The Perfect First Date, According To Science

The first date will always be awkward. Maybe even more so in the age of digital dating where the majority of first dates are also blind dates. Tinder alone sets up 1.3 million dates per week – that’s a lot of dates.

What if there was a formula to the perfect first date, one that would increase your chances of being asked on a second?

Well, there is. A clear upside of the online evolution of dating is that we now have a wealth of data that can be deconstructed. Data becomes knowledge, and knowledge is power. In this case, the power to get you a second date.

Match (the company that owns dating sites Tinder and OKCupid) studied 5500 daters last year in a survey called Singles in America. It’s the job of their in-house Biological Anthropologist, Helen Fisher, to make sense of the information they gathered.

What she discovered is the recipe to a fool-proof first date. It should go for just over two-hours, and it should be over drinks only. No dinner, just drinks. Fisher says that over drinks, “You’re going to end up being more social, more talkative, and showing more of who you are.”

Fisher says that a date over drinks “is extremely well built to assemble data about a potential partner.” This is because meals bring too much pressure – higher cost and higher expectations. Not to mention there is a longer wait for a way out if it’s all going pear-shaped.

Finally, the dating tip we’ve been waiting for: stay casual, stay cheap.


Apparently there’s one particular moment in every first date in which you and will really get to know each other. It’s right between the first and second round of margaritas.

Fisher explains that “just as your bartender is getting itchy for you to order another round” is the exact moment you and your date are exposed to the elements. You are forced to communicate, negotiate and to make decisions. Do we stay for another drink? Do we move on? It’s also the moment where you’ll pass judgements on one another. Do they have good taste in wine? Were they polite to the waiter?

For a deeper insight into Fisher’s work, check out her TED Talk on how our brains behave when we fall in love.

[h/t: Washington Post, Science of Us]