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So he’s finally asked you out. Now you need to decide what to wear. Hair up or down? You want to look sexy, but still casual. When you get there, do you hug? Kiss him on the cheek? Give him an awkward wave? First dates can be almost as nerve-racking as a job interview.

To lessen the stress load a little bit on your next first date, we’ve surveyed 17 college guys about the ins and outs of a first date (and what they’re thinking along the way). It’s nice to know they’re usually just as nervous as we are.

Here’s what the guys dished about going out with you that very first time.

Where He Wants to Have the Date

Dinner and drinks is always a classic go-to for a first date. Our boys know this – 35 percent of them chose dinner and drinks for their date of choice. Another 30 percent, though, said they’d rather do something fun with you during the day. This might be a bit surprising, but we actually love this idea. It’s a little more causal than a dinner date and it lets you both feel more relaxed and in your element. Keep this in mind when he asks you on the date. Your first instinct might be to just keep evenings free for time with him, but our survey says leave open a weekend afternoon just in case!

What He’s Thinking Before the Date

While some boys are consumed by nervousness before a date, others are simply hoping for the best. Zachary, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ’15, said he thinks about all of the things that could possibly go wrong. Andrew, Brewster Academy ’12, said he wonders, “What should I say first?” We wish we could put these poor boys at ease and calm their nerves. Here’s what some of the others had to say about their pre-date butterflies:

  • “Don’t mess this up.” Taylor, military.
  • “Is she going to like me? Am I going to like her? What if she thinks this choice of date is lame?” Jason, George Washington University ’14.
  • “Does this match?” Jim, Syracuse ’12.
  • “If this is a blind date, I’m totally scared she’ll be annoying or weird or something. But, if I was the one to ask her out, I’m just excited.” Lenny, Stanford University ’13.
  • “I’m hoping the conversation goes well, I look okay, and that everything goes according to plan.” Forrest, Syracuse University ’12.
  • “Stay calm. Have fun. Make her laugh. Be yourself.” Michael, Roger Williams University ’12.
  • “Be on time.” Anonymous, University of California at Berkeley ’12.

After seeing these responses, we know what the guy needs as soon as you get there: reassurance that you’re excited to be on the date with him. Stop his stomach butterflies with a friendly smile, a quick “Great to see you,” and a hug when you arrive on the scene. We bet he’ll relax at least a little.

What He Wants You to Wear

We asked our guys, if they got to choose your outfit for their date, what would they pick? Almost 40 percent of them chose a sundress. Forrest, Syracuse University ’12, said a sundress is perfect because “it’s classy, sexy, and easy.” Take a cue from boys like Forrest and pick out your cutest summer dress. If he’s taking you out during the day, you’ll look adorable. He chose a dinner date instead? Just add a fun pair of wedges. Some of our guys, like Jim, Syracuse University ’12, weren’t as concerned with what you’re wearing so much as with your ability to choose an outfit that’s appropriate for the location or venue. “A girl with that kind of social awareness who I can bring with me to other events is very special,” he said. This means that even though he might like you in shorts and a cute tank, if he’s taking you out on the town, step up your outfit game a little. Perhaps with, say, a sundress…

How Much Info He Wants You to Spill

This is a tough one. The guys were split on two different ends of the spectrum. 40 percent of them want to know the basics about you – topics like where you’re from and what you’re studying at school. These same guys also want to know a little bit about your plans for the future. Even though it might not matter right now, in terms of thinking about the future of the relationship, it still helps them learn about you. Lenny, Stanford University ’13, said, “I don’t want too many details, but sometimes when a girl tells you something sort of personal, but not dramatically so, you feel like she is more honest overall. I suppose, no matter what we talk about, I want her to be honest and true to herself.” 30 percent of them said they just want to casually chat with you on date one and save the other information for date number two. Since you’ll probably run into guys from both sides of the chart, we suggest dealing with each date differently. Gauge how much of your personal info to spill based on how much your date does. If he’s chatting about his friends and family from home, this is probably a topic that is meaningful to him. Offer some of your own stories about your relatives or 5th grade pool parties. If he’s telling you his career plans or how he wants to move across country, he’s opened up the door for you to talk about your own future plans. Daniel, Florida State University ’12, says to dish out “however much is natural. It’s not a job interview.” No need to overthink it!
What He’s Thinking During the Date

Forrest, Syracuse University ’12, gave a great response to this question. “If I’m thinking about the conversation too much, it’s not going well. Conversation topics should just flow,” he said. On a good date, this will happen. Sometimes though, especially when you’re both nervous, it can get a little quiet. Just don’t acknowledge the silence, and it should pass.

