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Looking for a relationship that lasts longer than daylight savings?

Start with dinner – but listen intently and don’t order ribs!

  • Restaurants are the most frequent starting point for a successful relationship (22%)* with nearly half (46%) saying they find someone inviting them for a first date dinner as “respectful”
  • Not listening or paying attention is the most off-putting first date behaviour (46%), and a third (31%) of daters would be put off by their date eating ribs on a first date
  • Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) would try and impress their date with fast food


London, 22 November 2021:
 OpenTable, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations, today uncovers the dos and don’ts of dining and dating, to give autumn and winter season relationships the greatest chance of success.


Whether Brits are looking for something to see them through the festive period or beyond, the highest number of respondents, who are all actively dating, (22%), reported that their most successful relationship so far started with a first date in a restaurant, followed by coffee shops, bars and pubs.


This is good news for those in Wales, where 44% typically go for a sit-down meal on a first date, versus only 8% in the North West. Young adults were the least likely to go for dinner on a first date, with only 15% of 18–24-year-olds reporting they would typically do this.


The data suggests that the reason restaurant dates might be a sign of success could be due to the person’s character rather than anything about the restaurant itself, with respondents saying they would perceive someone inviting them on a first date to a restaurant as respectful (46%), taking the date seriously (38%) and relationship material (31%).


However, that’s not to say a restaurant date in itself is failsafe – successful daters need to bring their best behaviour with them too. Respondents reported various off-putting behaviours best avoided on a first date, with women in particular being put off by their dates:


  • Not listening / paying attention to what I’m saying (46%) (m 39%: f 54%) 
  • Rudeness with waiters or other diners (45%) (m 36%: f 57%)         
  • Regularly checking their phone (42%) (m 36%: f 50%)       
  • Talking about their ex or other people they’re dating (42%) (m 36%: f 50%)            


Also don’t pick the wrong food, especially those living in Northern Ireland, where only 10% of respondents reported to not be put off by any food choices at all. Most off-putting foods to watch your first date eat were reported as ribs (31%), closely followed by seafood (28%).  But if those on a date must eat messily, head to Yorkshire and the Humber, where 37% were happy for their date to eat whatever takes their fancy.


Those looking to make a good impression typically opt for Italian (34%) or British (30%) cuisine. British food is more popular with older daters, with 40% of over 55s choosing our native cuisine to impress their date. Surprisingly, 18% of respondents would look to impress a date with fast food!      


Aside from the cuisine on offer, 41% of respondents choose a restaurant based on atmosphere, and 35% look for somewhere they feel safe – rising to 71% among non-binary daters, and 44% of women.


Who picks up the bill could depend on how well the date goes and who’s trying to impress, but generally, men still expect to pay (61%) even though only 27% of women actually expect this of their date. Women generally prefer to split the bill, with 47% opting for this over only 15% of men. 


Well over half of respondents (59%) say a first date typically costs between £20 and £70. A frugal 1% don’t typically spend anything at all on a first date, whereas 8% spend over £100.


Scott Hudson, Senior Director, EMEA, OpenTable commented: “While late autumn and winter is usually the time single people pair up, there’s nothing to say that it shouldn’t be able to outlast the season. With the right combination of location and first date behaviours, we want to help daters understand how to best lay the foundations for a successful relationship, be that for a couple of months or a lifetime!”


For booking inspo and to smash those #relationshipgoals this autumn and winter season, diners can search for their perfect date restaurant using the ‘Romantic’ tag on OpenTable.




For more information or to talk to an OpenTable spokesperson please contact:


Notes to Editors:

*According to a OnePoll survey of 1,000 people who are single and actively dating, representative of the UK adult population age split, carried out in the UK between 26/10/2021 and 01/11/2021.


About OpenTable

OpenTable, part of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), powers reservations for the hospitality industry. OpenTable’s software seats more than 1 billion people per year and helps more than 60,000 restaurants, bars, wineries and other venues attract guests, manage capacity, improve operations and maximize revenue.