The highs and lows of getting ready for a date

Beautiful woman doing her makeup before a date

Picture the scene: the person you’ve been messaging back and forth with for the last few days is as captivated as you and you’re both eager to meet. It’s official: you’ve got a date on lockdown. But how do you go about getting ready for it? Do you have a specific routine or is it more of a slapdash approach?

Getting ready for a date: what’s your routine?

When it comes to dating someone new, you want to have your date preparation routine on point. But what does that entail? Does a beauty regime take center stage or do some new threads fit the bill for a dating confidence boost? What do people like about getting ready for a date, and what do they despise the most?

With so many question marks looming, EliteSingles investigated the lowdown of date preparation, surveying more than 1900 singles and discovering some surprising date prep secrets from both men and women. And the results aren’t at all what we expected! Read on for our in-depth analysis.

The perks and pitfalls of scrubbing up

Arguably the most pressing question in our survey centers on whether or not singles actually enjoy getting ready for a date. Well, it turns out that men like a little spruce too! As it happens, the overwhelming majority of both men (78%) and women (85%) perceive getting ready for a date as something positive on the whole.

So what’s so good about getting ready for a date? Although they both enjoy it, men and women have very different ideas when it comes to what they like most about date prep.

Just over half of the male respondents (51%) admitted they enjoy date preparation as it ramps up the anticipation, compared to under a third of women (31%). Conversely, prepping for a first date made 43% of women feel more attractive. Only 15% of men shared this same same sentiment.

Interestingly, a quarter of men (25%) and 17% of women gained confidence from scrubbing up, and, for 8% of both genders, the best part of getting ready for a date was a chance to enjoy some “me time.”

That said, for 1-in-5 men (22%) and 15% of women, date prep is more irksome than awesome. Of those who admitted they weren’t overly enamored with the process, 57% of both men and women stated that they find it stressful. The next most prominent gripe – shared by 24% of date prep hating participants – was that it’s too time-consuming. And, for 14%, the feeling was that getting ready for date feels too much like a chore.

Handbags and gladrags

One of the most obvious aspects associated with getting ready for a date is deciding what you should wear. But is it smart or casual that wins the famous style head-to-head? It turns out dressing up is still the suit of hearts – if you want to impress a woman that is! More than half of the single women surveyed (51%) think smart is sexy. However, if you want to impress a man, you may want to dial it down: 65% of men said casual is cool.

It seems sensible to meet in the middle ground: ladies take a step back and dress down a little, and men, step up and smarten up. Nevertheless, looking good remains a priority; 31% of men said that they would actually buy a new outfit for a date, with a similar 37% of ladies agreeing they like to dress to impress with a brand new outfit. Surprisingly, 30% of men would plan their outfit before the day of the date, a behaviour echoed by 52% of women.

No expense spared?

When it came to date prep budgets at the more reasonable end of the scale, men and women were fairly financially compatible (with women spending slightly more).

For women, the most popular amount to spend before a first date was $50-100 CAN, with 28% prepared to splash out this amount on getting ready. 27% would budget $25-50 for their date preparations, while a further 27% wouldn’t want to spend more than $25. Meanwhile, the most popular date budget for men was $25-50 CAN, with 31% of men ready to spend this amount on their preparations. 24% would opt to spend $50-100, while 14% would lower the budget to under $25.

When it came to the ritzier end of the scale however, it was men who were far more likely to drop the cash on date prep.

Just 11% of women would spend $100-$150 CAN on getting ready for a date. In comparison, a huge 20% of men would spend the same amount. What’s more, while only 7% of women would drop more than $150 on getting ready, 13% of men would be happy to splash the cash.

Hey, big spender indeed – it seems that the beauty and the beast gender stereotype is no longer valid when it comes to date preening and primping!

Freshen up

So, what do we all get up to when getting ready for a date night?

For more than half of men, a must-do activity is a trip to the barber, with 55% penciling in a trip before a big date. And looking sharp apparently includes a good shave, with 85% saying they would trim their beard or have a wet shave in preparation. Silky skin is a surprise inclusion with more than a quarter of men (27%) saying they’d go for a facial or lather on the moisturizer.

For women, picture perfect makeup (85%), a manicure (50%) and a session at the hair salon (41%) were voted as the top three date grooming rituals.

So why all the fuss? For men, it’s because they’re set to impress, with almost half of the single men surveyed (49%) saying that they undergo date prep routines and rituals because they want their date to find them attractive. Only 23% of women share that sentiment. Instead, the ladies like doing it for themselves: 78% of women undertake their date prep because it boosts their confidence.

Getting your mind in the game: what boosts confidence?

Men and women chime on one thing however – how to get their mind in the game. The majority of men (41%) and women (38%) take a final look in the mirror before stepping out the door in order to to be mentally prepared.

For 25% of men and women their best confidence booster comes in the form of their favourite playlist, while 9% of men (and just 2% of women) would opt to watch TV to calm their nerves.

Date expectations

With all the time and effort that goes into being a dashing and dazzling date, it’s not just a one way street. So what do all the single ladies and bashful bachelors think of their counterparts?

45% of men and 57% of women agree that their date’s presentation means quite a lot to them, with 10% of men and 17% of women thinking it’s vital to see an effort put in.

However, beauty is not only skin deep. The majority of date-ready singles (84% of men and 68% of women) say that they would not be offended if they found out their date did not put an equal effort into getting ready. The concurance seems to be that, if they find each other attractive, what they both did to prepare is irrelevant.

Best be aware though, 35% of women consider being under-dressed as their biggest first date faux pas. Interestingly, 25% of men share the opposite view, stating that being overdressed is their biggest bug bear. Another no-no is too much fragrance: the majority of men (36%) felt that overdoing the perfume is their biggest turn-off, along with 25% of women. It’s all about moderation and balance – don’t overdo it in your eagerness to impress.

Getting ready for a date and the temptation of social media

Forget blind dates – in the modern world of technology, it seems that a high percentage of the single population sneak a peek of their date beforehand.

Women are more likely to check their date’s social media profiles before the date, with 75% of women and 59% of men tracking their date on Facebook or Twitter. However, there are still some who like to be surprised – 25% of women and 41% of men think checking your date’s social media kills off the mystery.

The final countdown

In today’s time-scarce society, how many of your minutes would you be willing to be put into getting ready? Well, the majority of men and women (54% and 46% respectively) take 30 minutes to an hour getting ready for a date.

Contrary to the “quick spruce” stereotype, 1-in-5 men (20%) would spend between 1 to 2 hours preening themselves for a date, and 39% of women would do the same. At the end of the day, if you’re a show pony or a love boat, everyone seems to enjoy a good shine and polish. Remember, the overwhelming majority of both men (78%) and women (85%) enjoy the process of getting ready for a date.

So there you have it – the next time you’re getting spick and span for a big date, you know what to prioritize (and what to avoid!). Remember to make an effort with your personal presentation, finding the smart casual balance, spend time on your grooming and pruning but just don’t overdo it.

Ready for the date itself? Check out our first date tips to give you that extra boost…


Survey statistics from EliteSingles’ ‘Dating Prep’ survey, 2017. Sample size: 1910 singles.

About the author: Zoe Coetzee

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