If you're single and looking and planning to spend Halloween weekend bingeing on Stranger Things, you might want to reconsider. The dating app Hinge just revealed that today, October 27, is predicted to be the biggest day for actually getting dates online this autumn. But it's not just app users who will be excited about romance this weekend—Halloween is the perfect setting for meeting someone new in real life.
Turns out, the idea to go out and look cute on Halloween with high hopes of romance isn't modern. There's real history here. "Halloween in the early twentieth century had far less emphasis on blood, gore, and scary monsters and much more emphasis on courtship, romance, and the opportunity for love," wrote Daniel Gifford for the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. With Cupid literally posing with a jack-o’-lantern and a black cat, the pictures of Halloweens of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are far less frightening and more focused on flirtation.
"These parties involved decorating, organizing games, sending out invitations, and maintaining social relationships—in other words, all things that were seen as part of the feminine sphere," Gifford explains. While men were definitely involved in Halloween traditions (mostly of the pranking sort), he surmises that "Halloween in the early 1900s could largely be described as a feminine holiday—organized around and for women."
It may be easy to laugh and sigh at how obsessed our great-great-great-grandmothers were in their search of our great-great-great-grandfathers, but check yo' privilege! As Niraj Chokski points out last year in the New York Times: "For women in a restrictive society, [these games] offered a semblance of control." The kind of control the real world wasn't all that intent on giving females—at least then.
But times have since changed, and we no longer need to contrive games like Snap Apple, Mirror, Mirror, or Ring Cake to reveal our romantic future. And we certainly don't need an app (although they can help). We can simply put a costume on and go outside—and take fate into our own hands!
So, what is it about Halloween that makes us feel ready for a romantic possibility?
01. The Perfect Icebreaker
You obviously don't need science to tell you that laughter is the easiest way to break up nervous tension in the room, but science I will give you. Laughter relieves our stress response, soothes any physical tension, improves our mood, and can even relieve pain (yes, even heartache). So when guys are walking around like giant hamburgers (one of Hinges' suggestions for best costume, by the way), it's the perfect opportunity to get a funny conversation going—to get both of you to relax. Compliment his buns, or ask him if he's ever had "beef" with McDonald's. Whatever your line, remember this guy isn't dressing up like a giant meat sandwich to take himself seriously—so neither should you.
02. The Masked Allure
Harkening back to the intrigue of masked balls from a bygone era, Halloween holds an element of mystery that piques our interest, while breaking down normal social constraints. Costumes not only hold a certain sense of mystery ("Who are you?"), but most people also find it far easier to walk up to handsome strangers when your identities are obscured. You needn't actually wear a mask, just being slightly removed from your identity will help let down your guard enough to strike up the kind of conversation that might have been hindered under normal circumstances.
03. The Fear Factor
If you haven't heard of the famous shaky bridge experiment, it goes like this. There are two groups of men. One group must walk across one bridge that's very sturdy and safe, the other group must walk across a shaky, unstable bridge. After each man gets off either bridge, a female gives them her number. The results were interesting: the men who walked across the scary bridge were significantly more likely to call the woman and ask her out on a date, compared to the men who walked on the boring bridge. As Scientific American explains: "The fear-induced arousal from the bridge, the men all 'misattributed' this arousal as sexual attraction when they saw the woman immediately afterward." In other words, scary things make us more likely to find each other attractive—boosting our inclination to take risks. So maybe walking through a haunted house with that group of guys isn't a terrible idea?
04. The Social Scene
Unless you're a small child or a parent of one, Halloween is pretty much a holiday reserved for friendly antics and parties with peers. It's also the type of weekend where different friend groups tend to mix up more. With an influx of open-invitation parties, and all the bars getting into the holiday, costumed folks from all walks of life are up and out. So walk around, and strike up a conversation. This may be the largest gathering of single-and-unattached people of the year.