Who doesn't like being appreciated? Instead of waiting for a reason to show our dates how much we appreciate them, let's just do it! Even the simplest gestures go a long way toward making the person you're seeing feel great about dating you. "The foundation of a loving relationship is mutual appreciation and respect," says Jill Spiegel, author of The Flirtologist's Guide To Dating. "Celebrating the person you're dating makes your connection healthy, loving and positive."
Here are 20 ways to do it:
1. Put it in writing: Edie Raether, author of Sex for the Soul says, "A handmade card means much more than an expensive gift. It is the thought that counts!"
2. Go out and buy something you know your date wants, but hasn't gotten around to purchasing.
3. "My girlfriend never has time to pay bills or pick up dry cleaning, so I always offer to handle that for her," notes Dom Patterson of Newark, NJ.
4. Get an autographed picture of your date's all-time favorite movie star, author or sports figure.
5. Patti Henry, author of The Emotionally Unavailable Man: A Blueprint for Healing, advocates simply paying attention. "Those who listen get to have deeper, more meaningful connections. If you show a genuine interest, they will go to a deeper level of sharing with you."
6. At your date's place and getting ready to leave? Follow this tip from Dimitri Petrushka of Boston: "I put a cute note on her pillow."
7. Find out your date's favorite childhood meal and fix some surprise comfort food.
8. Terri Orbuch, Detroit's "Love Doctor", says, "Call your date's voicemail at work and leave a wonderful message in the a.m. so when he or she gets in, that is the first thing the person hears."
9. "Write a love letter," suggests Steve Peters of Issaquah, WA. "Tell her not what you like about her, but how and why what you like makes your life better."
10. Get his or her car washed and detailed, then fill the tank.
11. Victorya Michaels Rogers, author of Finding a Man Worth Keeping, advises, "Flatter your date with genuine, specific flattery, not superficial generic words. Everyone is positively affected by genuine flattery and will come back for more."
12. Send flowers - even to men. Not your style? Send a bouquet of balloons.
13. "It's corny, but call or email when you think about your date during the day," notes Nancy Tarczinski of Atlanta.
14. "I always check in after one of our dates - I let her know I'm looking forward to seeing her again," says Dave Steuben of Queens, NY.
15. Jackie Woods, author of Soulmate or Cell-mate: A Guide to Healthy Relationships, suggests making a scrapbook of special shared times.
16. Spend some quiet time together, lying on the couch or sitting by the fire.
17. "Every once in a while I just look her deep in the eyes and tell her I'm glad I found her," relates David Herrera of Austin. "It seems to do the trick."
18. Make a small sacrifice: "Every so often I go bowling with a date, even though I don't really enjoy it," notes Pamela Angelo of Sarasota. "I get a kick out of seeing him have so much fun."
19. "Say it with baked goods," says Karen Ellsworth of Columbia, SC. "I sent a gourmet pound cake to my man's office. It not only showed him I cared about him, but his co-workers, too."
20. Language expert Steve Peha says that sometimes the simplest and most direct approach is the most effective, "Express your appreciation face-to-face in a way the other person can't discount. Give your date a compliment that focuses on you instead of on them. Say something like, -When I'm with you, I feel ___________.' This way they can't demur or shake off the compliment."
Using any of these tips will ensure that your date always feels honored, respected and valued.
Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer in Carrboro, NC, whose work also appears in Go magazine and the Los Angeles Business Journal.
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