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As the nation emerges from lockdown living and a ‘normal’ Valentine’s Day looms, it’s time to step out of the dating apps and back into the dating social scene. Recognising that the prospect of a first face-to-face date could be daunting, unveils new insight into the do’s and don’ts of today’s dating etiquette to help boost confidence among British daters.


    • Tell a joke: 3 in 5 Brits think having a sense of humour and respect are the most attractive traits in someone on a first date
    • Connect through conversation: 42% think intelligence is sexy declaring it as one of the best traits 
    • Be knowledgeable, not arrogant: 3 in 5 Brits see arrogance as the second worst trait to show


In an attempt to build the nation’s confidence up, online learning platform has commissioned research unveiling both the desirable and downright distasteful traits Brits have when it comes to first date behaviour and conversation topics. The findings will help budding romantics, with even the most basic skills, to make the right impression and spark a connection, by simply knowing the right thing to say or do. 


For further ‘training’ to build confidence in the dating world, the Emotional Intelligence in Practice course explores techniques to develop self-awareness and investigates values that define us as individuals to help establish mutually beneficial relationships. 


Understanding that everyone is different is fundamental in knowing how to approach certain situations. Findings show there is a clear divide in the way men and women approach first dates, with nearly half (48%) of women finding chewing with your mouth open the worst thing on a date, whilst constantly checking a phone is the worst action according to a man (39%).


With topics such as money, appearance and your past also having contrasting results between the sexes, they show clear differences in how individuals think about the same topics. How much you earn is one of the worst things to ask a woman on a first date (42%) but only 29% of men feel the same way, the same goes for your weight being the worst thing someone can ask you for over half of women (55%) but only 21% of men. 


However, there are also chances for people to impress and emotionally connect through conversation, women rank being complimented on a date as the top romantic gesture (47%). If a second date is what you’re after then people who talk and explore topics you’ve shown interest in (42%) and show an understanding and intelligence of these topics (42%) are more likely to get one in the bag.


Compliment their appearance  48%
Proactively explore mutual interests  42%
Show deep understand/intelligence 42%
Offer to walk you home 33%
Offer to pay the bill 26%


The power of words and conversation are the leading skills to master for a successful date. Questions on your political views are now becoming more acceptable, which is shown in the research as only 16% of respondents think it’s a bad line of questioning on a date. The top questions to steer clear from in conversation include:


How much do you weigh? 39%
What is your salary? 36%
Have you had plastic surgery? 28%
Do you ever want to get married? 17%
Your political views 16%


When it comes to the regions, British opinions are divided. 41% of Belfast locals aren’t afraid to let their date pay the bill, compared to Edinburgh (20%), Liverpool (26%) and Manchester (25%). You’re also more like to be successful dating in Plymouth if you’re funny with humour as the top trait (67%) compared to London at only 55%, with intelligence more likely to win you the second date in Sheffield where 52% see it as one of the best traits compared to only 36% in Cardiff who think the same. 


Men also love to be treated as nearly 2 in 10 men (17%) would like the person they are on a date with to offer to pay the bill, although this does not compare to double the amount of women (34%) who said that offering to pay the bill is one of the best things their date could do. Overall for Brits looking to get back to dating and to do so successfully the research shows how important emotional intelligence is to understanding individual people and their behaviour and how this skill can aid you in everyday life. 


Astrid deRidder, Director of Content at FutureLearn, said: “With 18 million learners worldwide, FutureLearn is always looking for ways to bring learning into everyday life. This research takes a fun look at how traits we might take for granted, such as being respectful, humorous and understanding, are considered highly attractive in someone on first dates, and it goes to show just how important having a good grasp on emotional intelligence is for everyone. But remember, emotional intelligence isn’t just for Valentine’s Day, it’s for life.” 


Notes to Editor

The research was conducted by Censuswide with 2013 Nat Rep UK respondents between 28.01.22 – 31.01.22. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles


About FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a global learning platform with a mission to transform access to education by offering top online courses from the world’s leading universities and brands. From microcredentials and degrees to ExpertTracks and short courses, FutureLearn offers accredited and unaccredited world-class education that is 100% online, on-demand, and social. Founded in 2012 by The Open University, FutureLearn has built a global network of over 18 million learners, hosted over 5,000 online courses, and partnered with more than 250 top universities, leading global brands, and government departments – such as the University of Cambridge, the University of Glasgow, Deakin University, Samsung and Health Education England. The wide-ranging courses available allow learners to expand their interests, unlock highly skilled new career paths, and help change the world.






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