Here’s what some of the other boys said they worry about mid-date:

  • “Let’s see if I can make her laugh…” Jason, George Washington University ’14.
  • “I’m thinking of other questions to ask her based on what she is saying.” Jim, Syracuse University ’12.
  • “I’m wondering what she thinks of me. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what girls are thinking.” Anonymous, Exeter University.
  • “What else should I talk to her about?” Andrew, Brewster Academy ’12.
  • “Don’t mess up.” Taylor, military.
  • “I hope she’s having fun.” Zachary, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’15.
  • “Is complimenting her too much a turn-off?” Michael, Roger Williams University ’12.
  • “Listening. Trying to think of something funny.” Ryan, Syracuse University ’12. 

What He Thinks of What You Order

We want to take this crop of boys out on a date. 80 percent of them said you won’t lose points based on what you order for dinner. Jim, Syracuse University 12, said he doesn’t care what you pick, “but it takes guts to order spaghetti on a first date and slurp through it!” He’s got a point. An anonymous guy from Ohio University says, “Just don’t order a burger bigger than mine – I’ll feel less manly.” The other 20 percent of guys? They’re not fans of picky eaters. If you’re thinking of ordering the taco salad, but without the tortilla chips, no tomatoes please and turkey instead of ground beef, and dressing on the side… just pick something else.

Who Should Pay

We repeat: we want to take this crop of boys out on a date. 90 percent of them said they’ve got the check covered.
Forrest, Syracuse University ’12, said, “Just let me pay – it’s my treat for getting to spend time with you.” As you wish, Forrest. Even though they plan on paying, 35 percent of these guys want you to at least offer. Usually you don’t even have to say anything, just reach for your wallet or purse, and he should tell you it’s on him. Lenny, Stanford University ’13, said, “I usually pay for the meal, but it’s nice if she offers to pay the tip.” It’s a good way to show you enjoyed spending time with him as well.

If He Expects a Kiss

The answers for this one varied, but usually, if you give him a kiss (of any proportion) at the end, it means you’ve enjoyed the date. Jason, George Washington University ’14, said he doesn’t need anything wild, “just a peck to know she’s into me.” Lenny, Stanford University ’13, said that in order to make it to a second date, a kiss is required. “A little one, nothing big, but something.” For him, a kiss determines if you’re game for going out again or just headed for the friend list. Take your pick, ladies.

What He’s Thinking at the End of the Date

These boys definitely know how to end a date the right way. If the date went well, most of these guys hint at planning date number two – vital if both want to see each other again. Brian, Clemson University ’14, says he won’t necessarily plan date number two right away, but he “definitely makes hints” about it. Our anonymous Exeter University boy says he’ll lightly mention meeting up again. Jim, Syracuse University ’12, says he’ll try saying, “This was fun. We should do this again sometime,” and then see how she responds. Forrest, Syracuse University ’12, says, “At the goodbye, a simple mention of date two will let her know where I stand.”

By the answers of these boys, it’s clear that at the end of the date, he’s probably doing a bit of mind and body language reading in an attempt to gauge how much you’re into him without putting all his feelings on the line. You’re probably being careful with your own reactions – trying not to blurt out, “You’re so adorable, can we can hang out tomorrow?!” before you know he even wants a second date. The best thing to do at this point in the date game is to decide where you stand. If he mentions hanging out again or a date number two, you know he’s (even just a little) into you.

On any first date, we’re usually too excited – or nervous – to stay relaxed and let the conversation flow. Keep in mind, though, that the whole point of the first date is to get to know each other, have fun, and find out if you’re interested in hanging out with each other again. On top of this, there has to be mutual interest. The only way to find out if you mesh well together is by staying true to yourself and trying to relax and enjoy the date. If he does the same, you’ll both have a better idea of if you want to take a chance on date number two.

Heather is a 2012 graduate of Syracuse University's Newhouse School with a degree in Magazine Journalism. Growing up in southern Vermont, she learned to appreciate the New England small-town life. During her time at SU she served as Editor-in-Chief of What the Health magazine on her college campus and was a member of the Syracuse chapter of ED2010. This summer Heather is exploring the world of digital entrepreneurship at the Tech Garden in Syracuse, NY where she is Co-Founder of Scrapsule.com. Aside from social media and home decor, she loves vintage jewelry, strawberry banana smoothies, running, and autumn in Vermont.