Your First Date Expectations Guide

Your First Date Expectations Guide from ZAVA UK

Ever climbed out of the bathroom window during a bad first date? How about slept with your new paramour on a good one? And what is it that keeps you coming back for more or drives you out the door without as much as a goodbye?

We asked over 1,000 Europeans and Americans these questions and more to find out what dating expectations look like in the U.S. and Europe, and how we can all be just a little smoother on our next first date. Continue reading to learn what we discovered.

Going all the way on a first date

the percentage of people who would consider sleeping with someone on their first date

Ever had a first date with so much chemistry that you just couldn’t resist? If so, you’re definitely not alone.

76% of European and American men would sleep with someone on a first date. Women were a bit more reticent, but a large number were still game, with 42% of European women and 37% of American women willing to consider a romp after a good first date.

Interestingly, according to another survey, 70% of people have had at least one one-night stand. So perhaps even those who said no to having sex on the first date reserve the right to change their mind (after all, research says women often want sex more than they admit). Or perhaps they’ve tried it and decided to take things slower in the future.

Getting out of a bad first date

what would people do if a first date went badly

According to our survey, 6% of European men and 2% of European and American women have snuck away from a bad first date without so much as saying goodbye.

Of course, most people are a bit too polite for that: 73% of American women would stick out a bad first date and leave as soon as it’s over, or give the date a chance and stay a while. European men felt similarly, with 63% willing to stick around at least until the date is over. Of any group in our survey, European women had the least tolerance for bad dates: only 51% would stay.

The best places for first dates

the best places to have a first date split by gender

Where’s the best place to have a first date? Well, according to both European and American men and women, it’s a restaurant or coffee shop.

Interestingly, one of the world’s top dating experts disagrees with the second option, saying coffee dates are a romance killer 99% of the time.

Luckily, our survey respondents have plenty of backup plans. Over 60% of men and women think doing something outdoors is a great option. 50% of women love the idea of a zoo or aquarium, and 53% of men like the idea of heading to the bar.

However, survey respondents were unanimous in saying swinger or sex clubs, weddings, and dance clubs were bad choices for a first date. And this is hardly surprising, as the potential risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have serious health consequences.

It's crucial to prioritize personal safety and take necessary precautions, such as using protection and engaging in open conversations about sexual health. Regular check-ups, including the utilization of home STI testing kits, are essential in maintaining one's well-being and preventing the spread of infections.

Giving dates a chance

the fates people would consider going on if single

Whether our dates are bad or inspire us to head back to their place, where are we looking for love? Where do American and European men and women meet the people they date?

For American men, the answers were diverse. They would date friends, people they just met, social media pals, and pretty much anyone else you can think of. However, American women were most likely to date a friend or someone they were out of touch with for a long time but who had recently re-entered into their life. This aligns with research that found nearly 39% of people find their significant others through friends.

European men were also more diverse in their dates than their female counterparts, though they were much less likely than American men to date online. And European women, like American women, were most likely to date friends or old acquaintances.

It's a date 2.0

the top 10 reasons people would go on a second date

So what makes a date good and what sends us running for the hills? Survey says a sense of humour. This ranked No. 1 for most of our respondents. If you’ve got some jokes, you’ve probably got date No. 2 in the bag.

But don’t worry if you’re not a jokester. 77% of women and 66% of men would want to go out again if the person across the table seemed genuinely interested in their point of view. And over 50% would go out on a second date with someone interested in their personal life, their work life or were chivalrous.

Men also responded enthusiastically to first date affection, with 62% saying if their date kissed them, they’d want a second date.

Check, please

the top 10 reasons people would not go on a second date

On the other side of the dating spectrum, there are definitely some things we can do to ruin those first dates. 84% of women and 74% of men would say no to a second date if their date had poor hygiene. Seventy-four percent of women and 32% of men said a terrible sense of humour was a deal breaker. And 73% of women and 62% of men said they wouldn’t schedule another date if their date checked out other people.

Interestingly, 39% of women wouldn’t go on a second date with someone who asked them to come back to their place – a big disconnect when you consider men are three times more likely to use a one-night stand as a way to start a relationship. The silver lining for randy fellows? High-earning women are said to be more likely to have sex on the first date.

Who's paying on the first date?

who should pay on the first date?

So you’re on a first date and the bill comes – who picks up the check?

For European and American men, the most common answer was the man. European women felt strongly that the couple should split the check. And American women felt the person who did the asking was also the person who should do the paying.

First date conversations: the do's and dont's

the least acceptable topics to discuss on a first date

We all know nobody wants you to drone on endlessly about your ex on a first date … but what other topics are off the table?

According to our survey, men and women across both continents agreed exes, sexual preferences, and potty humour were the top three no-nos, followed by health, politics, and religion.

That said, men tended to be slightly more flexible. 91% of European women and 93% of American women said exes were unacceptable, but only 90% of European men and 85 percent of American men felt the same. Eighty-eight percent of women said sexual preferences were off the table, but only 72% of European men and 68% of American men agreed.

First date expectations

First dates – some hate them, while others love them. Some jump in headfirst. Some hold back. But at the end of the day, all people looking for love have to have them.

So how do you get more first dates – and how can you get a second date with that sexy new acquaintance? According to our survey, honing your sense of humour, practising healthy hygiene, and showing genuine interest in the other person’s ideas, life, and work are a pretty good start. And for American men, taking things slow may also increase your chances of date No. 2.

Poor hygiene may have been respondents’ top turnoff, but truly taking care of yourself goes deeper than applying deodorant. For your sexual health needs, ZAVA offers a range of quick and confidential consultation services to keep you feeling great as you head to your next date. Learn how ZAVA delivers discreet online health services and solutions.


We surveyed over 1,000 Europeans and Americans and asked them what they thought about first dates.

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