One-Third of Americans Think It’s OK to Discuss Past Relationships on a First Date

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of DatingAdvice.com's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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This is an exclusive study conducted by DatingAdvice.com, which surveyed respondents over the course of three weeks to reflect an accurate representation of the U.S. population.

Most first date conversations consist of topics like movies, hobbies and jobs, but what about exes or breakups?

Despite being somewhat taboo, a study conducted by DatingAdvice.com found one-third of Americans don’t mind discussing their dating past while on a first date.

The results show men were 6 percent more likely than women to feel comfortable with such discussions.

The highest response came from divorcees. Forty-two percent of divorced respondents said it’s OK to talk about past relationships during the first time out with someone, while only 34 percent of single respondents said the same.

Clinical psychologist and DatingAdvice.com expert Dr. Wendy Walsh said the fact more women than men are hesitant when talking about past romantic partners on a first date shows there is a sexual double standard at work.

“Women lose cultural points with too many past partners. Men gain points for sexual experience,” she said.

“Hispanics had a 56 percent lower likelihood to

have this discussion than any other ethnicity.”

Age appeared to suggest people might become more relaxed with discussing their exes and the like as they grow older. While one out of three 18- to 24-year-olds felt the topics were appropriate, that number jumps to two in five for 54- to 64-year-olds.

Race showed few significant indicators with the exception of Hispanics, who were found to have a 56 percent lower likelihood of discussing past relationships on a first date than whites, African-Americans or Asians.

Dr. Walsh said most Americans may feel uncomfortable bringing up these subject matters on a first date because they feel guilt or regret about their past dating experiences.

“Either we carry a lot of shame about our failed relationships, we want to present a ‘clean slate’ to a future romantic partner, or we are becoming a nation that is emotionally avoidant and tender topics bring us fear,” she said.

The Breakdown: Americans Who Think It’s OK to Discuss Past Relationships On First Dates

By gender:

  • Male: 37%
  • Female: 35%

By sexuality:

  • Straight: 36%
  • Gay: 41%

By marital status:

  • Single, Never Married: 34%
  • Married: 36%
  • Divorced: 42%

By age:

  • 18 to 24: 30%
  • 25 to 34: 38%
  • 35 to 44: 37%
  • 45 to 54: 34%
  • 54 to 64: 40%
  • 65 and older: 36%

By race:

  • White: 38%
  • African-American: 38%
  • Hispanic: 25%
  • Asian: 39%

By income:

  • Under $25,000: 32%
  • $25,000 to $49,999: 37%
  • $50,000 to $74,999: 37%
  • $75,000 to $99,999: 42%
  • $100,000 to $124,999: 46%
  • $125,000 or higher: 37%

By region:

  • Northeast: 34%
  • Midwest: 38%
  • South: 35%
  • West: 36%

Visit DatingAdvice.com/Studies for more research on dating and relationship topics. Relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh is a frequent contributor on CNN and other major networks and is the author of the new book “The 30-Day Love Detox.”

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