Based on a social relations perspective on mating, the actual and assumed reciprocity of mate choices was studied in a real-life speed-dating context. A community sample involving 382 singles aged 18–54 years filled out a questionnaire for the measurement of self-perceived mate value, sociosexuality, extraversion, and shyness and participated in free speed-dating sessions. Immediately after each date, choices and assumed choices were recorded. Measures of physical attractiveness and flirting behaviour were obtained by independent observers. Results show that actual mate choices are not reciprocal although people strongly expect their choices to be reciprocated and flirting behaviour is indeed strongly reciprocal. This interesting pattern of results was explained by investigating individual and dyadic effects of flirting, self-perceived mate value and physical attractiveness on mate choices. Results have important implications for understanding mating behaviour, sex differences and the (in)accuracies of mating decisions. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.