If there's one thing that I think all of us can agree on, it's the fact that dating is a bit of an enigma. The rules are always changing. The expectations are all over the place. Hell, some of us haven't been impressed while being on a date in so long that we wonder if the art of dating even exists anymore.
If I was able to figure all of this out, I'd be a millionaire—a few times over—by now. But I did do a little research on things related to dating in the hopes that it might help you to connect a few dots or at least get a little clarity on a couple of matters. So, if you've been wondering why guys keep wanting to meet up at Starbucks, why you are turned on by vegans or how long you should date someone before wanting to meet his mama or give him some, below are some answers I found that are based on various studies and dating experts. Check it out, forward it to your significant other, and also jump into the comments to share your views. With a little bit of input from us all, maybe—just maybe—we can figure out this whole dating thing together.
1. Where are the most popular dating spots?
As far as actual dates go, I'm the kind of gal who will give a guy major points for creativity. I guess that's why I found it pretty interesting—and disappointing—when I read an article on Ask Men's site that shared some of the most popular dating spots of last year. Some that cracked the Top 10 include—Starbucks (#1), Chick-fil-A (#2), Panera Bread (#5), Barnes & Noble (#7) and…y'all already know—Cheesecake Factory (#10). Le sigh. Am I the only one who isn't impressed?
I think this is why I am a huge fan of a couple of phone conversations leading up to a first date. That way, you both can get a feel for each other's personality, interest and overall vibe—and that can keep you out of Olive Garden (which also made the list). No diss to it, it's just…I am a firm believer that a man who puts forethought and creativity into first dates and marriage proposals is a man who is showing real sensitivity and fascination as it relates to the object of his affection.
Hmph. I must not be the only person who think this way because, according to The Art of Manliness site, their idea of great first dates are picnics, amusement parks, paint and sips—places that are fun and also places that are a little outside of the typical dinner and a movie idea.
Oh, and as far as signs that a first date didn't go so well, dating experts believe that if the conversation was dull, your date was distracted, no talk of a future date comes up on the date or a full day goes by without any sort of follow up at all…well, even if there are some great explanations as to why these things happened, you're still seeing, fairly early on, if you're going to be doing a significant amount of maintenance in order to keep things going. Just something to think about.
2. What subconsciously makes someone feel connected on a first date?
I can tell I'm getting older because my face frowned a bit when I kept reading that it was poor etiquette to ask someone what their last name is when you're first making a connection with them. What in the world? Even my homie-lover-friends, I know their middle name, birth date and where they were born—and I knew all of this before they got some. But apparently these days, last names are privileged information. Something else that I read is if you're on a first date and you really want to make the person feel special, you should say their first name a few times. It indicates that you are interested in them, that you care enough to retain their name, and that you want to be comfortable enough to remain on a first name basis with them in the future.
3. How long do individuals prefer to wait before having sex for the first time?
Chrissy Teigen has been pretty open about the fact that she slept with 2019's Sexiest Man Alive on their first date. Now they're married with two children, so the taboo belief that having sex on the first date automatically dooms the possibility of establishing a solid relationship isn't one that holds a ton of weight (clearly, when there are articles out in cyberspace like "Why More People Are Having Sex on the First Date"). Still, that doesn't mean that sex on the first date is the rule; for most, it's still more like the exception. So, just how long do most people think that you should wait before getting it on for the first time? A Groupon study of 2,000 individuals came to the conclusion that it should happen after around eight dates; although most men were "cool" with waiting until the fifth date and most women preferred to wait until the ninth.
4. How often should you see your significant other to keep the relationship healthy?
This particular point I found to be interesting, mostly because it has something in common with how often married folks have sex in order to keep their relationship in a thriving state. If a married couple wants to feel happy and connected, they need to copulate the same amount of times a week that a new couple needs to see one another in order to get similar results. And how often is that? Once a week. Anything more than that can cause fires to burn out quickly. It can also prevent you from "pacing your way" into the relationship so that you can figure out if it's something that you want as opposed to merely being something that you feel (some of y'all will catch that later).
5. What is an underrated key to relational happiness?
While on the surface, this one seems a little odd, if you really stop to think about it, it makes sense. One study that featured 1,000 men and women discovered that whenever an individual is dating someone who is a conscious and healthy eater, they are happier in the relationship—even if their own eating lifestyle totally sucks.
I'd venture to say that, even if it's a subconscious thing, people probably admire someone who is intentional about caring for their temple. Not only that, but if that person is interested in caring for themselves, it could be a good indicator that they will take care of the person they are seeing too.
6. How many dates, on average, lead to exclusivity?
If you've been on about 3-4 dates with someone, you really like him, and you're wondering if it's time to have "the talk", what a lot of dating experts believe is you should wait until you've gone on eight dates before bringing up the topic of exclusivity. If you go on a date with someone once a week, that averages out to being a couple of months, so that sounds about right. Whatever you do, just make sure that you conduct a little "pre-commitment interview" first. A whole lot of us have found ourselves falling for the wrong men or totally wasting our time, oftentimes because we assumed that they wanted what they did when…they didn't.
