At any given moment you can find singles in coffee shops, on park benches, and at fancy restaurants meeting for their first date. But with all the changing rules in dating, who knows what’s appropriate pre-, during, and post-date these days? Match.com’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Helen Fisher presents what makes singles tick during that pivotal first meeting.
I‘m single. And I can’t help looking at statistics about sex and love and wondering where I “fit in” attitude and behavior wise. This time, it’s with first dates—it’s so difficult to know what’s appropriate! So Match.com pulled from their 2012 Singles in America study, a host of data about what singles do, how they think, and what they want on a first date.
Over 5,000 men and women of every background, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and location answered our questions, including: How many dates have you been on in 2012? How did you meet your most recent first date? Who invited whom? And more. But let’s get to the juicy part: Sex. What do American singles regard as appropriate sexual behavior on a first date?
A peck on the cheek makes the cut; over 90% of both sexes approve of this. Holding hands is also fashionable, with over 84% of both men and women regarding this as suitable on a first date. But when it comes to kissing, men favor kissing much more than women! Some 88% of men versus 65% of women regard smooching as “very appropriate” or “somewhat appropriate.” Could it be that men are more eager to kiss because they carry traces of testosterone in their saliva and unconsciously hope to share a bit of this stimulant to increase their partner’s sexual desire? Men tend to like sloppier kisses– perhaps for this unconscious reason.
Cuddling also gets more votes from men (76% of men regard snuggling as “very” or “somewhat appropriate” on a first date, while only 56% of women do). But men may be expressing a primal instinct here as well. Cuddling triggers the oxytocin system in the brain, stimulating feelings of attachment. Perhaps men intuitively hope to trigger not only the sex drive, but also feelings of tenderness and affection.
But how about sex— what’s proper these days? Well, Dallas might be your mecca if you are hoping to have sex on the first date. Some 31% of singles regard it as “very appropriate” or “somewhat appropriate.” And 41% of New York men agree, the most of any city polled.
But less than 10% of men and 2% of women actually have sex upon meeting. I’m not surprised. Sex activates five of your 12 cranial nerves, engulfing your brain with information about how your partner tastes, smells, feels, sounds and looks— as well as broadcasting much about how you are. It can trigger feelings for romantic love or attachment too. Sex is not casual. And it can most certainly hurl you into a new relationship. Apparently most singles avoid this intimacy until they get to know a bit more about “him” or “her.”
It is well known in scientific circles that we tend to overestimate the amount of sex our peers are having. But this data clearly shows we aren’t losing out… at least not on the first date. Singles are far more savvy about their love lives than we give them credit for. We fit in.