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. Make a homemade card expressing your feelings. Edie Raether, author of Winning! How Winners Think – What Champions Do, 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 yet. That way, your date knows you’ve been paying attention to his/her tastes and preferences in passing.

3. Take care of mundane tasks he or she hates to do. “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.
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4. Get an autographed picture of someone your date admires. This can be your date’s all-time favorite movie star, author or sports figure... just avoid breaking the bank for it.

5. Simply pay attention to your date, advocates Patti Henry, author of The Emotionally Unavailable Man: A Blueprint for Healing. “Those who listen get to have deeper, more meaningful connections,” she explains. “If you show a genuine interest, others will go to a deeper level of sharing with you.”

6. Stash a cute note somewhere for your date to discover later. At your date’s place and getting ready to leave? Follow this tip from Dimitri Petrushka of Boston, MA: “I put a cute note on her pillow.”

7. Find out your date’s favorite childhood meal and fix some surprise comfort food. Who wouldn’t love such a nurturing gesture?

8. Start your date’s workday off with a loving (and unexpected) message. Terri Orbuch, Detroit’s “Love Doctor,” suggests you “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. Go the old-fashioned route by penning a love letter. “Write a love letter,” suggests Steve Peters of Issaquah, WA. “Tell your date not what you like about him or her, but how and why the things you like about your date make your life better.”

10. Get his or her car washed and detailed, then fill the tank. Sometimes, an everyday gesture like this makes a huge difference.

11. Sincerely compliment your date. 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 — yes, even to men. Not your style? Send a bouquet of balloons instead.

13. Reach out... just because you feel like it. “It’s corny, but call or email when you think about your date during the day,” notes Nancy Tarczinski of Atlanta.

14. Let your date know you are looking forward to seeing him or her again. “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. Create a book filled with happy memories of your time together. Jackie Woods, author of Soulmate or Cell-mate: A Guide to Healthy Relationships, suggests making a scrapbook of special shared times between the two of you.

16. Spend some quiet time together, lying on the couch or sitting by the fire. Not every romantic moment requires spending money (or even leaving the house).

17. Express gratitude for your date. “Every once in awhile, I just look her deep in the eyes and tell her I’m glad I found her,” relates David Herrera of Austin, TX. “It seems to do the trick.”

18. Make a small sacrifice to make your date happy. “Every so often I go bowling with a date, even though I don’t really enjoy it,” notes Pamela Angelo of Sarasota, FL. “I get a kick out of seeing him have so much fun.”

19. Make something special for your sweetie. “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, but his coworkers, too.”

20. Look your date in the eye and share your true feelings. 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 him or her. Say something like, ‘When I’m with you, I feel ___________.’ This way, he or she can’t demur or shake off the compliment.”

Using any of these tips will ensure that your date always feels honored, respected and valued. And who doesn’t love that?

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer in Carrboro, NC, whose work also appears in Go magazine and the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Article courtesy of Match.com.