Being single again for the first time in a hot minute, I decided to do some research on the world out there that awaits us lonely wanderers — what the dating experts say on relationships. In doing so, I uncovered some interesting, alarming and a couple sadly unsurprising statistics. Some of them confirmed awful fears (and made the feminist in me cringe) and others made me want to hi-five a million angels.
I don’t personally agree with all of these things (and some of it’s a little dubious to me), but here’s what the “experts” say about dating. As they say, knowledge is power:
1. You can’t put a timeline on a relationship, and there’s no telling when exclusivity is right for you, but according to a study from Lisa Daily, most couples get into an “exclusive” relationship after 6 to 8 dates.
2. Daily’s study also suggests that men know when they’re falling for someone as soon as three dates in. Women take longer, reporting the same feelings around date 14. Interestingly, that’s exactly the same time that most couples say they exchange keys to each other’s homes: between the 12th and 14th date.
3. Singledom is inertia. According to a commonly cited statistic from Neil Clark Warren, over half of people who report their relationship status as “single” say they haven’t been on a date in two years. There’s potentially a reason for this. When polled, 40% of men say that they are “scared” when first interacting with a potential mate.
4. Deciding whether you want to be in a relationship with someone is a protracted, often excruciating process of tests and feats of physical strength, like Heracles’ labors or a holiday at home with your parents. However, knowing whether you want to have sex with someone is much simpler. According to Psychologists at UPenn, most people say they know within the first three seconds if they would fuck someone or not.
5. They say that most of communication is non-verbal, and “they” are right. Most women (57%) said that their first impressions of a guy are based off of his body language and self-presentation. Just 38% judged him on how he speaks and a low 7% cared about what he actually said. So, basically, women and men aren’t that different after all.
6. Of course, body type matters in attracting a mate, but being “too skinny” counts against you much less than being overweight. Although overweight people are viewed highly unfavorably (even amongst children), people are more likely to ascribe positive characteristics to skinny people. According to Victoria Zdrock, they are often seem as “intelligent,” although “fearful,” as if every thin person were Woody Allen.
7. Although cultural norms suggest that men should always do the asking, Match.com polling reports that 91% of men who use the site are comfortable with a woman asking them out. Suck on that, patriarchy.
8. As far as who pays, Match suggests that increasing amounts of Americans are eschewing the traditional rule that the man pays for the first date. Between 2010 and 2012, the number of people who said that whoever did the asking should do the paying shot up from 21% to 32%, a 50% increase in just two years.
9. During the same time period, women were increasingly initiating nookie — because, hey, they’re horny, too. In 2010, just over a third of women said that they would make the first move, but last year, almost half reported taking that initial baby step.
10. According to AskMen.com, Italian and Chinese food are a favorites on dates, although Italian may be best prepared at home. They recommend Sushi for a second or third date and more adventurous choices like Moroccan or Ethopian for later dates, when you know if they would be into that sort of thing. (This is how you know you have a keeper.) Greek is best consumed on a double date.
11. There’s a particular reason for the no Greek rule or Ethiopian rule: They aren’t great on the mouth, a huge deal for singles. When meeting a partner, two of the biggest considerations — commonly cited across gender lines — are the cleanliness of their teeth and the freshness of their breath. Next time, dudes, pop an Altoid before that date. Another big turn off is negativity, so smile when you do it.
12. According to Victoria Zdrock (aka Dr. Z), women said that ten of their biggest turn-offs were farting/burping, unkempt cuticles, nose hair, bad taste in eyeglasses, bad hair, acne, “man boobs” and when their date is missing a tooth. However, Betty White is missing a lot of teeth and seems to be doing fine, so I guess it’s not transferrable across age and gender.
13. In more gender fuckery, women are more likely than men to say that they need independence in a relationship. Women report much higher needs of personal space, with 93% saying its very important to them, compared to 81% of men. While 63% of men say that they need their own finances in a serious relationship, a much higher 77% of women affirm that they want to keep those bank accounts separate.
14. In statistics that make me more sad, one study says that a woman will up her likelihood of divorce by 5% for every $5000 dollars she earns over her husband’s salary. But if it ended badly, she might win in the end. Research has shown that divorce is a killer — shortening male life expectancy by almost 4 years.
