1. Call her.
In this day and age of texting overload, you will absolutely distinguish yourself as a suitor if you make the effort to dial her digits to show you’re serious. Real connections happen through real-time conversation, and even by leaving a voicemail checking in to say hi, she’ll likely start to dig you more if she was into you in the first place. You should still text her from time to time to show her she’s on your mind, but texting should not be your primary form of communication.
2. Grab the check.
Even with the female gender making advancements in the workplace, it is a nice chivalrous gesture for the first four or five dates to grab at the check to show you are making an investment getting to know her. Be warned that even if she says “I can split,” she secretly wants you to pay. Just like men test women (and want to see the obligatory wallet reach), women test men to see if they accept their offer. To play it safe (just in case she is more traditional and decisive on these matters), I would insist on paying up until a point of exclusivity. It’s fine if you don’t take her to lavish, expensive meals each time — but paying each time signals your interest and will prevent her from potentially writing you off immediately.
3. Make the first date in her neighborhood. (Then ask if you can walk her home.)
When setting the first date, make it convenient for her and in her hood. So long as she is not actively sick of her area, she’ll appreciate having it on her home turf. After the date, ask if you can walk her home. If she has not run away by now with some excuse on having to meet another friend or family member who is having an emergency, you can take that as a sign it went well. If she is fine with revealing where she lives to you and doesn’t think you’ll become a stalker, this is a nice touch to show you care about her protection and want to make sure she gets home safe.
4. Buy her a small token gift that shows you’re paying attention.
Did she mention she’s a huge fan of a particular band in passing? Get concert tickets for the next date. Is she always carrying a specific type of beverage, whether that is a brand of coffee or tea? Bring her a cup of it next time you see her. Has she expressed that she’s in search of a new iPhone case? Buy one for her in her favorite color, out of the blue with no particular occasion. If she already likes you, this will make her heart melt a little more and not come off creepy.
5. Make concrete follow-up plans.
Coming from someone who is more afraid of being hurt than being alone, I think it should be incumbent upon the guy to set the first few dates and make specific follow-up plans until you’re only seeing each other. While there may be slightly more proactive girls out there who are fine with taking the lead, it can often set up a pattern of complacency. I think most women appreciate when guys lead to remove the uncertainty of wanting to see each other again. If you think it comes off too eager to make follow-up plans while you’re on the date (guys — in line with other articles that have been written, let’s immediately get off this dating trend of seeing who can act more aloof), at least send a text the next day indicating you’d like to set another date and will be in touch. If you will be out of town or have another reason you can’t meet for a week, make sure she knows you still want to see her and propose an actual specific day to get together after you get back. (We all know the all-too-common fade-away begins with vague, non-specific “I’ll call you when I get back into town.”)
6. Linguistically match her.
This is a subtle form of mirroring, but studies have shown that people who speak and write similarly are likely to be happier together than those who don’t. Makes sense, considering you often want to be on the same “level” as the person you are dating, and same level can often mean sophistication of prose. By matching her in the way she communicates, you are showing that you literally are speaking her “language” and on the same page. This helps show that you “get her” and will only increase her affection for you.
7. Cook her dinner.
One that involves more effort than heating up some Chef Boyardee’s. First, it will signal that you are good with reversing gender norms and stepping up in the kitchen, and two, show that you can provide her actual sustenance. I know I speak on behalf of many women out there who say (similar to men) that our stomachs are the way to our hearts. Plus, there is nothing sexier than seeing a guy show his chops in the kitchen. (Bonus points if you use actual adult place settings and silverware instead of disposable plates.)