No one can deny that technology has dramatically changed the way we date in recent years. But no matter how much you swipe or sext, one hurdle remains largely unchanged: the gauntlet of excitement and anxiety we call the first date.
Let's start with the decisions that Tinder won't make for you: the restaurant, outfit, and greeting (Hug? Kiss on the cheek? Handshake?). Then there are the ice breakers ("Got any siblings?") that always seem more futile than fun. Make it past the entree without an awkward moment, and you'll still need to navigate the tricky question of who picks up the check. You start wishing you'd stayed home instead - Netflix is never this complicated.
We hear you, eligible singles; but dating doesn't have to be so hard. In fact, first dates can even lead to getting frisky, if that's what you're into, of course. To help you achieve first date fulfillment, we asked 1,000 Americans about the traits and behaviors they appreciated that led them to getting it on during date one or to a potential date two. If you're hoping to take the express lane to physical intimacy, the opinions of this crowd will show you what it takes to get there. Our results reveal the keys you need to make any first date a smashing success (just promise you won't use that pun when you're with them).
Best Chance Behavior
As a whole, men expressed more experience and enthusiasm related to first date sex than did our female respondents. In fact, more than 6 in 10 men recalled getting it on with a partner after a single outing together - and most of those who hadn't were eager to change that. They better keep their expectations in check, however: A recent poll found the average person thinks eight dates is the appropriate precoital waiting period.
If you're hoping for instant intimacy, though, you'll be interested in learning which turn-ons swayed those who did have first date sex to make the leap so soon. While both men and women rated sheer attraction as leading factors in their decision, women said a respectful approach was most important to them. Some other key precursors for both genders were affectionate touching and a good sense of humor. Just don't try combining the two - we'll talk about the pitfalls of tickling later.
Guarantees to Go Home Alone
Just as our respondents favored certain behaviors when deciding to get frisky after a first date, they also identified some total turn-offs. While men tended to be slightly less picky, the vast majority of all genders and age groups said they couldn't go all the way without that all-important intangible: chemistry. Other universal no-gos included making rude statements and spending too much time on the phone (hit "Do Not Disturb" mode at the table, folks).
Demographics differed on the significance of certain faux pas, however. Baby boomer women, for instance, were the only group particularly peeved by a date arriving late, and Gen X men didn't appreciate talk of financial matters. Our results showed a universal discontent about a different topical danger zone: Just don't talk about your ex, people! We can assume they're not your favorite person - unless they are, which calls your dating motives into question.
Reflecting on Getting Frisky
Among those who consummated their budding connection after just one outing, regret was relatively limited, especially for our gentlemen respondents. Seven in 10 men said they had no regrets after first date sex, and that percentage was even higher among those with a positive impression of their partner after one night together.
Women were somewhat more ambivalent, with only the slim majority expressing no regret. However, sex regret declined significantly among those who had a good impression of their date, with 72 percent expressing no remorse. These data suggest a few possible explanations. Perhaps an awkward sexual experience degraded some respondents' impressions of their dates, causing regret for sleeping with them. Or maybe regret came from those who didn't like their date very much in the first place but decided to sleep with them anyway.
First Date Fails
Even if you aren't aiming to get intimate immediately, some simply unacceptable actions will all but ensure you never see your date again. Regardless of age or gender, our respondents were very uncomfortable with actions that usually implied more intimacy than a first date provided: getting a tattoo or crying. The aforementioned ex-talk was also roundly panned as a terrible call.
Women in all age groups were more judgmental of dates who got wasted, though men weren't big fans either. Interestingly, women were far more opposed to being called by a pet name than male peers were. While psychologists suggest pet names are actually a good indicator of mutual affection and bonding within a relationship, we can't blame women for being weirded out by their use on date one, particularly when they entail sexist undertones.
The Right Touch?
Touch can be a powerful driver of intimacy when both consensual and appreciated. But it's hard to imagine a spontaneous first date foot rub will accomplish that happy outcome - though more than a third of men disagreed. Do they not remember that scene from the "Princess Diaries"? Tickling was also among the least appreciated forms of physical engagement, although some researchers have tied tickling to our sexual inclinations.
More genteel forms of touching were better received: a peck on the cheek, handholding, and even full-on kissing were generally considered sweet. As far as getting handsy, light touching and lower back contact were more widely acceptable than knee-touching. Playing "footsie" got much lower reviews among women than with men, so play it safe and keep those clodhoppers to yourself, guys.
Keys to a Repeat Appearance
When it comes to earning another outing, an interesting pattern emerges in all demographic groups: Stopping short of intercourse may leave your partner wanting more. In all groups, other forms of sexual activity were actually more likely than sex itself to increase the chances of a second date. The same principle extended to kissing. Apparently, everyone sees smooching as a great precursor to seeing more of each other.
On the ever-debated question of gender and the check, men and women were roughly equally appreciative of their partner paying for at least part of the outing in the millennial and baby boomer crowds. Gen Xers represented a striking exception, where men were much less appreciative than women of their date covering some part of the costs. These results present an interesting contrast to recent polling, which indicated traditional gender roles are still alive and well in the public's perception of who should pay.
Rolling the Dice on Meeting Someone Nice
If you're single and looking to mingle, we hope these findings give you a good sense of what your date is likely to appreciate. There's no denying that dating can be tough: Putting yourself out there means accepting the risks of rejection or an awkward encounter. But every relationship starts somewhere, and your next first date could be the first of many happy hours spent with someone special. Like anything in life, there's no reward without some risk.
At K2C, this is a principle we understand well. But with our guides and special offers, you don't have to roll the dice on a great betting experience - or a great deal. Whichever game suits you, we'll help you find the best way to play.
Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk service, we surveyed 1,000 Americans about their dating habits and preferences. In keeping with this project's focus, we chose to only include responses from those who had had sex on the first date before or would be open to the prospect.
Fair Use Statement
If you think this content is a match for your own website, you're welcome to use our findings and content for noncommercial purposes. Please attribute us fairly with a link back to this page - the only thing worse than talking about your ex is not giving credit where it's due.