What Men And Women Love (And Hate) On First Dates

New research into what earns people a second date with someone they like offers guidance on what to avoid.

woman intrusively curious about her date Kevin Malik via Canva | OhmZ via Canva | evgenyatamanenko  via Canva

As a mom of 19, 20, and 27-year-old males, I have heard much about first-date disappointments. And as a support group leader for women experiencing separation and divorce, I have heard much about first-date expectations. It can be quite a conundrum!

Recently, I came across a fun study exposing gender differentiations regarding traits and habits that get people beyond the first date in heterosexual couplings. This study produced three general categories: etiquette, involvement, and behavior.


The study revealed women want men who are well-behaved and kind, and men value women who are engaging and display interest.

Soon after reading this study, I was vacationing abroad with my single sons and several of their friends. I also met up with my single sister-in-law and several of her 40 (plus) friends, and I couldn't help but put this study to the test with both groups.

My only question: What do and don't you appreciate on first dates?

My study, conducted as a game of round robin at the dinner table in Mykonos with beer and wine flowing, yielded some interesting answers and dynamics from the young men and later sipping prosecco under the Castus Beach tents in Anavyssos with the women.


For starters, the focus was immediately on what was not appreciated. Perhaps a few burns are still painful?

RELATED: 100 Great Questions And Things To Talk About On A First Date

While I could fit all the answers into the same three categories as in the before-referenced study, I decided to create my own based on the words used by my 'participants.'

Four specific acts men & women do not appreciate on first dates, per research 

1. Intimate interrogation

One young man in his mid-20s had been on a first date when the young woman asked, "So, how much money do you make?" He went on to say that they were less than 10 minutes into the date.

Another young man reported he had been asked his stance on abortion early in a first date. And another was asked who he had voted for in a recent election.


The women reported being asked about their financial security and if they had been vaccinated.

This tells me that regardless of the question, anything intimate about finances, politics, and possibly religion is simply too personal and too much on a first date.

Suppose any of these are dealbreakers for you. In that case, my participants suggest there is always the option to choose dating sites and community groups dedicated to specific beliefs and followings so you can avoid the misaligned first date altogether.



2. Averse attitude

The women were put out with men who bragged about themselves, spoke poorly of an ex, blamed others for a situation, and were generally negative. They were definitely turned off by any attitude or expectation of her to pay for the date or be sexually intimate. And if there was a sense of a woman-hater perspective, shut the door!


The men were also put out with women whose self-esteem was low, putting themselves down, as much as with women who were overly self-confident and bragging. The clingy, needy, gossipy, rude (to the waiter/waitress), and those already discussing the future with them are finished on the first date. And yes, the guys brought up the man-hater attitude. Done.

RELATED: 8 Important Red Flags To Look For On A First Date

3. Conduct that's unbecoming

The men focused on not appreciating actions that were distracting from the date, such as being late, not looking like their pictures, being on their phone too much, talking about themselves, being more interested in the venue, event, or party than in getting to know them, and bringing up an ex. Some experienced the awkwardness of being compared to an ex— whether in looks, actions, or other; they thought this did not need to be communicated on the first date.

The men also were put off by indecisiveness when offering her options, by loud behavior (as in attention seeking), drinking more than he, and cursing. Specifically, one 20-something said, "If she can't find another adjective to use in conversation than f*@#, I am turned off."


On the flip side, the women disliked impatience shown by over-texting her in advance of the date, control like ordering for her without asking, and too many compliments, which come across as insincere. Anything emotional like 'you are the woman of my dreams,' or sexual like 'you're so hot I can't wait to get out of here and go somewhere private,' is described as too much too fast and scripts' the end' before it has begun.

The women were also disappointed by men who kept stepping away from them to be on the phone or to smoke, were more interested in sharing about themselves than getting to know her, talked about their ex, were rude to staff, or dressed inappropriately for the date.



4. Judgment 

One of the most surprising of our discussions was that unanimously, the men mentioned feeling judged by the women. And my talk with the women supported the men's feelings.


The women reported how a man dressed as an instant deal maker or breaker, and if he were too buff, he must be overly confident and all about his outer self. In fairness, I asked the women if they felt judged by men. "Always!" They looked at me as if I had forgotten what that was like. I have not.

RELATED: 5 Fashion Trends Men And Women Secretly Hate On Each Other

While the men stated they only expected her to look like her online photos, women expected them to be a 10 when she may be a 6. Really, I thought. Do we still speak in ratings? I just assumed there was a new system.

When prodded, the men spoke only of hoping she would not dress inappropriately for the date but also that they would not pre-judge personality based on body type or choice of attire. The one topic the men brought up that came across as judgmental, although they said it is instead 'factual,' is a high snap chat score.


Being that I have not personally been in the dating world for a couple of decades, I had to inquire further. Listen up, ladies; in case you are unaware, a high snap chat score is related to the number of photos you send on Snap Chat. And the guy's perception is that if a woman has a high score, she has sent her photo to many other guys, and "that means she is conceited or promiscuous."

Assumption? Judgment? Fact? I can't say. I don't use the app. I would say that it is likely anyone who sends hundreds of thousands of selfies appears secure and confident but are more likely insecure and seeking validation and approval. That's another article; back to this one.

When I asked my participants what they do appreciate, as you can imagine, it was the opposite of what they do not appreciate.

The men felt they have a simple checklist and are looking for personality, appearance, and intelligence. They expounded, saying they greatly appreciate a woman who will banter playfully, using and allowing humor to ease the nervousness both likely feel. They also enjoy a woman who offers to share the bill or some part of it; it doesn't mean they will agree, but the offer to contribute is important as they feel she is being considerate. And they appreciate a woman who appreciates chivalry. They want to be a gentleman in the old-fashioned way.

RELATED: 5 Really Disappointing Realities Of Modern Dating


The women mainly spoke of his manners. They want a gentleman who opens and holds doors, pulls the chair, and invites her to order first. They love a man who maintains eye contact in conversation, making her feel seen, heard, and like the most important person in the room during the date. They appreciate a man who expects to pay but allows her to contribute or reciprocate.

I found it remarkable that both disappointments and expectations are quite similar regardless of age or gender. When I looked back at my notes, first dates sounded like a lot of pressure, but in reality, it can be boiled down to a simple list:

The First Date DO List:

  1. be present

  2. be curious (but not intense)

  3. be responsive

  4. be genuine

  5. be positive

  6. be kind

  7. be playful

  8. behave

First Date Do List

So, take the pressure off. Slow down. Let go of high expectations of yourself and them. A first date is an introduction to sincerely getting to know one another, not to impress for the sake of impressing. Building a deep connection takes time.


Enjoy the journey! Finding your person is worth the wait and the date(s).

Ann Papayoti, PCC is a coach, author, and speaker helping people help themselves through life's losses and transitions by untangling from their past and healing their hearts. More info is available at SkyView Coaching.