Are Singles Dating Smarter?

Singles in America: Match Releases Largest Study on

U.S. Single Population for Eighth Year

Match, the world’s largest relationship company, today released findings from its eighth annual Singles in America study – the nation’s largest, most comprehensive annual survey of 5,000+ single people living in the U.S. The 2017 survey captures surprising data and trends on shifting gender norms, the evolving rules of casual dating, the complications presented by technology and social media, as well as attitudes about love, sex, and relationships across generations.

“Singles are fundamentally redefining courtship in healthy and creative ways,” says Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and Chief Scientific Advisor to Match. “Some hang out for months before they kiss; some hop into bed immediately; and many begin with the traditional first date. Courtship is expanding–and all these tactics are proving successful for launching love. Moreover, the first date is taking on important new significance: where it used to be just a casual look-see, now the first date often signals the official beginning of a romance. And singles want to define every step toward love–with a host of new rules on social media. Most exciting to me, 72% of singles would date ‘across the aisle.’ For most singles, romance is more important than politics. I’m not surprised. The human brain is built to love.”

Key takeaways from this year’s study include:


Today, more than half of U.S. singles have tried online dating or dating apps. In fact, in 2017, the internet was the #1 place where singles met their last first date.

Friends? Sex? First Dates? Three paths to romance: Today’s singles are looking for something serious (69%) and they have an array of ways to get there. 1) 40% build the friendship first, known as hanging out, where they skip the sex and haven’t gone out on an official first date. 2) 55% of singles have had a Friends with Benefits relationship. 3) 44% of singles have gone out on an official first date.  And many singles pursue a combination of all three strategies at one time or another.

Hanging Out: “Hanging out” has become a new path to find companionship and 29% of singles who have been hanging out with someone has had that relationship turn serious.  Many singles believe that a wider array of behaviors are appropriate when hanging out than when on an official first date, including:

  • Asking you out the day of is more acceptable when hanging out (48% approve when hanging out versus 27% approve on a first date)
  • Splitting the bill is more permissible when hanging out (48% approve versus 29% who approve of this on an official first date)
  • Inching toward physical intimacy. Only 37% of singles say kissing is OK when hanging out, while 64% believe this is appropriate on a first date.

Friends with Benefits: 55% of singles have had a Friends with Benefits relationship and 45% have had one turn into a committed relationship. However only 19% actively seek out Friends with Benefits relationships (27% of men and 12% of women), and 88% of women and 73% of men say “it just happens.” Most are friends first, before the benefits (71% of men and 80% of women). Most singles agree that:

  • Close friends of your Friends with Benefits are off limits to date (62%) and 69% of singles agree that close friends can’t be told about your relationship.
  • One must disclose all other current sexual partners: 61%
  • Birth Control or Condoms must be used: 92%

The First Date. 44% of singles went on a first date in 2017 and today, there’s new significance placed on this occasion. Singles have stricter rules about what is appropriate on an official first date compared to when in a Friends with Benefits relationship or Hanging Out, including:

  • Asking you out 2-3 days in advance is appropriate first date behavior (54% approve compared to 27% approve of asking you out the day of).
  • Having a first date at a nice restaurant is more acceptable on a first date (59% of singles approve compared to only 22% believe fast food is OK for that first date).
  • Perfect Ending: Half of singles approve of just a peck on the cheek while on the first date and 64% of singles approve of kissing.

The More, the Merrier: 40% of singles have dated more than one person at a time. And it’s not just Millennials. Gen Xers are 129% more likely and Boomers are 224% more likely than Millennials to have dated more than one person at a time. It’s not just men either. More women (69%) than men (51%) have dated several people simultaneously. And few singles (19%) who had dated multiple people at the same time do it because they want to have sex with multiple partners.

New Etiquette on Social Media: Nearly two-thirds of singles use social media at least once a day, although women use it more than men (72% of women; 59% of men). But there are rules emerging:

  • Before the first date – Create Boundaries:  Less than one-fifth of singles say it’s OK to friend someone on Facebook (19%), follow them on Instagram (17%), add them on Snapchat (19%), or Like a photo or post (20%) before the first date.
  • After a few dates – Start to be more Social: 36% of singles say it’s time to start following a date on Instagram; while another 33% say they’ve already started; 75% of singles are also friends on Facebook and 76% are direct messaging.
  • Committed Relationship – Making it official52% say it’s acceptable to friend their friends, 66% say it’s time to make it Facebook official (although 13% say they’d never do this), 66% say it’s acceptable to change your profile picture to a photo of you two; and 64% say changing your phone screen to a couple photo is fine when in a committed relationship.


At a time when there’s increased focus to respecting boundaries and paying closer attention to what people want, new data explores how the modern single can become a more conscientious dater.

How women want to feel on a first date: The #1 way women want to feel on a date is comfortable (79%), followed by happy (35%) and liked (27%).

What women say is appropriate on a first date: On a great first date, 94% of women want their date to compliment her appearance, to be waiting for her when she arrives (90%), to hug her (82%), kiss her on the cheek (71%) and insist on paying the bill (91% of women approve of this however 45% think it’s appropriate to split the bill).

What women say is NOT OK on a first date: Checking your phone regularly on the first date is the #1 turn-off for women with only one in 10 women thinking this is appropriate, while 1 in 4 men think this is OK. Other turnoffs include:

  • Drink #3.  More than 80% of women think it’s not appropriate to have more than 2 drinks on a first date.
  • Rude to wait staff – 38% of women find this a turn-off.
  • Arriving more than 15 minutes late (1 in 4 men think this is OK first date behavior).
  • Asking a woman for a bite of her food/drink – 58% of women don’t like this.


What makes good sex? “Americans are having long overdue conversations about people’s diverse sexual lives, respect, pleasure, and consent,” says Dr. Justin Garcia, gender studies endowed professor and research scientist at The Kinsey Institute, and Scientific Advisor to Match. “Singles of all ages, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, and genders report that an enthusiastic, caring, and communicative partner are the key ingredients for a pleasurable sexual experience, which further emphasizes that affirmative consent and mutual respect and engagement is paramount to good sex.”

Good (Consensual) Sex: Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, 83% of singles regard a caring partner and enthusiastic partner as the top ingredients of good sex, followed by communication (78%), being a good kisser (76%) and achieving an orgasm (75%).

Bad (Consensual) Sex: 82% of singles consider too much talking, no passion (74%), little movement (63%) and bad kissing (62%) as the major don’ts of sex.

It Gets Better Over Time: The best age for sex? Single women are having the best sex at age 66 and Men at 64.

“Mostly Hetero“: 62% of singles are interested in some form of a threesome (81% of males and 47% of females) and 39% of straight singles are interested in having a threesome that includes someone of their own gender.

Bad Sex Bell Curve: Satisfying sex rarely happens spontaneously. So while 14% of singles say bad sex during the first time is a deal breaker, the majority of singles expect partners to develop “good sex” after a few rolls in the hay. However, women are 70% less tolerant of bad sex than men.

Robogasms: There has been much discussion about the threat of robots taking our jobs, but what about our places in the bedroom? One in four singles would have sex with a robot, yet nearly half of singles would consider it cheating if their partner had sex with a robot.


Love Trumps Politics: Even in this intensely-charged political climate, singles put love first. The overwhelming majority of singles (72%) would cross party lines to date. And only 10% of singles view being a Republican as a deal breaker while only 5% regard Democrats as a no-go.

How’d You Vote? It Doesn’t Matter: In 2017 singles were more apathetic about a partner’s voting habits than they were in 2015, before President Donald Trump was elected. This includes a potential partner who:

  • Did not have an opinion on key issues. Only 13% of men and 19% of women regarded this as a deal breaker in 2017; while in 2015, 32% of men and 37% of women regarded it as a deal breaker.
  • Did not register to vote. Only 12% of men and 19% of women regarded this as a deal breaker in 2017, while in 2015, 21% of men and 29% of women thought this was a deal breaker.
  • Did not know who was running: Only 23% of men and 35% of women regarded this as a deal breaker in 2017, while in 2015, 34% of men and 39% of women regarded this as a deal breaker.

Political Civility…Coping with Different Views: In 2017, the largest percent of singles (45%) said they would try to understand the other’s perspective; 26% of singles changed the subject; or politely told their date they didn’t agree (41%). Only 5% of singles would leave immediately.

Don’t Ask, Do Tell: 54% of singles think the current political climate makes it more important to find out about a potential partner’s overall political views. But when it comes to the first date, less than a quarter (23%) are willing to ask. Only 16% of men and 18% of women think the current political climate makes them more likely to talk politics on the first date. Most avoid hot button topics–suggesting that, for singles, love trumps politics.

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