Coupling up: singles rush to find love during cuffing season

By Phan Duong   December 25, 2021 | 09:24 pm PT
Duc Huy, 28, decided to participate in a blind date event on the evening of Dec. 9, seeking a girlfriend to spend time with during Christmas.

The insurance salesman, along with 19 other single men and women were asked to turn off all their electronic devices for the duration of the event.

Even with years of experience dating both online and offline, this was the first time Huy participated in a blind date, which made him very nervous.

Twenty people participating in the event had the opportunity to get to know each other through introductions, exchange questions, and interactions. They also had two blind date rounds in a private room to hold private conversations for 10 minutes.

"Normally I'm a rational person, but this time I decided to try let my heart and emotions decide," Huy shared after the event.

Singles attend a 2020 Valentine Party event of the Tilani, a dating booking platform in Vietnam, in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Tilani

Singles attend a 2020 Valentine Party event of Tilani, a dating booking platform, in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Tilani

Based on the two sides' impressions of each other, Huy was in turn paired with two female friends to talk.

The first girl is a bank employee. Because their working fields are quite similar, the two talked freely as if they were "longtime friends".

"The 10 minutes went by so quickly. Our conversation was stopped at the part where she was telling me a joke about the banking industry."

The second female friend has a master's degree in business administration and had just returned from South Korea.

Through the conversation, Huy understood another side of the "Kimchi Land" compared to movies.

"This girl's view of love and marriage is very modern. She needs a man to accompany her in life, not an economic pillar."

The conversation stopped when they discussed their hobbies and things they like to do in their free time.

"She just found out I like football, movies and doing charity work. But I didn't have the chance to know what she likes," he recalled.

At the end of the event, he pressed the "Yes" button to contact the two girls later. However, for many reasons, including age, schedule conflicts and sharing the same "emotional wave", he still didn’t find either a right match.

"It's another lonely Christmas for me" said the boy from northern Hai Phong Province.

The dating market has begun to bustle again after localities eased Covid restrictions, especially at the end of the year and with Lunar New Year approaching.

Matchmaking companies and dating apps are both seeing increased customers and users.

According to Denise Sandquist, co-founder of a dating service based in Ho Chi Minh City, with the current Covid-19 situation, online dating activities are growing.

Statistics from app analytics company Apptopia show the top 20 dating apps in Vietnam have reached 1.5 million users this year.

Denise's app has just reached the milestone of one million downloads in Vietnam, one year after its launch.

In Hanoi, Vu Nguyet Anh's dating company, organizer of the blind date event that Huy recently attended, noticed not only an increase in the number of guests asking about her services.

The CEO said year-end dating events always have 1.5 times higher the number of participants. Recently, her company had to recruit more employees to meet customer needs. Particularly in the high-end dating segment, on average, Anh arranges two to three face-to-face appointments per week for couples.

According to her, this is a significant number for the group of VIP customers, who are choosy and have higher conditions and criteria.

"We often hear the saying: 'New Year holidays make married people happier, and lonely people feel more lonely'. The winter season easily makes singles want to find someone to cuddle with," she explained.

According to Facebook research, cuffing season that has been popular for the past decade shows the demand for dating starting from early winter until after Valentine's the next year.

Scientists also found that, in winter, testosterone levels in the male body reach the highest threshold of the year, leading to the desire for love. In addition, the days are short and the nights are long, prompting single women to find love to change their mood.

Besides, at the end of the year, when there are many weddings and friends and family gathering events, people are easily asked about love and marriage.

"This year alone is more exciting than others, but also because of the prolonged social distancing period, which makes single people experience loneliness even more," Anh analyzed.

In early October, a male customer booked Anh's VIP service with the request "to get a special person to spend Christmas with, at the latest before Lunar New Year".

Since then, every one to two weeks, this customer is arranged to meet a new match. He has met nearly a dozen women but not yet "fixed" on anyone.

"Indeed, this case put a lot of pressure on us because he was not only picky but we also have a deadline to meet."

To meet the demand for finding a lover during the festive season, Denise and her colleagues have prepared for both scenarios: setting up dating events that still meet the city's requirement on group gatherings or completely hold events online.

"In the digital age, online activities still provide an interesting experience, especially when 100 percent of our users have their profiles verified, have real development, real relationships," Denise said.

According to Thu Trang, manager of the dating service Nguyet Anh, with the current Covid-19 situation, face-to-face activities still take place on a smaller scale and participants are required to be fully vaccinated and make medical declarations.

Mai Phuong, 29, is sad because the night before the Christmas dating event, which took place in Hanoi's Gia Lam District, was canceled because of safety concerns amid rising cases in the capital.

This is a meeting between a group of single men and women, where each participant pays VND180,000 ($7.88) for the venue, drinks, cake and others.

The dinner is organized in the form of each person bringing one food, so Phuong was very excited.

After experiencing a bad relationship, she has been single for five years.

Recently, at the urging of her family, she decided to reduce her work and spend more time going to events where she could get to know the opposite sex.

"I went on picnics a few times with groups of singles. It's a bit sad that I haven't found anyone to love," said Mai Phuong, who works in a government agency.

Duc Huy has scheduled to spend New Year Eve in his hometown with his parents. He is planning to book a service to have a coffee evening with a female friend there.

"I will have one more friend. It would be great if she is the right match for me," he said with a smile.

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