July 30, 2014 at 2:59 PM ET
Is it manipulative or smart strategy?
Some people will read this and think what I'm suggesting is wrong. I admit it's about manipulating and meddling with people's emotions. Most particularly, people you wish to God would meddle with you. In an ideal world, I'd agree. It would be preferable if everyone you wanted just fell in your lap, without having to play games. Unfortunately, real life doesn't always work that way. Sometimes you can spend six months living, breathing, dripping, drooling, loving and lusting after someone with zero result. When that happens the techniques that follow suddenly seem like a gift from heaven. Besides, it's not like I'm proposing black magic or suggesting any of these techniques will force someone to fall in love with you against their will. (If they did, I'd currently be shacked up with Brad Pitt.) What they will do, though, is nudge the odds a lot higher in your favor. Is that really so bad? I don't think so. Go on, keep reading. You know you want to...
Hang around a lot... but then be unavailable
The more you interact positively with someone, the more they'll like you, says David Lieberman, an expert in human behavior. And several studies back him up—showing repeated exposure to practically any stimulus makes us like it more (as long as our initial reaction wasn't negative). So forget about being aloof, evasive and unavailable in the beginning. Instead, find excuses to spend time with him. Now, pay attention, because this is the tricky part. Just when you're convinced you've won him over and he likes you, start being a little less available. And then even less, until he hardly sees you at all. You've now effectively instigated the "law of scarcity." We all know this one: People want what they can't have. By constantly being available, you diminish your value. If every time you walked outside your front door there was a huge pile of diamonds to step over, you'd hardly see them as precious would you? Be around and then not around for awhile and you'll give him time to think about how much he likes and wants you.
Don't do nice things for them—let them do nice things for you
If you do something nice for someone, it makes you feel good on two levels: You feel pleased with yourself and extra-warm toward the person you've just spoiled. The end result is we like the person more. When someone does something nice for us, we're pleased. But there are a whole lot of other emotions that come into play—and they're not all good. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed. There's pressure to live up to being the wonderful person who inspired such a gift/act, not to mention pressure to return the favor. It's even trickier if the "nice thing" comes from someone you like, but aren't entirely sure about just yet. Got the point? When we're infatuated with someone, we're desperate to do nice things for him, but you're much better off letting him spoil you.
Give them the eye
In an effort to measure love scientifically, Harvard psychologist Zick Rubin began recording the amount of time lovers spent staring at each other. He discovered that couples who are deeply in love look at each other 75 percent of the time when talking and are slower to look away when someone else intrudes. (In normal conversation, people look at each other between 30-60 percent of the time.) The significance of what's now known as Rubin's Scale: It's possible to tell how "in love" people are by measuring the amount of time they spend gazing adoringly at one another. Look at someone 75 percent of the time when they're talking to you, and you may be able to trick their brain. Why? The brain knows the last time that someone looked at them for that long and often, it meant they were in love. So it thinks okay, I'm obviously in love with this person as well, and starts to release phenylethylamine (PEA), a chemical cousin to amphetamines secreted by the nervous system when we first fall in love. It’s what makes our palms sweat, our tummies flip over and our hearts race.
Don't look away
There was another crucial finding from Rubin's research: Couples took longer to look away when someone else joined the conversation. Again, if you do this to someone who's not in love with you (yet), you trick his brain into thinking he is, and even more PEA floods into his bloodstream. Relationships expert Leil Lownes calls this technique making "toffee eyes." Simply lock eyes with the person you like and keep them there, even when he has finished talking or someone else joins the conversation. When you eventually do drag your eyes away (three or four seconds later), do it slowly and reluctantly—as though they're attached by warm toffee. This technique may not sound terribly inspired but, believe me, if done properly it can literally take your breath away. If you're too shy to gaze openly, skip the toffee and think bouncing ball. Look away and at the other person who's joined the conversation, but every time they finish a sentence, let your eyes bounce back to the person you're interested in. This is a checking in gesture—you're checking his reaction to what the speaker is saying—and it lets him know you're more interested in him than the other person.
We all know "bedroom eyes" when we see them. But what makes that look of lust so appealing? According to pupillometrics, the science of pupil study, big pupils are the crucial element we respond to. You can't consciously control them, but you can create the right conditions to make your pupils bigger. First, reduce light. Our pupils expand when they're robbed of it—one reason why candlelight and dimmer switches are de rigueur in romantic restaurants. It's not just the softer light that makes our faces appear more attractive, larger pupils also help. In a University of Chicago study, researchers showed two sets of pictures of a woman's face to a group of men. The photographs were identical, except for one thing: The pupils in one were doctored to make them look larger. When shown the doctored photograph, men judged the same woman twice as attractive. There were similar results when sets of photos of a man's face was shown to women. Our pupils also enlarge when we look at something we like. So if you're really attracted to someone, your pupils are probably already big, black holes. But if you want to ensure it's happening, focus on one of the person's attributes you like most.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.