New Research Reveals 2 'First Date Tactics' That Actually Work

Men and women want different things from a first date, here's what you need to know.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | August 18, 2023

A recent study published in Sexuality and Culture explores first date tactics and their impact on the success of romantic encounters. It discusses the intricate dynamics that come into play during initial romantic interactions and sheds light on the factors that contribute to a positive dating experience.

To better understand this phenomenon, James Moran, a social and behavioral health psychologist at the University of Florida conducted a study examining dating behaviors using the Netflix show Dating Around as a basis for analysis.

When asked about his motivation for the study, Moran shared, "I was motivated to study this topic because I was out with friends, and we were all observing a really bad date at a bar. I was a Master's Student at the time and studying relationship science and was curious as to whether anyone had investigated behaviors that are utilized on first dates, and curious as to how we might be able to determine the effectiveness of these actions."

Moran and his team conducted two studies: one to identify the actions used on a first date and another to determine how effective those actions are. For the first study, participants were asked to list behaviors they believed would lead to successful first dates. The responses were organized based on consensus.The second study involved coding the dating behaviors from the Netflix show Dating Around to assess their predictive power for obtaining second dates.

The findings revealed several key tactics or behaviors that were important for successful first dates for both men and women.

  • Men reported that having a deep conversation was the top tactic they would use, while women emphasized the importance of telling jokes and being funny. Other common behaviors included complimenting, listening, and being kind.
  • Interestingly, women were the only ones who reported that they would consider kissing on a first date, while also suggesting that getting too drunk during a first date is a bad idea.

The study found significant gender differences with regard to the perception of dating behavior. For instance:

  • Women believed that men would be more successful on a date if they engaged in "etiquette" behaviors, such as being attentive, polite, and kind.
  • On the other hand, men perceived that women who engaged in "involvement" behaviors, such as flirting, holding hands, complimenting, and drinking alcohol, would have better chances of success on a first date.

For those who are looking to secure a second date, the research offers the following advice:

  • Men should engage in more "etiquette" style behaviors, as women tended to perceive men as better daters when they displayed attentiveness, politeness, and kindness and engaged in meaningful conversations.
  • Women should consider more "involvement" behaviors, such as flirting and holding hands, as these actions signal interest to men, keeping in mind the comfort level of both parties.

Additionally, having a catalog of these behaviors could help individuals plan their actions on a date, leading to a potentially less stressful and more enjoyable dating experience.

While the study provides valuable insights into first date tactics, the researchers acknowledge the need for further research to better understand the intricacies of dating behaviors and the degree of influence they might have on the success of a first date.

A full interview with Psychologist James Moran discussing his research can be found here: Research reveals what men and women want from a first date