating apps compared to other months of the year (Figure 3 below).
Discussion: Managing the Weekend Blues
The data from this study shows two very clear patterns in searches for online dating apps:
- The first is that significantly more people search for human connection on the weekend and Monday than on the other days of the week.
- Second, February is the month of the year with the highest search volume for dating apps.
It’s important to note two assumptions our hypothesis and data collection method uses:
- People use dating apps alone. While this may be true for many people, others might also use dating apps in a group or social setting to make more of a game out of the experience. In these cases, those using the app might still be looking for human connection, but it would be different than people sitting in their living rooms searching for a partner.
- The glaringly obvious potential contradiction to people feeling more “lonely” on the weekends, thus searching for companionship with dating apps, is that more people are out on the town and want to hook up. Nonetheless, the desire to hook up is still feeling a void of human connection.
In hindsight, these results might not come as a surprise to many people. The spike in February searches is likely attributed to Valentine’s Day, as more people try to find a partner with whom to spend the most romantic day of the year.
Higher weekend searches are likely attributed to people having more free time during the weekends. When preoccupied with professional commitments during the working week, people are likely focused on sticking to their routines and staying focused on work.
When the weekend rolls around, and single people aren’t working, it is only natural that they seek human connection if they start to feel lonely during this time.
And indeed, while people might be using dating apps during the weekend for a short relationship or a one-night stand, they are still seeking connection, still trying to fill a void. They still feel a lack of connection which they believe dating apps can fill.
There are two glaring problems with this trend, however:
- True happiness can only come from the individual.
- Online dating apps are algorithmically rigged to keep people using and spending in the app, making it an addictive activity that is shown to damage many people’s self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and self-image.
One of the best ways to manage these feelings of loneliness, which occur during the weekend, is to know that they are coming and to plan ahead.
Loneliness generally comes when we’re alone. Yes, people can feel alone even when surrounded by other people, but this might be a signal that you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong type of person.
By identifying those times when you know you’ll find yourself alone, which, according to our data, are Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, make plans:
- Plan to jump on the bus and go to a part of town you’ve never been to.
- Find a restaurant you’ve yet to try, and go there.
- Plan to get in your car and drive somewhere new.
- Go to a museum or art gallery, or a stand-up comedy night.
- Find a new yoga class, a local running club, a soup kitchen or a dog shelter to volunteer at – anything that breaks the cycle of sitting at home on your phone, flicking left and right.
- Plan a meditation session. Whether you decide to meditate at home or in a special setting, perhaps a forest, a park, on the beach, or even a graveyard, meditation is something you can do on your own. Whichever form of meditation you choose, be it open-heart meditation, transcendental meditation, or your preferred practice, you’ll experience a sense of connectivity and tranquility that dating apps likely can’t provide.
Yes – It’s absolutely possible you’ll meet the love of your life on Tinder. But sitting at home on Sunday afternoons using a dating app prevents you from doing so many wonderful activities. It’s during these real-life experiences that you might organically meet someone with whom you can connect.
Even just getting outside, whether it be among people, making eye contact, smiling at one another as you walk along the street, or getting out to nature, you’ll be up and about, off your phone, experiencing new things and places.
The harsh truth is that only you can stop yourself from feeling lonely. It must come from within. And once you feel happy being with yourself, you’ll find other people are as well.