Is cringe culture hot? Singles say embracing nerdy habits can help you find ‘the one’

NEW YORK — Three in four singles agree: “embracing your cringe” and being true to yourself will help you find your perfect cringe counterpart. According to a poll of 2,000 Gen Z and millennial singles, one-third say people should embrace their “cringey” habits, rather than avoid them. Likewise, 63 percent agree that embracing their cringe can even help them find “the one.”

Although what’s cringey can be completely subjective, nearly half (47%) of today’s singles consider themselves more cringe than cool. Two in three find it attractive when dates are their authentic selves. This includes 74 percent who find it attractive when a date shares things they nerd out about. This could be their personal passions or a specific, niche hobby.

Commissioned by Plenty of Fish and conducted by OnePoll, the survey explores the rise of “cringe culture” and its impact on dating, including how cringe behaviors or interests impact a potential connection and what younger singles consider to be cringe today.

It’s clear today’s daters are seeking connections that are rooted in authenticity. In fact, 73 percent confirm they aren’t afraid to reveal things about themselves that might be considered cringe on a first date.

“Our research gives tangible proof that dating as your most authentic self, cringey interests and all, can and will help singles find a true and meaningful connection,” says Resident Dating Expert at Plenty of Fish Eva Gallagher, in a statement. “Being open and honest about who you really are, including your cringes, is something that should be shared with potential partners in-app or on first dates, to provoke more interesting conversations, stronger connections, and better matches.”

The survey also finds being true to one’s self may even lead to a confidence boost for singles. Although 68 percent of respondents claim they usually feel confident about themselves before a first date, 73 percent say they’d feel more confident if they both shared cringes beforehand.

Similarly, another three-quarters (73%) believe that sharing their unique personality quirks or traits is an important step when getting to know a potential partner.

What is cringe on a first date?

While today’s singles are embracing their nerdy habits, they universally agree on what is considered cringey. This includes mainstream interests or hobbies (59%), bad manners (52%), and awkward or embarrassing interactions (49%).

Bad manners, on the other hand, are considered a red flag or absolute deal breaker for the majority of singles (54%).

“When both parties are true to themselves, the likelihood of fostering a deeper, more meaningful connection increases,” continues Gallagher. “With that said, everyone has their own set of limits and boundaries, so trust your gut in terms of what feels too cringey, vs. just cringey enough. You may be surprised – many things that singles once thought were cringe are actually now seen as cool!”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 single or casually dating Americans aged 18 – 42 was commissioned by Plenty of Fish between August 11 and August 16, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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