As fall approaches and the temperature changes, so does the dating landscape. Many singles, especially Gen Z and Millennials, turn to apps to seek partners this season, whether for serious dating or casual.

The term “cuffing season” refers to this time of year when the desire to have a partner to “cuddle” or “cuff” becomes more pronounced. Yet, numerous distractions can keep one from truly connecting in our tech-heavy era. How can young singles find genuine connections during this time?

Hinge recently launched their “distraction-free” dating guide just in time for cuffing season.

“At Hinge, we’ve researched how our tech habits impact our ability to create and maintain relationships. We recently found that a third of Gen Z daters are feeling distracted on dates, and three out of four admit that being on their phone prevents good conversation and makes them more hesitant to open up on a date,” said Logan Ury, a behavioral scientist turned dating coach.

“Research shows that Gen Z is feeling lonelier than any other generation, with the average time spent hanging out with friends dropping from 150 minutes per day to just 40 minutes since 2003. As a result, many people turn to dating apps to combat feelings of loneliness and seek connection with others,” she continued.

Ury is the Director of Relationship Science at Hinge and authored the book, “How To Not Die Alone.” She has a passion for helping people find their true love. Ury spoke with 21Ninety about Hinge’s “distraction-free” dating guide and her recommendations on navigating cuffing season distraction-free.   

Dating This Cuffing Season

Most people rarely put their phones down, even regarding dating. You even need your phone for the dating apps you use to find your partner. Therefore, it is up to an individual to be intentional when not allowing their phones to interfere with their dating life.

“Embracing distraction-free dating allows you to be present and intentional along your dating journey,” Ury explained. “Another important element of distraction-free dating is only talking to a couple of people at a time. That way, you can give each connection a chance to grow and can also compare how you’re feeling with each one.”

“If you go overboard and chat with too many people at once or constantly fill in your calendar with first dates, you will likely feel overwhelmed, burned out, and less able to choose one person to commit to,” she continued.

And the last thing someone wants to do is put more pressure on themselves when dating.

The ‘Monet Effect’

Ury doesn’t recommend solely using the phone to get to know someone because you can “get stuck in the phone-zone.”

“When you message too much before your first date, you often create a fantasy of the other person in your mind and get stuck in the phone zone. I refer to this phenomenon as the ‘Monet Effect.’ When we don’t know the whole story about someone, our brains fill in the gaps positively and create a fantasy of them in our heads. fantasy,” Ury said. “Thanks to the Monet Effect, people we don’t know well can seem far more desirable than they actually are.”

“But once they materialize as real people standing before us, we see their flaws. Even if the person is wonderful, we may feel let down by their real-life selves, as they don’t align with the idealized version we had imagined,” Ury added.

Gen Z v. Everyone

For Gen Z, dating during cuffing season has taken a digital-first approach, distinct from previous generations. Raised in an era where technology is second nature, many Gen Z individuals initiate and nurture relationships through apps, social media, and online platforms.

While Baby Boomers and Gen X might reminisce about the charm of old-school courtship, like meeting through friends or at social events, Gen Z harnesses the power of technology to connect, communicate, and even define their relationship boundaries. Yet, despite these differences, the core longing for genuine connection during cuffing season remains a shared experience across all generations.

“Technology addiction and loneliness are a serious problem for people of all ages. Technology addiction and loneliness are serious problems for people of all ages. Gen Z gets a bad rap for this. That being said, Gen Z did suffer a setback because many of them came of age during the pandemic, and their social skills took a hit. That causes some of them to use their phone as a crutch in awkward social situations,” Ury explained.

Ury noted that the older generations are most active on Facebook or constantly on their smartphone devices while out at a restaurant.

‘Distraction-Free’ Dating Guide

Photo Courtesy of Hinge Inc.

Hinge unveiled its ‘Distraction-Free Dating’ guide. In collaboration with the Foundation for Social Connection, this guide urges daters to limit distractions when getting to know potential matches.

Data from Hinge highlighted that over 80% of users advocated for “phone away” dates. Three out of four respondents feel guarded when their date is on their phone. Interestingly, millennials observe the impact of phone distractions more than Gen Z during dates. This guide introduces Hinge users to practical advice from Ury and Love and Connection Expert Moe Ari Brown. It also suggested 20 engaging date ideas to bolster chemistry.

“When someone doesn’t pay attention to you or your needs, it makes you feel disconnected and resentful. No matter how long you’ve been in a relationship, it’s important to spend quality time together. That means time away from the TV, your phone, or other screens,” commented Ury.

The ‘Distraction-Free Dating’ guide is now accessible directly in the Hinge app.