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If there’s a scientific formula for a successful first date, this is it: Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 people about what happened on their first dates—and whether those dates led to something more—for Match.com’s annual Singles in America report.
It turns out that certain locations, conversation topics, and even types of cuisine can significantly impact how well your date goes. Work one, two, or all five of these factors into your next first date—and don’t be surprised when she says yes to a second.
Find her on the Internet
Couples who meet online are 78 percent more likely to make it to date two than people who come together through mutual friends, the study finds.
That’s because most people who use online dating tend to be serious about finding a partner, says Helen Fisher, Ph.D., chief scientific advisor for Match and author of Anatomy of Love. It takes effort to use most dating sites, so users are invested in making it pay off.
Stick to dinner
Taking her to a restaurant may seem unimaginative, but it doubles your odds of seeing her again compared to a more creative outing like a hike or a museum.
Dinner is ideal for a first date because it helps you get to know each other, says Fisher. You’re focused on the conversation, rather than an activity.
“By sitting opposite them, making eye contact, listening to their voice, seeing how they smile, seeing how they listen to you, you can really find out who the person is,” says Fisher.
Better yet, make it a sushi place
People who go to sushi restaurants are 170 percent more likely to get second dates than people who have American cuisine, the study finds.
The researchers were stunned at how strong the connection was, so they did some digging for possible explanations in the food itself.
“Fatty fish like tuna and salmon contain omega-3s, which ups circulation and alertness,” Fisher says. “Seaweed has iodine, which can trigger testosterone and sex drive. And wasabi increases your heart rate and can make you flush.”
These physiological changes could make both of you feel more excited during the date.
Another possible reason: People tend to share sushi, rather than just eating off their own plates. That promotes bonding, she says.
Talk about Trump
You’d think that debating politics with someone you barely know would make for a disaster, but it actually boosts your chances for a second date by 91 percent.
It doesn’t even matter what your opinion is—as long as you have one and can express it respectfully, says Fisher.
Being able to discuss a contentious issue with a level head proves that you’re kind, tolerant, flexible, and empathetic—all qualities that are pure gold to a potential partner, she says.
Don’t linger too long
Your odds for a second date start to dwindle if the outing lasts for more than 2 hours and 15 minutes, according to the Match data. It could be that talking to anyone for that long gets tedious, says Fisher.
So part ways before she’s exhausted. Plan a date that includes dinner and one nightcap. But then politely ask her if you can call her a cab or walk her home.