Sure, being good-looking and charming will certainly make you more of a catch. But there’s an even more crucial component to attracting others that’s so simple we almost feel weird saying it: make your date feel good-looking and charming. Do that, and trust us... this person will be back for more. In a day and age when the romantic options out there are seemingly endless, it’s easy to feel like you are just a number. Prove you think the cutie sitting across from you is one of a kind, though, and it can make a huge difference. But how do you make someone feel, well, special? It’s not as hard as you think — just try these six tips and watch your love interest light up.

Way #1: Get specific with your praise
Since daters often feel like they’re just one amongst a parade of people having coffee with you, demonstrate some genuine interest in the next one you meet to help erase that fear. “We studied the relationship between reciprocity and romance and found that if someone thinks you’re attracted to him or her, it increases that person’s attraction to you,” says Eli Finkel, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Northwestern University. On the other hand, “If someone’s attracted to you but getting the sense that you’re attracted to lots of other people, he or she will tend to dislike you.” The upshot? Prove you’re picky (and that this person fits your high criteria). Then you’re well on your way to making this potential amour pick you, too. Reread his or her profile right before you meet up and tell your date exactly why it stood out from the rest and what you noticed first. And nix any mentions of past bad dates or other negative experiences, which can make it inadvertently seem like you’ll give anyone the time of day.
View Singles on
Way #2: Create insider info to share between the two of you
You don’t have to be old friends to cultivate a comfortable rapport with someone. “Make references to things you’ve discussed or emailed about,” says dating coach Annie Dennison, Ph.D. “It creates a sense of intimacy and shows your date you’re really listening.” To really drive home that you find your date fascinating, ask for more information on details he or she mentioned in passing (“I know you like Jay-Z. Which album of his do you think I should download?”). Or tie together stories (yours or your date’s) with a follow-up line like, “Wow, that reminds me of what you were telling me about your trip to Costa Rica/your overbearing boss/football obsession.”

Way #3: Congratulate your date on a recent accomplishment
If you want your sweetie to really beam, show you’re impressed by a feat that he or she is especially proud of. “We did a study and found that when people told others about something good that happened to them and the person responded positively, it improved the whole experience,” Shelly Gable, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. So don’t just say “Cool!” when your date mentions a win like getting into grad school, finishing a marathon, or just getting an amazing deal at an outlet store. Get into it and ask what he felt when he got the news, how she reacted, which person he told first, or how long she’d been hoping for it to happen. Answering the questions will let your date relive some of the excitement — and associate you with an unexpectedly happy buzz.

Way #4: Compliment qualities that are completely unrelated to the other person’s looks
When you admire a not-so-obvious trait that your date has, it makes you seem super-insightful. An easy place to start is by connecting his or her job to a quality you appreciate. Tell an accountant that you’re always especially envious of detail-oriented people; tell a teacher you’re in awe of those who can motivate others. If you like what your date is wearing or how this person decorated his or her home, “don’t compliment the ‘thing’ — anyone can buy a thing — but call out what it says about him or her,” says Susan Rabin, author of How to Attract Anyone, Anytime, Anyplace: The Smart Guide to Flirting. Instead of the tie itself, praise the person’s individual style; instead of muttering “nice couch,” say you’re wowed by people who have an eye for color and design.

Way #5: Emphasize your date’s name in your verbal responses during conversation
When someone shares an anecdote, most of us fall back on interjections like “No way!” or “Wow, that’s crazy!” The problem is, those encouragements also sound suspiciously like clichés — especially once you’ve used them several times in one evening. A better way to punctuate your partner’s story? “Use his or her name,” advises Dr. Dennison. Hearing a specific name — whether it’s “Wow, Sheila, you’re so brave!” or “Way to go, Jeremy, I’m impressed!” — will make dates think you really get what’s so “them” about the tale they just told, which is way more flattering than wondering if you were listening at all.

Way #6: Playfully tease your date
If you saw the movie The Departed, you probably remember the scene when Matt Damon asks his date something like: “What makes you think I want a second date with you?” — then bursts out laughing. It turns out that those childhood playground tormentors we all remember (“Ewww, you have cooties!”) were actually onto something. “Thinking someone is attracted to you is great, but our research also suggests that not being sure about it actually heightens the excitement,” says Paul Eastwick, Ph.D., Finkel’s research partner at the Northwestern Relationships Lab. Hearing that kind of rejection can spike feelings of anxiety — then fill you with relief when you realize it was a gag. So if you’re sure your date has a good sense of humor, give him or her a little ribbing first: “Oh no, you’re an Aquarius? Shoot, I have a rule about that.” Not only do you get to have an instant inside joke, it sends a subtle message that you’re into your date enough to be comfortable joking about it. Just make sure you don’t tease about something the person’s sensitive about — that’s not flirting; that’s an insult.

Caitlin Ascolese is a freelance writer in New York City.