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It’s Not You, It’s Me…No, Actually It’s You: Perceptions of What Makes a First Date Successful or Not


Early communication plays an important role in influencing the perceptions one has of an individual. The first form of in-person communication individuals often have with potential romantic partners is during the first date. This date tends to take on the form of a “dance” involving carefully orchestrated conversation and self-disclosures. What is said is certainly important, as are the behaviors exhibited by each member of the dyad. This study examined how individuals interpreted what potential romantic partners say and do during, or immediately following, the first date to get a sense of how they perceive these actions and words. Special attention was placed on the participants’ interpretations of whether or not their date was attracted to them. A survey was given to 390 participants, and many interesting differences were found between the genders. Certain behaviors, such as steering the conversation to the topic of sex signaled to men that their date was attracted to them. However, women looked for different behaviors to infer attraction on the part of their partner, such as mentioning future plans and kissing them goodbye. With a better understanding of how certain phrases and actions influence others, people can be more aware of the signals sent to others upon their pivotal initial encounters.

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Correspondence to Marisa T. Cohen.

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The author declares she has no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Cohen, M.T. It’s Not You, It’s Me…No, Actually It’s You: Perceptions of What Makes a First Date Successful or Not. Sexuality & Culture 20, 173–191 (2016).

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  • First dates
  • Perceptions of behaviors
  • Gender differences