Celeb matchmaker tells us to ditch the flurry dice and get your car crush-ready

A celeb matchmaker is urging singletons to clean their cars and ditch the fluffy dice – after half of single Brits admitted they are put off adventurous dates because they are embarrassed about being in the car with their crush.

While thrill-seeking singletons were keen to ditch candlelit dinners many deemed sharing a car together to get to their daring escapades a step too far according to a recent survey by Auto Trader.

A prudish two-fifths (38%) of respondents thought driving in the car was more intimate than a KISS and more than half (51%) would be put off because they fear in-car awkward silences while travelling with a potential partner.

In light of this, celebrity matchmaker and star of Married at First Sight UK, Paul Carrick Brunson, has offered in-car etiquette tips to help steer hopeless romantics in the right direction.

Brunson’s guide includes airing your car to ensure bad smells are gone rather than relying on air freshner, cleaning out old takeaway rubbish, not honking your horn and not driving aggressively.

Research commissioned by Auto Trader quizzed 1,000 single Brits on how the pandemic has changed the dating landscape.

More than a fifth (22%) admitted they’d prefer an adventurous date over classic dinner and drinks, while one in ten said they were now more inclined to go on a road trip rather than have a classic date.

However, poor in-car etiquette is putting roadblocks in the way of romance – with 45% admitting they’d only share a car with a partner after the third date.

Singletons gave the red light to a number of in-car actions with more than a third (35%) being turned off by their date smoking or vaping in the car, and their date having a messy car full of old takeaways and food wrappers (34%).

More than a third (33%) found a smelly car a turn off, while more than a fifth (28%) said they’d be unimpressed with their date having road rage.



Celebrity matchmaker Paul Carrick Brunson
Celebrity matchmaker Paul Carrick Brunson

‘Questionable’ accessories, such as fluffy dice, were deemed by a fifth (21%) as something that left them cold.

Of those quizzed, 19% feared their date may prop their feet on the dashboard, while 10% hated the idea of a date changing the radio channel without asking.

Single Brits also confessed to their own in-car ‘bad habits’, with women proving themselves the messier sex, being more likely to have a dirty car and a car full of old takeaway and food wrappers than men.

In a bid to banish in-car fears, love guru Paul has created a handy guide on how couples can fuel the conversation while travelling together on a road trip date.

Paul suggests asking open-ended versus closed questions to spark a more meaningful discussion. Easy light topics could include their interests such as travel, food and music or, it could be as simple as asking them for their top Netflix recommendations.



Celebrity matchmaker Paul Carrick Brunson
Celebrity matchmaker Paul Carrick Brunson

Using follow-up questions to demonstrate you’re interested in the topic and encourage deeper conversation. This also shows that you’re listening, something that is key to securing the green light for another date

Adjusting your tone and pace to align with the person answering your question – this is called ‘parroting’ and will help to build rapport between you and your date.

While you can’t give eye contact while driving, at traffic lights be sure to glance over and look your date in the eye.

This shows you’re attuned to what they’re saying and will communicate genuine care and interest in a non-verbal manner.

Paul Carrick Brunson said: “Dating has changed beyond recognition over the last 18 months and it’s important that our attitudes change too.

“Our idea of what constitutes a good first date has moved on. Where once daters might have favoured a boozy outing to overcome nerves, now they are looking for an adventure.

“What better adventure than a road trip? The in-car etiquette guide I’ve created with Auto Trader gives helpful pointers to overcome any in-car faux pas.

“This puts the brakes on those bad in-car habits and gives single Brits the confidence to ‘carpool up’ and organise a memorable date.”

Erin Baker, editorial director at Auto Trader, said: “Our research proves how many single Brits need help when on a car journey with a date.

“As Britain’s biggest matchmaker, we wanted to help people navigate any awkward car journeys and overcome bad habits so they can carpool and go on the adventurous dates they desire.”

Five biggest turn-offs

  • Their date smoking or vaping in the car (35%)
  • Their date having a messy car full of old takeaway/food wrappers (34%)
  • Their date having a smelly car (33%)
  • Their date having road rage (28%)
  • Their date having ‘questionable’ accessories such as fluffy dice (21%)

How to give the green light to love

  • Breakdowns are never fun on a date – whether that’s you, your date or your car. If you spot dashboard warning lights or your car is making noises that it shouldn’t – get it checked out before you set off
  • Clean your car both inside and out – your date is unlikely to be impressed by old boxes of chicken nuggets
  • Leave plenty of time for traffic when picking your date up, especially if it’s the first time travelling to their house
  • Stop to fill up with petrol if you’re running low, prior to picking your date up
  • Greet your date at the door to show you have good manners from the get-go
  • Be open to some in-car musical collaboration and ask your date what music they would like to listen to
  • Check with your date that they’re comfortable with the car temperature – it’s not good to play it too cool
  • If you’re the passenger, keep your phone tucked away and pay attention to your date

What to steer clear off

  • Avoid using any strong-smelling car fresheners to cover any bad smells – it’s better to air your car and use a more subtle scent
  • Don’t beep your horn when you arrive to pick your date up – this just sets an impatient tone to your trip
  • Don’t crank your music up too loud – you don’t want to deafen your date when you start the car
  • If you’re the driver, do not drive aggressively – this is a date trip, not Mario Kart
  • Don’t nervously play with the air con or music volume – ask questions or play a fun in-car game to get to know each other
  • Don’t vape or smoke in the car (especially if you’re the passenger) Try to fill your date’s heart with love, rather than their lungs with smoke
  • Don’t put your feet up on the dashboard – this is a big no, we really must put our foot down on this one
  • Don’t text while driving
  • Don’t drive without due care and attention
  • Don’t order alcoholic drinks if you’re driving