First dates are interesting because they’re completely full of possibility. You could be walking into a nightmare of a story that you’ll end up telling for the rest of your life, or you might be sitting down to drinks with your future spouse. Or one of about a million other options in between, you never know. That being said there’s only so much prep you can do. Like for a third date you know what you’re getting into and how she might love to do what you have planned, but at the very start you just have to dive in and hope for the best for both of you. You can’t get inside of her mind completely on the first date, but there are some general thoughts to be aware of. Here’s what she’s really thinking about on a first date…as well as what she isn’t.

How she looks.

Yes, your date is absolutely thinking about what she looks like but maybe not in the way that you might expect. The intricacies of a woman’s beauty routine can be deep. Like she might know she looks great and have no concerns about her general attractiveness, but she still might wonder if you can tell that her roots are growing out and she’s due for some highlights. She might worry that her eyeliner will start to clump in the inner corner of her eyes and make her look like a goober.

If you’re eating she will definitely hope that she’s at least slightly appealing while shoving pizza in her mouth and hoping that there isn’t cilantro stuck in all of her teeth.

What she should order.

Generally there’s no discussion ahead of time about things like who’s going to cover the bill, and different people have different ideas about stuff like that, but often the assumption is that the guy is paying. We really love that, thanks! But when we know you’re paying we’re also going to think more carefully about what we should order because we’re polite and we don’t want to wipe you out on day one.  You might say order whatever we want but do you mean it? Have you noticed how expensive some of those bottles of wine are on that wine list? Aye carumba. We’re going to take a look at what sounds great and then assess the prices and go with a cheaper option so that you don’t hate us. If we like the looks of you we might also view the menu with the consideration about what is the least likely to make us smell like a stalk of garlic.

If she sounds like a normal person.

Unlike random chats with someone that you’ve known forever, what you talk about on a first date is pretty important. One person or one topic of conversation can’t dominate the entire date since the idea is to get to know one another, but then there are also a lot of topics that are semi-off limits. So when we’ve been telling a story for a few minutes we might have moments of wondering whether we’ve said too much or if this is even an interesting story at all.

If you sound like a normal person.

Naturally she’s also assessing what you say and why. If you start talking about your ex she might see that as a red flag. If you talk about yourself and not ask enough questions about her she will certainly see that as a red flag. If you don’t act interested in us we’re going to assume that you just aren’t interested. But we also pay attention to things like whether you seem to have a positive outlook about life in general or if you sound like a miserable dude, that sort of thing. People tend to be on their best behavior on first dates and at the beginning of relationships, so if we’re quite turned off by something that you say or do right at the beginning we’re going to take it seriously.

Your sex appeal.

We’re not on dates to find more guy friends, we’re looking for someone who ideally can be both our friend and our sexy bedmate at the same time. Your attractiveness goes past your looks, although most of us care about all of it. So yes, we will be checking you out to see what you look like as well as what kind of a person you are. When we’re sitting there talking to you we will definitely notice if we can imagine kissing you or if that idea sounds like an unappealing one. And if we look at your mouth and think “yeah I’d like to kiss that,” then we’ll also of course consider the fact that we might sleep with you at some point.

When that might be, of course, varies from person to person. Some people feel like the first date is the perfect time to see if there’s actually some chemistry there, while other people are content knowing that the chemistry exists and would prefer to wait a few dates. But either way we’ll think about it while we’re sitting there sipping on our wine.  

If you seem like marriage material.

Don’t want to scare you guys or anything, but women assess your values, goals, and characteristics because we want to know whether you’re the real deal. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re trying to marry you or anyone else at the moment, but it’s certainly something that we think about. We might casually date someone that we don’t actually take that seriously, but when we do take you seriously there’s a strong mental note being jotting down in there. Which will then be passed along to our friends later. “No seriously he loves kids.”

How you’re similar to her ex (or not.)

We all have exes, that’s a part of life. Some of them are more recent than others, and some of those failed relationships leave us more sensitive than others. But we’re always going to remember our exes good or bad, and note how other men are similar to them or refreshingly different. It’s not like we’re necessarily sizing you up in hopes that you compare, but yeah there can be a little of that too. But sometimes we just hope that you’re not at all like our ex. Let’s say we’ve had a habit of choosing the wrong types of guys in the past and we’re trying to change. We have the awareness, now we need to follow through on it. Which means that we need to be aware what we like about you and if it’s for the right reasons.  

Details that she needs to tell her friends.

She might be completely focused on you in the moment but she’ll also be filing away things that she can’t wait to tell her best friend. The cute things, the funny things, the potentially weird things, a lot of things. There are things to gain from this sharing process, including lots of perspective from people who know us well. I know that some guys talk details about their dating lives to their friends and some don’t, but I’ve never met a girl that didn’t want to share every detail. And when I say every detail, I mean every detail.

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