The number of hours people are willing to invest in a first date demonstrates how serious people are in their search for the right partner
• 18 million first dates in 2008, with 68% initiated online
• The average first date lasts over 4 hours
• Build-up to each first date occupies 12 hours.
Britain’s singles are ignoring the rules laid down by the dating experts - by investing a massive total of 20 hours and 9 minutes on each first date. This is the key finding from a survey by PARSHIP.co.uk, the UK arm of Europe’s largest premium online matchmaker, which pioneered the use of a scientific compatibility test in Europe.
Relationship pundits recommend keeping a first date short and sweet – after all, just one in five first dates results in some sort of relationship – but British singles believe in putting some extra time, thought and effort into that first one-on-one.
In 2008, Britain’s 8 million active singles went on 18 million first dates. Seven out of ten (68%) of these resulted from initial contact via the Internet. Introductions through friends accounted for 13% of all first dates, first dates resulting from chance encounters in bars 5%, while first dates with work colleagues represented just 4%.
Each first date now lasts an average of 4 hours and 18 minutes, but the build-up to each date occupies over 12 hours of each person’s time. There are five distinct stages to the process, each taking up at least two hours:
1 The set-up - 5 hrs 36 mins
2 Pre-date fantasy - 4hrs 45 mins,
3 Pre-date preparation - 2 hours
4 The date itself - 4hrs 18 mins
5 Post-date analysis - 3 hrs 30 mins
Dr Victoria Lukats, psychiatrist and PARSHIP’s dating expert, commented:
"The number of hours people are willing to invest in a first date demonstrates how serious people are in their search for the right partner. In addition, the prominence of internet dating as a method of meeting people naturally leads to a slightly longer process as it then becomes like the first meeting and first date rolled into one - most people need to feel fairly sure they're not wasting their time on a first date, so they want to get to know the person first. It takes time to do this as there's no short cut to a long-lasting relationship."
1 The set-up – 5 hours 36 minutes
Pre-date communication -- now likely to start with an online message -- takes up 5 hours and 36 minutes Half of all singles keep online and verbal communication to under five hours, but a quarter (22%) of all women, as against 17% of men, choose to communicate for well over 10 hours before meeting up. At the other end of the scale, 22% of men and women spend less than 2 hours on initial screening and organising the rendezvous.
2 Pre-date fantasy – 4hrs 45 minutes
On average both men and women spend a similar amount of time in the pre-date fantasy. Singles spend nearly five hours wondering what the other person looks like in the flesh, playing out potential conversations and talking to their friends about a date. In fact, one in five (18%) women spend 8 hours or more daydreaming about their future date, compared to just 14% of men. By stark contrast, one in five men (19%) and one in ten women (12%) say they’re unlikely to spend more than 60 minutes thinking about the person and definitely don’t discuss a potential date with friends.
3 Pre-date preparation and grooming – 2 hours
It’s no surprise that women put more time and effort into making a good first impression: two thirds (71%) spend between one and three hours refining their look. The typical woman takes 2 hours 6 minutes to get ready, while men average 1 hour and 50 minutes. A quarter of men favour the ‘take me as I am’ approach, devoting less than an hour to sprucing up.
4 The Date – 4 hours 18 minutes
Numerous best-selling self-help books assert that a first date should be short and sweet, advising singles to seem at least politely interested while retaining a degree of mystery. As it turns out, just 2% of first-daters keep things to a quick cup of coffee, while 10% spend less than two hours on their assignation. On average, men prefer to eke it out to 4 hours 48 minutes, while women tend to want to keep it under 4 hours. One in ten men cite dates extending to over 9 hours, while just 3% of women claim to have prolonged the pleasure to that extent.
5 Post-date analysis – 3 hours, 30 minutes
Only one in five first dates will lead to some sort of relationship, so it’s hardly surprising that 42% of singles spend less than two hours thinking about their date after the event. However, 17% of men say they spend 6 to 10 hours thinking about their date and discussing things with a friend. This compares to just 12% of women. On average men claim to spend 3 hours and 42 minutes in post date analysis, 24 minutes more than women, who average a mere 3 hours and 18 minutes.
Dr Victoria Lukats, psychiatrist and PARSHIP’s dating expert, commented:
“This survey had some interesting and surprising results. Whilst women taking longer to get ready before a date could have been predicted, it was striking to find that on average, men spend more time afterwards, thinking about and analysing the date – or at least they are more willing to admit to it. One explanation could be that traditionally the onus is on men to make the next move after a first date by phoning to arrange the next date. Clearly, this will take some thought and preparation and for many people, the apprehension can be more nerve wracking that the date itself. Whatever the reasons, we should give men more credit and put aside outdated stereotypes of men just being hunters who enjoy the thrill of the chase, with little emotional intelligence as some dating self-help books would have us believe.
“Although there was a wide range of how much pre- and post-date analysis people claim to indulge in, there are a variety of factors that might explain this. Firstly, some people will under- or over-estimate the figures, secondly, the answers people gave could be biased by memories of the last date they went on: It's probably fair to assume that if a date has gone well, people will spend more time afterwards, thinking about things, perhaps planning the next date, wondering if they've made a good impression or even imagining the future. If it's clear there was no mutual attraction and a second date isn't on the cards, people will spend less time dwelling on what might have been. Thirdly, it seems plausible that some people may be genuinely more predisposed to engage in long periods of thought, fantasy, analysis and discussion with friends.”
- ENDS –
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PARSHIP.com, the largest premium online matchmaking service in the UK, is specifically for people who are serious about forming a lasting relationship and is built on a rigorous personality profiling test that determines compatibility. It is the British subsidiary of Europe’s most successful serious online dating service, now with millions of members, predominantly affluent, educated men and women between 28 and 55 years old.
Since its launch in Germany in 2001, PARSHIP has successfully matched tens of thousands of couples, and it now operates in 14 countries of Western Europe and also in Mexico
PARSHIP GmbH is headquartered in Hamburg and is 87%-owned by Holtzbrinck networXs AG, part of the Georg von Holtzbrinck publishing group, one of Germany’s largest publishing companies with financial interests in more than 80 companies, including the Macmillan Group.
About the PARSHIP Survey
To establish the amount of time invested by singles on first dates, PARSHIP surveyed a random sample of 1,000 members in December 2008. The respondents were split 50/50 between male and female, aged between 18 to 70, single and based in the UK
To establish the number of first dates that lead to some sort of relationships, PARSHIP commissioned a survey with the market research institute Innofact to survey more than 13,000 people aged between 18 and 59, single, in 13 Western European countries
About Dr Victoria Lukats, MBBS MRCPsych MSc
As well as working as a dating expert for PARSHIP, Dr Victoria Lukats is a specialist registrar within the NHS. She graduated with a medicine degree from King's College London in 1998, is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and has a Masters Degree in Mental health from King's College London. In addition, she writes an agony aunt column on relationships and dating for a national newspaper and is a spokesperson for Psychologies magazine. Dr Lukats is regularly asked to comment and provide advice on large range of relationship topics in the media and her expert opinion often draws on her medical background and therefore combines both science and psychology to provide clarity and greater understanding to the audience.
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