The timeless game of cat-and-mouse goes awry when the mouse doesn't know she's being chased. It can be difficult to figure out if someone is interested in you. But pay attention to these subtle signs, and you'll find it surprisingly easy to tell a friendly grin from a serious smile.

He's seriously into you if ...

1. He shows up

A man who wants more than friendship with you will be there for you when you need him. He's a soft shoulder and a firm support. He comes when directly invited but also somehow shows up where you are when not formally asked. He's by no means stalking you, but when he miraculously keeps bumping into you in open, public spaces, be flattered and make him feel welcomed.

2. He consistently picks up your tab

This one could be a bit tricky, as most gentlemen will pick up a lady-friend's tab on occasion or even frequently. But if you find it impossible to pay for anything yourself in his presence, no matter how much you object, you likely have an admirer on your hands. He who insists on doing such favors may one day ask for one in return ... like a date!

3. He includes you

If your guy-friend invites you out to public places with lots of people, he could just be friendly and outgoing. But if a guy frequently asks you to join him solo or has you tag along on his boys' nights out when he clearly doesn't have to (and even despite some buddies' protests), he's trying hard to include you in his life. If you want to be closer, accept those invitations. If you just want to keep it casual, let him down gently. Spending lots of time with someone you don't want to be with could be sending the wrong signals. Trust me!

4. He checks on you

A girl with a male admirer won't be left alone for long. Wherever you are, you'll have eyes on you making sure you're okay. He comes to your rescue whether you're cornered in the bar by a hanger-on or you're the one trying to keep your head up at the end of the night. He could be preoccupied with his boys or other girls, but there's a sense of safety and security when he's around. And you may not even notice until it's gone one day because you couldn't read the signs.

5. He politely asks to spend time

Here's the clincher: Is it an outing or is it a date? I fear the days of a man outright asking a woman on a date may be over. But don't dismay. He'll probably hint at getting together, meeting up, coming over, going somewhere or-if he's feeling really confident-getting drinks, lunch or dinner. But this by itself doesn't mean he's into you or that accepting the invite means you're on a date. I've had many a platonic lunch and dinner "outings" with friends. What you need to watch out for is how frequent he suggests getting together and how often he asks to spend time with your girl group. A man who chooses to be around a clique of chicks is seeking approval from her friends and supporters for your potential union.

Any of these signs on its own isn't a complete guarantee a guy wants something more with you. But put them together and there's a recipe for desire brewing you won't want to miss. Men need encouragement to move from subtle signs to grand gestures, so give good feedback and show him his efforts are being seen, felt and appreciated.

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