Health & Wellness

OKCupid report shows how many dates couples usually go on before having sex

In the early years of online dating, many believed the platform was only for sad cat people, socially awkward nerds and that creepy neighbor.

But today, dating sites and apps are so popular that even your grandma knows what it means to "swipe right" — the digital way of showing interest in another person.

When OKCupid launched in 2004, it matched people based on how they answered specific questions and then tracked that data.

Now, a decade later, the company has released a report of users’ views from 2005 to 2015 and found some surprising trends. Most notably: Fewer people want sex on the first date.

Markevich Maria / Shutterstock / Markevich Maria
young sexy couple in love lying in bed in hotel, embracing on white sheets, close up legs, romantic mood; Shutterstock ID 345013829; PO: today.com

“People who use OKCupid do prioritize love over sex,” Jimena Almendares, chief product officer at OKCupid, told TODAY. “The perfect time for sleeping with someone is (between) three to six dates, more in the middle — not in the beginning and not after marriage.”

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Overall, fewer people, 19 percent less, considered having sex on the first date than they did in 2005, the data showed.

Gay men’s views on this changed the most. In 2005, 83 percent of gay men considered sleeping with someone on the first date, but that dropped to 57 percent in 2015.

OKCupid

“When OKCupid began collecting data, they were collecting data for a more fringe group of people. Early adopters to any technology tend to be a little different," said Christine Whelan, director of the Money, Relationships and Equality initiative at the School of Human Ecology at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Online dating has become so mainstream that the data they are seeing is much more representative [of the social norm],” said Whelan, who was not involved with the OKCupid report.

OKCupid

But just because OKCupid users typically wait for sex doesn’t mean they feel prudish.

Study participants reported they expected to have their best sex in the relationship that lasts the rest of their lives.

Even straight women, who tended to provide the most conservative answers, agreed that “for a relationship to be very important it has to be very sexually fulfilling,” said Almendares.

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Even though OKCupid users were less likely to pursue sex on the first date, their views about sex remained progressive.

OK Cupid

Nearly half of all users, or 48 percent, reported that the number of people someone has slept with isn’t a big deal.

Straight women were the most conservative on that front; 63 percent thought there was a number of sex partners that was too many. (The number wasn't specified.)

That was down from 2005, when 80 percent of straight women thought there was a limit to acceptable sex partners.

“The data is showing that sex is more welcome ... [straight women] don’t want random [sex]," Whelan said. "They want a meaningful relationship. That again has not changed since 2005.”

While the information provided insight into trends, relationship expert and TODAY Tastemaker, Siggy Flicker said data doesn’t help people find a relationship. Getting out in the real world does.

“Because of technology we don’t go out a lot. We don’t look at each other,” she said. “Don’t be online for too long. Get off your screen and into real life.”

OK Cupid

She urged people to be on multiple sites to find potential dates and warned them not to fall in love with a profile.

“Don’t concentrate too much on data and what’s on paper,” she said. “Someone can be perfect with what is on paper, but there is no chemistry.”

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She said people should go on at least one date per week if they want to meet someone.

“You have to force yourself out of your comfort zone. There is nothing more important in life than love,” said Flicker.

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