Breaking up or getting divorce

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NEW YORK — Were you the anti-hero of your last relationship? A new survey suggests 70 percent of younger singles claim they were the reason their past relationships fizzled out. A poll of 2,000 Gen-Z and millennial American singles reveals they also feel like the anti-hero in their current dating adventures. In fact, 61 percent of men and 50 percent of women think they caused their most recent dates to go poorly.

Moreover, 75 percent of men believe they “know exactly” what they did to botch their dates, including looking at their phone too much (46%), arriving late (39%) and not offering to pick up the bill (39%). Overall, 75 percent claim their past relationships were a learning experience and 60 percent are actively working on improving themselves for future relationships. With that in mind, 93 percent believe their efforts will pay off and lead them directly to finding “The One.”

Commissioned by dating app Plenty of Fish in partnership with nonprofit A Call to Men and conducted by OnePoll, the results show that nearly three-quarters (74%) of singles — including 80 percent of men and 69 percent of women — think future partners would consider their dating history a “plus.”

“The data shows that the vast majority of singles are actually quite cognizant of the habits or behaviors that are potentially sabotaging their dates or relationships,” says Shannon Smith, public relations director at Plenty of Fish, in a statement. “As a result, they are putting in the effort to build on their experiences to become more compassionate communicators, better listeners, and generally more self-aware – thereby creating a more welcoming environment to date better.”

relationship anti-hero

Time to be a better you

The survey also reveals the most popular ways singles are working to improve themselves for their future partners. These include going to therapy and working through past trauma (37%), exercising (37%), getting more sleep (36%), consuming self-improvement content like books and podcasts (35%), and prioritizing self-care (33%).

As a result of their efforts to improve themselves, respondents say they are learning how to consider the feelings of others (43%), learning how to appreciate the little things (39%), and learning about the importance of appreciating love languages (38%). One in three (35%) have found learning new and better ways to communicate and listen especially helpful. Over three-quarters (77%) believe the benefits of self-improvement can extend across multiple areas of their life, including dating.

“Whether singles are meeting potential partners in app or IRL, the experience should feel low pressure, welcoming and fun – but it can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin,” continues Smith. “My suggestion is to first look inwards. When you’re happy with who you are, you’re better equipped to love others.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 single or casually dating Americans, aged 18–26 and 27–41 was commissioned by Plenty of Fish in partnership with A Call to Men between January 18 and January 25, 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).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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