Kiss and Tell! Singles Share First Date Expectations in 2023
First dates can be filled with missteps. One person may be expecting the date to be short and sweet, while another may be hoping it will go for hours. Others may think they’ll kiss at the end of the night, while some may envision it going a lot further than that!
A new survey of nearly 1,000 singles in America is uncovering new dating rules in 2023. This summer, it looks like nearly half are dating differently because of inflation, and some are planning to embrace their singleness instead of dating!
What Americans Expect on a First Date
Cuffing season might be ending, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still looking for love. More than half (54%) of singles are hoping to end up in a relationship this summer. While 80% want to meet a romantic partner organically (ie, without apps), 49% think it will happen on a dating app or social media. Some aren’t looking for love at all with 1 in 6 (16%) embracing their singleness this summer.
One possible motive to stay single is because, in this economy, dating is expensive. Going on two or even three dates a week quickly adds up in cost. Nearly half (47%) of singles shared they are planning to “infla-date” or go on more affordable dates because of inflation.
The top cheap or free dates singles like doing are going on walks, hiking, or grabbing a cup of coffee. More Gen Zers (51%) than Millennials (42%) are planning to infla-date, and slightly more women (48%) than men (44%) are doing it. Gone are the days of pricy dinners and expensive clubs!
Maybe because of this, it looks like alcohol is no longer the norm for dating. 73% said they’d prefer a date with no alcohol. More men (76%) than women (68%) are looking for an alcohol-free date.
When it comes to that all-important first date, Americans have different expectations. 2 in 3 would like shorter first dates, and more than 4 in 5 (84%) think it’s okay to pucker up and kiss. Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) feel that sex is also on the table.
When the bill comes at the end of the night, 72% are okay with splitting it. However, fewer straight men and women feel that way. We specifically asked their preferences, and over half felt that men should pay on the first date!
As for people who identify as LGBTQIA+, an overwhelming majority feel it’s not on one person to cover the bill. 97% of people who identify as queer believe it’s more common and socially acceptable to split the bill on the first date along with 91% of lesbians, 86% of bisexuals, and 84% of people who identify as gay.
Growing Interest in Alcohol-Free Dates
One major trend right now is the phenomenon of ‘dry dating,’ in which no alcohol is consumed during the date. Nearly 1 in 3 (30%) singles said they’ve tried dry dating, and, of those, 90% liked it!
The main reason singles love dry dating is because they have more meaningful connections and better conversations. More than half (51%) shared it also makes them feel safer on dates and others said it keeps them from having post-date regrets.
In fact, the sexiest thing in 2023 for Gen Z and Millennial singles has nothing to do with the way people look and everything to do with the way they carry themselves. 81% of singles said being comfortable in yourself is the sexiest thing alive!
Other sexy traits in 2023 are having a good relationship with family, holding a full-time job, owning a home, and having no social media presence! Nearly 1 in 6 (14%) also said going to therapy is sexy. We agree!
Date or Dump? Dating Red Flags
Dating isn’t easy, and it can be especially hard when singles have differing expectations. 70% of singles feel dating rules are outdated, and 50% feel dating rules are misogynistic! More women (63%) than men (39%) consider dating rules misogynistic.
Interestingly, straight people were least likely to agree with that statement with just 43% believing these rules are misogynistic. More than 3 in 4 of those who identify as queer, pansexual, or lesbian feel it is. About 2 in 3 people who are bisexual or gay also consider the often-unspoken dating rules to be misogynistic.
At the end of the day, not every date is a winner, but there are some major red flags that singles keep an eye on when dating. The number one red flag: treating the server poorly at a restaurant. Other major concerns are if the person keeps talking over them, talking about an ex, or giving backhanded compliments.
So, what is acceptable and not acceptable to talk about on a first date in 2023? Singles feel it’s okay to talk about things like mental health, political views, religious views, and even sexual desires. But they would prefer to save conversations on finances, sexual history, and past trauma for later on down the road if the relationship progresses.
Therapy & Dating
With more people comfortable talking about mental health on date one, conversations surrounding that topic, including therapy, are becoming more normalized. In fact, 77% consider it a positive if a date has gone to therapy, and 24% said they’re more likely to date someone who’s gone to therapy.
But the increasing acceptance and interest in therapy mean more people are also using therapy-based terms to define their relationships and others. Nearly 2 in 5 (39%) have armchair diagnosed a date or partner before! That’s when someone who isn’t a trained mental health professional speculates on a person’s mental health diagnosis, symptoms, or treatment. Singles have called a date or partner everything from manipulative (33%) to narcissistic (29%) or even accused them of gaslighting (27%).
It’s important to remember that therapists are trained healthcare professionals. While it might be tempting to figure out just what was clinically wrong with an ex, armchair diagnosing the mental health of anyone should be avoided; it stigmatizes those with diagnoses and makes it feel harder to seek treatment. Dating and relationships are hard: that’s why we offer relationship therapy. Don’t forget that therapists are always here to help you on your journey.
In March 2023, we surveyed 977 single Gen Z & Millennials to get their feedback on dating. Survey respondents ranged in age from 18 to 42 with an average age of 28. 49% were Millennials and 51% were Gen Z. 49% were men, 45% were women, 3% were non-conforming, 1% were trans-men, 1% were trans-women, and 1% had a different identity.
67% identified as heterosexual (straight), 15% bisexual, 4% lesbian, 4% pansexual, 3% gay, 3% asexual, 3% queer, and 1% other.
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When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing Thriving Center of Psychology