(Sidenote: Did you peep that exclusivity and sex both require eight dates? Interesting.)
7. What is the “expiration date” on most new relationships?
Cuffing season can really be a trip; especially when you factor in that the most popular times for couples to break-up is either right before Christmas (I'm willing to bet that is men) or right after Valentine's Day (wouldn't be surprised in the least if that was women). Some folks don't want the pressure of taking things to the next level during the holiday season while others put a lot of stock into Valentine's Day, only to get disappointed and determine that they deserve better.
Now, as far as how long new relationships typically last, in general? According to several Google links that I checked out, the average is somewhere between 3-5 months. Why is that? Five months usually gives us enough time to know if we're motivated by nothing more than lust, if the person is doing things that are deal-breakers for us and/or if we're simply too impatient—or disinterested—to put the work in to make the relationship last. If you're seeing someone new, how long has it been? Have y'all made it over the five-month-hump yet?
8. What things turn men off about women they’re seeing?
A website that I used to write for back in the day is The Good Men Project. In an article published on the site entitled "5 Secret Male Turn-offs Women's Magazines Won't Tell You", what I appreciated is it didn't ask women what turned men off; they asked men. What the men shared where things like belittling a man's sexual needs, comparing him to other men or trying to guilt trip him for wanting to do things outside of spending time with you. To me, that sounds pretty realistic. In fact, I'd think that the only women who "feel some type of way" about those things are women who are doing those types of things. And, in the wise words of Dr. Phil, "How is that workin' for ya?" As far as a list of what turns men on, check out "I Asked 10 Men What Turned Them On. This Is What They Said." for a little insight.
9. Does astrology actually play a role in compatibility?
Some of y'all are gonna fight to the death on this one. But apparently, the online dating site OkCupid conducted a study that included 500,000 people to see if there is any truth to astrology and compatibility. You can click here to read the entire break down, but the bottom line is no, there isn't. So, if you're a Gemini like I am, you're currently digging a Scorpio but you're hesitant because you read somewhere that they're not a good fit, I'd still go on a couple of dates if I were you.
Putting too much emotional weight on astrology can create self-fulfilling prophecies; you can determine someone isn't good for you due to some chart when, in all actuality, they just might be your perfect match. Not because of when their birthday falls but because of who they are as individuals.
10. When should you introduce someone to your parents and friends?
They say that if you've been in a relationship with someone for a while and you haven't met any of their family members or friends, that could be a red flag; maybe they are involved with someone else, they don't take the relationship as seriously as you do or, it's an indication that they've got layer of things to hide, with their loved ones only being a layer of that. If you've been seeing someone enough to go through all four seasons of the year once, I would be inclined to agree. At that point, you should've at least spoken with someone who is a part of their world.
But if you feel like your significant other is on the up-and-up but since it's only been a few months you're still not sure when the right time to meet their loved ones are, here's the deal. A lot of millennials tend to think it's cool after about 10 dates or so. At the same time, a lot of dating experts think that is way too early; they believe that you need to take at least five months to see if the relationship is serious. Then, after that time, introduce the person you're seeing to some friends; then family. Oh, and when it is time to see the fam, avoid family functions at all costs. Those types of events will only put more pressure on you. Plus, it sends the message that you know exactly where the relationship is headed when, after only a few months, you probably don't.
11. Who has a harder time healing from a break-up? Men or Women?
This is something that I am glad is getting more attention because, while it might be assumed that men aren't as affected by heartbreak as women are, what's actually going on is we tend to grieve and heal earlier and faster than they do. In fact, there's a study that supports the fact that since women invest more emotionally into their relationships, they are more emotionally self-aware in how to handle a break-up. Meanwhile, many guys don't spend as much time processing emotions. As a result, when a relationship (that truly matters to them) ends, they see it as an irrevocable loss than can take years for them to get over—if they ever do. (I know at least 10 guys personally who can personally attest to this; they still talk about their first love like the break-up happened last year.)
12. Who actually says, “I love you” first? Men or Women?
Talk about debunking a myth. I'm willing to bet that at least half of y'all read this question and immediately said, "Duh. Women." However, that isn't the case. According to several published studies, it is the fellas who experience feelings of love, as early as a few weeks into a new relationship. Now, that doesn't mean that all of them have the best of intentions when it comes to saying "I love you" because, there are also reports that indicate some do it in order to win our trust so that they can "get the meats". Still, that isn't the case for everyone, so if you're seeing a guy and he says, "I love you", if his words and actions complement one another, chalk it up to him being honest and society underrating a man's true sentimentality—at least until or unless he proves otherwise.
Welp. There you have it. Dating, in a nutshell—kinda, sorta. Whatcha think? Did it make things clearer or more confusing than ever? Sound off in the comments. Let us know.
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