Gentlemen, we’ve all been there. You’ve already accomplished the most difficult part, you’ve asked the girl out and she said yes. But then there’s the date. The first date specifically. There’s the awkward hello, then the side hug, and your anxiety overtakes as you try to figure out where you’re going or who’s paying. It’s the first date jitters and you don’t want to fall flat on your face.

Dating seems passé in the age of always turned on, always plugged in social media. A swarm of snaps, tweets, texts and Tinder messages consumes us every day. In the flurry of work, school and our sprawling digitized social lives, who has time to sit down and actually get to know someone in real life? Yet, more and more, our culture is recognizing the need for physical communication in our digital world. In his book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On,” Wharton School of Business professor, Jonah Berger, emphasizes that the most effective communication can be found in the physical, daily interactions of people, not the incorporeal world of data transfers online.

Dating really isn’t all that complicated. It is one of our culture’s most enduring rites of passage. And now, more than ever, it’s important to know exactly how to date. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time in our overworked, overbooked age. So gentlemen, it’s time to add some style and thought to your dating game. We will give you the tools to make your first date a success and ladies, please indulge us for a moment as we help add some class to the men in your life.


Back to Basics

Style

Style isn’t just how well you dress – more importantly – it’s a mindset. The key to a successful date is developing a positive state of mind. Some call it swagger, but really it’s called confidence. Popular knowledge asserts ladies love a bad boy, but I can guarantee you, what they like even more is a confident man who knows his place in the universe. Of course, you should also dress for the occasion. Clean up a little, trim your beard, get a haircut and don’t wear a hat. Don’t overdo the cologne and definitely don’t use ANYTHING that comes from a can. If you’re still using Axe Body Spray, put down this magazine and immediately throw it away or give it to your 11-year-old brother.

Nerves

Don’t stress too much. Honestly, she is probably as nervous as you are. If you can’t control the nerves, sit down, drink a beer and relax. If you think alcohol would have an opposite effect, try finding somewhere quiet to sit and focus your mind. If you’re driving to pick her up, turn off the music. Getting your head in the right place before the date even begins will set you on the path to success.


The Date

Location, location, location

Whatever you do, don’t take your date to a chain restaurant. Yeah it may be more expensive than Applebee’s, but seriously gentlemen, a restaurant at a mall is still a restaurant at a mall. Don’t do what every other guy she’s been on a date with has done; find something unique, outside the beaten path, maybe something with a view other than a field of asphalt and cars. North Florida has quite an offering when it comes to independent restaurants, so find something that you feel would fit the occasion and call and see if they take reservations. If they don’t, ask them when they are the busiest and plan your date accordingly so you don’t have to wait an hour. There is nothing more agonizing than waiting to sit down and eat.

Plan ahead; look at the menu online if you haven’t been there before and don’t order anything too heavy. Figure out what you want beforehand so you can exude confidence when ordering your food. Also, have a couple suggestions ready in case your date asks.

Know the plan afterward. If the date is looking like a bust, don’t drag it on. Let her go and say goodnight. If the tide is in your favor, make sure you have a couple options lined up – whether it’s a bar or a coffee shop. Ask her what she wants to do. She’ll probably ask your opinion, and –  BAM! – you have already thought about this and give her a couple options.

*A note on drinks: Men, have a signature drink. That way you don’t flounder at the bar and look indecisive. If she can’t decide, have a couple suggestions lined up for each type of alcohol and ask her favorite spirit. If she says rum, order a Hemmingway. If she’s a little experimental, order a Sidecar. Don’t order generic light beer.

The Tab

Listen, it’s not the 1950s. If she insists on paying, then let her pay – it’s not your duty to enforce outdated cultural norms. However, never assume this is the case. There is a measure of respectability in a man who can pick up the tab. Tip well, in fact, tip more than you usually would. She may not see this, but it injects a boost of confidence during the date. Plus, knowing you’re making the server’s night with a generous tip just reinforces the positive state of mind you’ve been cultivating during the date.

Conversation

Don’t talk about yourself or what you do. In fact, don’t talk about yourself at all – pay attention to her. Turn off your phone. Don’t even think about touching it. Instagram will still be there in two hours, your Snaps aren’t going anywhere, and you can text your bros back later. If you do have to talk about yourself, talk about ideas or things you’re passionate about. Passion piques a girl’s interest more than how much you lift or your collection of comic books. Girls are more interested in those synapses firing off in your brain – they want to know what makes you tick. They are comparing you to other guys and are trying to figure out if you’re even worth their time.


Afterward

Sex

Here’s all we can say – be smart, be safe, and no means no. Period. This isn’t the reason you went on the date. You went on the date for the pleasure of getting to know another human being. Don’t let the carnal aspect of dating get in the way of what is most important: respecting the other person.

The Next Date

Toward the end of the date you know for sure whether you like the person or not. If you do, don’t hesitate to schedule when you’ll next see each other. Right away. Don’t wait. If you like them, own it and let them know. If the date was a bomb, chances are, you both are probably at an understanding. Be polite, thank them for the evening, and part ways. If you don’t immediately plan on the next time you are going to see each other, it’s pretty clear it probably won’t happen. And that’s okay; because now you know how to really go on a date, so start planning another one with someone else.