15. Should a couple break up, the average breakup time is between the three and five month period, when things are just starting to get serious. Most breakups are announced on a Monday, because what could be worse than going back to work, amirite?
16. If you date online, you can often expect to break up online. According to the Match singles, 48% of their breakups took place over email. Luckily, though, only 5% of total breakups occurred over text message.
17. Although you can meet someone just about anywhere, workplace relationships have a strangely high success rate — if your goal is to put a ring on it. Around 40% of romances that start at the water cooler result in marriage. So make sure to wear that freakum dress to your next office party ladies. Beyonce is watching.
18. If you live in New York or Washington and are looking for love, you may be in luck. According to 2009 Census stats, those two states have the highest percentages of singles — with Washington reporting a whopping 70%. But Idaho has the highest rate of married folks at 60%. Utah is close behind at 59%. Insert your jokes here.
19. Also, you know how those girls on Sex and the City always complained about how there were so many single women but so few single men? That might be true, as the Census suggests. Nationally there are 86 eligible males for every 100 women. However, there are 100 million single people in the US, so one of them has to work out — at least I hope.
20. Side fact that I have no proof to back up: For the gays in the audience, there are 100 bottoms for every top. This isn’t true, even though it could be, but goddamn it feels that way sometimes.
21. A survey in Glamour Magazine found that most women don’t want to buy sex toys online. 66% preferred to do it in person, like shopping for a new dress or a clutch. 61% of those women said the reason was that they found the experience of buying it to be a turn-in in and of itself. The part where your vibrator thrusts inside you all night is just an added, wonderful bonus.
22. As far as sexual fantasies go, ABC reports that the most common is having sex outside — with a whopping 57% of the population saying they’re into that. Only 14% of folks have had a threesome, but 21% of them have thought about it. (IMO, that means 86% of people need to have threesomes.) Less than a fifth of people have cheated on their partner, but much more of them have fantasized about doing so: Almost a third. Just over half of Americans say that they discuss these fantasies with their partners.
23. 48% of women say that they have faked an orgasm. 52% of women are liars. 25% of women will never achieve orgasm through sexual intercourse alone. The other 75% better have partners who will go down on them — or 100% of those men should be single.
24. In weird facts that seem apropros of nothing, a majority of women report being attracted to men who dress in blue on the first date. Too bad about that Blue Power Ranger then. All the good ones are gay — right, ladies? Except for Bradley Cooper. I hold out hope.
25. Men often say that they like the natural look on a woman, but they’re dirty fucking liars. A memorable segment on Girl Code argued that “natural” for most men is Kim Kardashian, because they don’t think she’s wearing any makeup. And research shows that a) Kim Kardashian is wearing a ton of fucking makeup and b) men like that anyway. TLC and Chemistry.com found that a woman in a bar will be approached an average of six minutes more quickly if she’s painted up.
26. According to the same set of statistics, men like their women to be “60 pounds lighter” than they are. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t usually date women — because by that measure, I would be dating skeletons and children.
27. Although we think that queer people are more into “hookup culture” than their het counterparts (“the gay lifestyle,” or whatever that means), that’s actually not true at all. Queer folks (all those on the LGBTQ spectrum) are more likely to report that “romance” is most important to them in a relationship. The rates are 38% for gay men, 36% for lesbians and 32% for overall single people.
28. Be careful what you’re sharing over the technology. According to Match.com, 48% of women and 38% of men say that they research someone online before they go out with them, and similar numbers state that they would flake on a date because they found something they didn’t like. If you’re sexting with your date, like a majority of the population do, know that almost a quarter of people say that they show them to other people. So be mindful when sharing nudes.
29. Lastly, we’re told that being in a relationship and being single are completely different, but those ol’ Match.com statistics show that’s not the case. Single people go out just as often as partnered folks do. When asked if they’re out 1-3 times each week, 52% of singles said yes, and the figure for relationshippers was nearly identical (46%). So, single people, don’t let anyone tell you that the grass is greener on the other side. That grass still gets shitfaced and makes stupid decisions at the bar, just like you do. Booze is the great equalizer.
What do you think about these dating “facts?” Are they true for you? Sound off in the comments.