Twelve minutes to impress on a first date

22 April 2014

Posted in Product

by Miranda Bellord (see media contact)

  • First date impressions are formed after only 12 minutes
  • One in 20 ‘research’ their date on social media beforehand
  • Smiling is the most important factor when making a good first impression
  • Men are most likely to offer their date a second chance after a bad first encounter


An AXA study examining the little things that mean a lot in life has revealed that the success of a first date is decided within the first 12 minutes of meeting.

Within that time, people will be judged on little things such as their smile (64 per cent), eye contact (58 per cent) and tone of voice (25 per cent) before their potential suitor decides if the date was a success. The study of 2,000 people found body odour to be the most off-putting factor for three in five (58 per cent) daters and over a third (38 per cent) admit to being turned-off by swearing. 

Judgements are also increasingly being formed pre-date; one in 20 now research their ‘love interest’ on social media, with men accounting for more than half (56 per cent) of those likely to seek out their date online before meeting face-to-face. 

A quarter (25 per cent) of people will also make improvements to their appearance ahead of time. A new haircut, new perfume or a manicure were the most popular options for women, while one in 20 men admit to growing designer stubble to impress on the day. Some even go as far as dieting in a bid to look their best; one in sixteen women and one in 20 men say they do so in the lead up to a first date.

Despite all this effort, when bad first impressions are made it is men who are the most forgiving. An encouraging three in five would offer their date a second chance after a disappointing first encounter, but less than half of women would extend the same courtesy if a suitor failed to impress on their initial meeting.


The top five most important little things to do

on a first date


Smiling (64%)


Eye contact (58%)


Fresh smelling breath (45%)


Tone of voice (25%)


Smart clothes (23%)



The top five first date turn-offs


Body odour (59%)


Bad breath (53%)


Swearing (38%)


Scruffy clothes (36%)


Not smiling (33%)


Commenting on the research, psychologist Donna Dawson, said:

 “It’s the little things you can do that will mean a lot and will put you ahead in the dating game, for example, good hygiene and fresh breath reveal self-respect and consideration for others. Wearing clothes that make you feel both smart and comfortable will help you to relax, which in turn provides the confidence to create a great first impression. Similarly, eye contact conveys sincerity and trustworthiness, and shows you are interested in the other person. Human beings are programmed to return a smile so smiling, even when you are nervous, will get you and your first date off to a good start.”

Commenting on the research, Chris Jones AXA Head of Brand, said:

“That initial step in a relationship can be a nervous experience, but an important one – our research shows you need to think about the little things that will mean a lot on that first date; it appears first impressions are formed very quickly!”