For the past few years, thanks to loads of books about pick-up artists, reality dating shows and the like, women everywhere have been duly warned of all the ways men might try to wiggle free from getting into relationships without ever really saying so. Many single ladies owe their sanity to books like He’s Just Not That Into You, which taught them to stop wondering why someone didn’t call and just accept the truth: that it simply wasn’t meant to be. Still, amidst all these downplayed expectations, we wondered: Don’t women also want to know when men actually are in hot pursuit? To that end, we’ve interrogated a small army of men (and some savvy women) to uncover some telltale signs that show he actually is that into you — whether you’ve just met each other for the first time or have been dating casually for awhile. Read on for the good news...

Sign #1: He can’t relax when you’re around
Keith Duncan, 31, wasn’t exactly excited to tell us this, but admits that “there always seems to be a bit more pressure on me when I’m talking to a woman I really like. The room gets warm, I don’t feel as humorous as I usually am, and I keep hearing in my head: ‘Don’t screw this up.’” And that can only mean one thing: He’s trying his darndest to impress you.
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Sign #2: He connects the dots
If a man remembers or refererences some things that you said earlier in your conversation or at the time when you two first met, it shows that he’s been paying attention. And since this is not generally one of our stronger traits, it really does mean something in this context.

Sign #3: His focus is on you and nobody else in the room
If a man is looking to just pick you up for a fling, he’ll never fully commit his attention to you; he’ll always be looking for his Plan B, constantly scanning the scene for a potential upgrade. So if his eyes are wandering around the restaurant or at the party, beware! But if he stays put and is devoted to you instead, relax... it’s all good. Johnny McDonnell, 30, admits that “there are times when I know my buddies will give me a hard time because I’ve spent the entire night talking to the same woman, but if I like her, I really don’t care what they think.”

Sign #4: He sneaks the word “we” in somewhere during your conversation
If the guy in question throws out the word “we” a lot instead of speaking exclusively in terms of “I” and “you” while you’re chatting, this a great sign of genuine interest. He’s trying in his own subtle way to see if he can put the two of you together without anyone noticing. Dating coach David Wygant agrees that “pronouns are the most important thing,” adding that “if he says something like, ‘You know, we should go ice skating sometime,’ he’s fishing to see if you’ll bite.” In other words, he hopes you’ll like the sound of it and agree to accompany him without actually asking you out to spare himself the shame of being turned down.

Sign #5: He leads you on — in a good way
If a man casually asks, “Have you heard about such-and-such restaurant?” or declares, “I’ve gotta go see that movie,” in courtroom terms, this is called “leading the witness” — and he’s throwing it out there hoping you’ll tack on a “yeah, me too!” reply at the end. So pay attention, ladies: This is our brilliant way of getting around directly asking you out and exposing ourselves to the crushing blow of rejection. After all, it hurts — and we’d rather put out feelers first whenever possible. So if you get the feeling he’s fishing to gauge your interest about something, that’s a good sign he’d like to see you again.

Sign #6: He’s happy to be somewhere that’s normally not where he would go on his own
Even better, the reason he’s happy to be there is because he’s with you. Seth Reimer, 30, tells us, “I can remember going to a club that I would never want to set foot in solely because I knew that a particular woman — who is now my wife — would also be there. The place was awful, but she made me want to go there every night until I could get her to go out with me on a date. The rest is history.”

Sign #7: He makes an effort to curry favor with your friends
According to Jared Piccolo, 28, when it comes to winning over a woman, “the friends are the gatekeepers,” he asserts. “If you don’t get past them, well, you’re out.” If the man you’re interested in is doing more than the bare minimum of making polite small talk and really trying to bond with your friends, then he’s trying to fit into your life on a larger scale — and that’s definitely a good sign.

Sign #8: He eagerly brings you into his own inner circle
We men can easily keep our dating lives separate from our regular day-to-day routines. In fact, we often prefer to keep these two worlds apart for practical reasons. However, the women we really like tend to quickly meet our buddies, see our favorite hangouts and meet our coworkers. Tim, 45, admits that when he was single, he kept any dates he wasn’t interested in seeing long-term far away from his regular circle of friends. “It made things clear, distinct and free of complications when it ended,” explains Tim. If a man’s introducing you to his pals and favorite neighborhood spots, on the other hand, congratulations — you’re getting woven into the fabric of his life.

Michael and Tim Burke are brothers and the coauthors of Die Happy: 499 Things Every Guy’s Gotta Do While He Still Can.