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Facebook Data Reveals The Peak Seasons For Breakups

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Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home. According to Facebook data analysts, the season is also prime time for daters to “clear the clutter” in their love lives - in other words, it’s breakup season.

In a paper from 2014, Lars Backstrom of Facebook and Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University analyzed user data from Facebook in search of insight into modern love lives. Amongst other things, they found that:

  • About half of all Facebook relationships that have survived three months are likely to survive to four years or longer
  • Heterosexual couples are generally around the same age, even as they get older
  • Same-sex couples display the stereotypical age gap as they grow older, leveling off at about 4.5 years difference after age 38
  • How much interest couples have in each other is a better predictor of love than having a lot of friends in common

The research team also discovered seasonal variation in relationships (at least amongst Facebook users). Breakups tend to spike in spring and again in summer - perhaps something to do with warmer weather, skimpier clothing, and a sudden urge to get frisky with all those sweaty, scantily-clad people.

It’s essentially the natural opposite of cuffing season, the name given to the autumn and winter months when formerly happy singles suddenly want to settle into serious relationships.

Science appears to back up the data. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and Rutgers University's Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, believes there could be a biological basis for the phenomenon. She likens it to spring fever - love, like the pollen that causes the season’s spike in allergies, is in the air. If you’re not satisfied in your current relationship, you’re more likely to do something about it.

"With more sunlight, people have more energy, more optimism, more interest in the future," she told Philly.com. "If they look around their home and say, 'This isn't working,' perhaps this is the time they have the energy to do something about it."

Steven Ward of Fairmount, chief executive of Master Matchmakers, confirms that he too has see the seasonal trend amongst his clients.

“This time of year, we see a huge uptick of people who want to do what you can call spring cleaning. They want to clean house. They want to get out of a toxic, bad relationship, to stop doing what they’ve been doing,” he said.

Gayle Crist, a dating and divorce coach from Ambler, says spring and fall are her busy seasons.

"I would say people get energized at springtime in a way to kind of follow through on things they have promised themselves," she theorizes. "The absolute busiest time for online dating is January, when people want to follow through on resolutions, but with spring people get recharged."

So if you’re suddenly feeling unsettled in your relationship, science is on your side. The coming months could be the perfect time to explore something new. For more on using Facebook to find a date you can read our Facebook review.