Half of Americans Believe Dating Now is Worse Than 20 Years Ago

Seven in ten men pay on the first date

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jinhee Yi Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, February 3, 2020 — A new Ipsos poll finds that nearly half of Americans believe dating now is worse than dating 20 years ago (49%) with men significantly more likely than women to believe dating now is better (33% and 19% respectively). Seven in 10 men say they pay when they go on a first date, and the top reason for this is because it is just a habit to pay (43%). The top reason that women pay is due to their desire to demonstrate that they possess enticing qualities (26%) while 29% say they never pay for a first date.

A third of men (33%) and a quarter of women have used dating apps. The top reason for both men and women for using dating apps is to find a serious relationship with one partner (57% and 61% respectively). Men are significantly more likely to use dating apps to find both casual and serious relationships with multiple partners (28% and 13% respectively compared to 10% and 3% of women).

On average, Americans consider the normal chain of events when it comes to dating to be: Meeting someone, going on a date, meeting parents/family, sleeping together, going on vacation together, moving in together and then marriage. Two in five Americans believe three months is an acceptable time to discuss being exclusive with a partner (39%). Only 11% view having sex with someone on the first date as having a positive impact on the future of the relationship. Men are more likely to view this positively than women (18% and 5% respectively).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 29-30, 2019. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 459 males and 546 females.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,005, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points for males, and plus or minus 4.8 percentage points for females.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829


The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jinhee Yi Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs