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I have to admit, I know a thing or two about being stuck in the stage between meeting a nice guy and landing the first date. In fact, a lot of times women who are uncomfortable making the first move feel like the situation is out of their control. I know I often feel that way, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The truth is, it's a labyrinth out there. Sometimes we just know that the guy we are talking to is into us—and we think our interest in the guy is obvious as well. But too often men just don’t pick up on the cues. It's not that the guy you're interested in is dumb, it's more likely that you are not speaking his language. I have always felt that a guy should be the one to just go for it, but that doesn't acknowledge that for the man there is risk of rejection involved—and that rejection is something most guys want to mitigate.

But that doesn't mean that if you prefer for the guy to make the first move, your hands are tied. There are ways to communicate your interest effectively without feeling like you have killed the thrill of the chase. If you’ve found that telepathy isn't getting the job done, here are five subtle—and not so subtle—things you can actively do to show him you’re definitely interested. I know I'll be putting them into practice!

01. Flirt a little.

One of the biggest misconceptions in the dating world is that playing hard to get will make him more interested. There are a lot of problems with that strategy, but the most important thing to note is that it’s deceptive. If you like someone, then the last thing you want to do is ignore him or pretend he doesn’t matter. So don’t do yourself a disservice by pretending to be something you’re not—maybe give flirting a try instead.

As Verily’s relationships editor, Monica Gabriel Marshall, explains, flirting that focuses on being engaging and authentic is a great way to let a guy know you are approachable and interested. Flirting shows that you're confident in who you are, and it also gives you an opportunity to put your best foot forward. What are your interests? What kinds of jokes do you think are funny? Opening up about yourself is another great way to be flirty and lets a guy know that you’re not scary or intimidating.

02. Stay positive.

Sometimes it can feel like the easiest conversation straws to grasp at are negative ones: terrible weather, loud music, crowded room. But the truth is, nothing’s a bigger turnoff than a negative attitude. Negativity of any kind makes people feel self-conscious and insecure about what you might think of them—and that’s not the kind of vibe you want to be giving the cute guy you are hoping will ask you out.

It’s OK to use shared experience—even if it’s a negative one—to build a connection, but you should make sure that one negative thing doesn’t dominate the conversation. Instead, try to steer the conversation to something you’ve learned from that situation. Start a conversation about things you both love—because ultimately it’s your likes you have in common, not your dislikes, that will show him what he’s missing.

03. Open up your circle.

Ask Verily Gentlemen Speak contributor Justin Petrisek, and he will tell you that nothing intimidates a guy more than the prospect of breaking up a closed-off circle of girls.

According to Petrisek, it’s important to make sure men feel welcome to the conversation (if indeed they are!), especially if you’re all talking in a big group—and especially if that group is all women. It’s fine if you’re at a party and you naturally gravitate toward your girlfriends, but if you want to strike up a conversation with a guy, make sure your body language is telling the same story. Invite him over to ask him a question, and take the opportunity to introduce him to your friends. He’ll appreciate that you took the time to make him comfortable, and it may just make him want that one-on-one date experience you’ve been waiting for.

04. Use body language to your advantage.

When it comes to letting a guy know that you’re interested in him, it’s not just about what you say but how you say it. As Verily contributor Julia Hogan, LPC, explains, body language reveals a lot. The truth is, the same conversation is going to look a lot different when you’re talking to a potential boyfriend versus a random guy on the street. As Hogan explains, open and interested body language doesn’t have to mean overly flirtatious and touchy with him; you just need to practice good listening skills. Lean in, maintain eye contact, and show him you’re interested by nodding along or flashing the occasional smile. Although the research does show that men don’t pick up on body language quite as easily as women, being intentional about your body language will certainly help.

05. Make the first move.

At the end of the day, you can only drop so many hints. If you’ve tried all of the above and nothing seems to be working, then it may be time to take a more direct approach. As Verily Gentlemen Speak contributor Isaac Huss explains, something as simple as telling him that you like spending time with him could be the thing that finally shows him you’re interested. Keep up the good conversation, throw some compliments in the mix, ask him about his dating life, give him your number, or maybe just flat out tell him to ask you out. He may be caught a little off guard, but the good news is there’s no way he can misconstrue that, and he can take it from there. Maybe you just did him a huge favor—he may have been trying to work up the courage to do that for a while.

Don’t forget, if you know a guy is totally picking up what you’re putting down, shall we say, there’s always the option to just ask him out on a date. For some women this is their go-to and for others it’s a last resort, but regardless, it is an absolutely foolproof way to show him that you’re open and interested. And you never know, maybe that’s what he was hoping for all along.

Photo Credit: Shannon Lee Miller