1. Tell him a secret. Confess an unpopular opinion or reveal something about your past that you wouldn’t share with just anyone. By unveiling one of your innermost layers to describe a formative experience or a private thought, however shocking, unpleasant, or unremarkable, you will demonstrate trust. Trust, when reciprocated, breeds closeness. If you can muster the courage to lead the way in establishing mutual trust, you will also lay the groundwork for a strong relationship.
2. Let yourself be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to cry during a sad movie, to admit when you’ve had a terrible day, or to state that you’re in a crummy mood for no apparent reason. There’s beauty in every single human emotion, and in those brave enough to let themselves feel things in front of another person.
3. Encourage him to be vulnerable. Ask him questions about how he feels and what he really thinks. Transcend the typical mundane dialogue while reserving judgment no matter what he says. Don’t be afraid to pry, every so gently, into his mind and heart—to connect on a deeper and deeper level. Soon enough, you’ll be his go-to confidante.
4. Get weird. Don’t hide beyond formalities or conventional wisdom surrounding “good behavior” when hanging out. Instead, be your weirdest self. Break out into dance spontaneously, sing a bizarre song you make up on the spot, or explain the logic beyond your strangest fixation, hobby, or habit. Any man worth your time will be wowed by your individuality and self-confidence rather than intimidated by it.
5. Urge him to get weird. Create an environment in which he feels free to let loose by radiating warmth and openness (and, of course, by being weird yourself). The weirder he gets in your presence, the less pressure he’ll feel to keep up any macho appearances when you’re around, and the more grateful he’ll be for finding a woman who respects and appreciates the true him.
6. Make him laugh. Tell a dumb joke or make a fool of yourself. Do whatever it takes! Laughter is the root of good memories. It also tends to make people feel better instantaneously. Getting a man to crack up regularly is a powerful way to instill in him that you’re a key ingredient in Life’s recipe for happiness.
7. Cross an item off his To Do list. We all keep running lists of the irksome tasks we have to accomplish outside of school or work to function in the adult world. Sometimes, tackling a household chore or running an annoying errand is the best gift you can give a person. Nothing says “I love you” like relieving someone of a nagging to-do by picking up their dry-cleaning or unloading the dishwasher so they don’t have to.
8. Cook for him. Because the old adage about winning a man over through his stomach is kind of true, and also because cooking can be extremely intimate. To cook for someone is to cater to one of their most basic human needs. It requires hard work and careful thought. And if you curate the menu carefully, you can prove just how willing you are to place their personal tastes above your own.
9. Make room for his friends. It’s important to get to know your significant other’s friends since they represent a solid portion of who he is. Ask about the people you know he holds dearest, and suggest group get-togethers so you can win his buddies over by impressing them with your awesomeness. It’s always helpful to have a man’s squad on your side.
10. Make space for his family, too. It’s important to be polite to your boyfriend’s parents and siblings, but there’s so much more to do. Take it upon yourself to write his family members’ birthdays down so you can wish them well and remind him to do the same. Help him figure out what to do when they come to town. Remind him to send thank you notes when relevant. The more positive an influence you have on a man in the eyes of his relatives, the more likely they are to support your coupledom.
11. Give him a present for no particular reason. A gift given randomly is more special than one received on any holiday or birthday. When you present someone a token of your love and appreciation for no specific reason, the gesture translates as pure kindness. It says that you care every single day and not just on special occasions. Plus, everyone responds well to a pleasant surprise.
12. Change his mind about something. We all have opinions about music and movies and politics. If you can make a man appreciate a certain band he’s hesitant to listen to or enjoy a movie or TV program he’s skeptical about or consider a social issue from a different perspective, you will make a lasting impression. He’s bound to associate you with his new line of thinking, and to admire you for steering him down a path he wouldn’t have found without you.