With V-day right around the corner, the pressure to please your girl is at an all-time high. She’s got expectations; you’re lost in the candy aisle at CVS. Sound about right? No need to panic. We’ve got some advice on how to treat your lady like a queen—from a real one, Miss New York USA, Joanne Nosuchinsky. The 24-year-old, who is set to compete in Miss USA later this year, tells us the sweetest thing a guy has ever done for her, what makes a great date, and what women really want on February 14. 

Men’s Fitness: What do you look for in a guy? 
Joanne Nosuchinsky: I’m looking for a guy who works out and takes pride in his appearance. Fitness is a big part of my life, so I would need to have that in common with someone who I’m dating or could potentially date. You don’t have to have 4 percent body fat by any means, and it’s not a matter of being a Greek god, but you should be strong, healthy, and confident in your body. Your clothes should also fit well and you should know how to dress appropriately for different scenarios. Some might call this metrosexual; I just call it handsome.

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Do you have any pet peeves?
One of my biggest pet peeves is when men spit. Seriously. I know you might need to do it, but when you are in the presence of a woman and you turn your head and spit on the sidewalk, it bothers me. It’s like there’s no chivalry. It’s gross.

If a guy saw you out at a bar, what could he do to make a great first impression?
I don’t really like cheesy pickup lines. If a guy is with his friends and he separates himself from the group and approaches me in a casual way, that’s probably best. And I love jokes, so anyone who can make me laugh and make me feel really comfortable usually attracts me the most.
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What would your perfect date be? Have you had any really bad ones?
Perfect date? I’m old-fashioned, so dinner, and maybe not a movie, but a Broadway show, because I love Broadway theater. And a date where you can include a lot of talking about shared interests. I’ve had a lot of bad dates. In New York there are a bunch of characters!

If a guy wanted to surprise a girl, what should he do?
Anything sentimental and anything that’s non-technological. I think guys get very set in their ways in terms of technology—texting hello, shooting an email—but there’s nothing like a handwritten note or poem, or flowers that he hand delivers. Things that have personal touches are really nice.

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What’s a good gift to give a woman if you’re in a new relationship?
Shoes. Always shoes for every gift. Just kidding! I always say that the earliest gifts should be the ones that let you create memories together. So, as opposed to a pair of shoes, maybe the first time around it could be a shopping trip you take together. Or do something exciting, like go rock climbing if you’re both really active. I think that those sorts of things, especially early on, can help build the relationship.

What is the sweetest thing a guy has ever done for you?
Oh boy, there are so many! But here’s one: I was in a college production, and before the show, he surprised me. There was a huge bouquet of flowers waiting for me, which I wasn’t expecting because he had to work that evening. It’s all about making an effort.

Guys say girls are confusing. What piece of advice could help men understand women better?
Probably just listening. Listen for little clues. Often we say one thing when we mean another. And you can tell when we’re not happy. So really, just listen and be mindful of our attitude when we’re saying things.

Want to learn more about Miss New York USA? Read Joanne’s blog or check her out on Facebook and Twitter.