Data Study: Generational Dating Differences & Similarities

Two couples of different generations hugging each other.

We know the dating experience is significantly different for men and women, but what is dating like for different age groups? Do Millennials use dating apps differently than Baby Boomers? And what about dating etiquette? Does Generation Z adhere to a different set of norms and standards than others?

To help us determine how each generation approaches dating, the online dating site and app Zoosk analyzed over 5.7 million profiles and surveyed over 4,000 daters.

We even teamed up with UK’s leading dating expert, Hayley Quinn, who interviewed singles on the streets of London, to see if Zoosk’s data held up in the real world.

Watch the Video for Highlights:

Dive Into the Full Results:

Generation Z (Born after 1994)

Are the least picky online daters.
Gen Zers swipe or say yes to 33% of people they’re shown on dating apps—that’s 15% more than Millennials, and 20% more than Generation X and Baby Boomers.

Appreciate when a woman initiates, more so than the older generations.
While the majority (59%) think either a man or woman should make the first move online, 16% are more open to the idea of a woman making the first move—2% more than Millennials, 8% more than Generation X, and 7% more than Baby Boomers.

Need more time planning for dates.
38% of Generation Z want a week’s notice for a date—8% more than Millennials, 10% more than Generation X, and 13% more than Baby Boomers (who all need 2-3 days).

Are the most meticulous online daters.
51% of Millennials fill out their online dating profiles as much as possible—3% more than Generation Z, 9% more than Generation X, and 17% more than Baby Boomers.

Like drink dates a little more than all other generations.
While coffee dates are still the most popular choice with Millennials, drink dates come in a close second at 35%—8% more than Generation Z and Baby Boomers, and 3% more than Generation X.

Value conversation skills.
36% of Millennials think having great conversation skills is the best way to make a good first impression—1% more than Gen Z, 6% more than Gen X, and 10% more than Baby Boomers.

Enjoy banter online.
Generation X have the deepest conversations online (i.e. go back and forth in conversation the most)—24% more than Millennials and Baby Boomers, and 59% more than Generation Z.

Are more open to go Dutch on first dates.
Generation X are split when it comes to who should pay on the first date—47% think a man should pay while 46% think the check should be split 50-50 (5% more than Baby Boomers and Millennials, and 9% more than Generation Z).

Initiate conversations most often online.
After matching, Baby Boomers initiate the most conversations (whether that’s sending a smile or a message)—2% more than Generation X, 2.6% more than Generation Z, and 4% more than Millennials.

Put more thought into a first message.
The average length of a first message is 17 words for Baby Boomers—6 more words than Generation X, 9 more than Millennials, and 11 more than Generation Z.

Like cutting to the chase, more so than the younger generations.
While 32% of Baby Boomers think chatting 2–3 days before asking someone out online is a good idea, 23% think it’s okay to ask someone out within the first few messages—10% more than Generation X, and 11% more than Millennials and Generation Z.

Prefer to call (not text) to set up dates.  
The majority of Baby Boomers (60%) like to call to arranges dates—13% more than Generation X, 25% more than Millennials, and 26%  more than Generation Z.

Enjoy online dating on Sundays.
Sundays are the busiest day for online dating across all generations.

Start with coffee.
While younger daters are more open to the idea of dinner dates (and even ice cream dates), coffee dates are the preferred date of choice across the board.

Consider holding doors open a romantic gesture.
Over 80% of daters across all generations think holding the door open for your date is a romantic gesture.

Agree that a man should pay on first dates.
About 50% of daters across all age groups think a man should pay on the first date and about 40% think it should be split.

Don’t consider one-night stands dating deal-breakers.
Even though Baby Boomers are less likely to date someone after a one night stand, the majority of daters across all generations would still do it.

While there are a lot of similarities between how people from each age group date, overall, the younger generations tend to match more online and are more open to women making the first move. They also prefer to build up a connection before meeting in-person. The older generations like to initiate conversation more online and set up dates faster. They’re also a little more traditional with their dating approach—they like to call to arrange dates, hold doors open during dates, and enjoy a classic coffee date for a first date.

Jeet D

Freelance Writer

Jeet is a freelance writer who has years of experience covering dating and relationships.

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