If you can’t stop thinking about a person even after you’ve parted ways, it may be a sign that your interest in them is more than friendly. For instance, maybe you can’t get out of your mind your friend’s sister who you just met at a group outing, or you find yourself wishing you could spend more than just the five minutes talking to your barista at the register of your favorite coffee shop.

In deciding whether to take things to the next level, dating coach Kevin Carr says there are cues you can look for. “When you attempt to engage in conversation, does the person you’re interested in match your energy, or do they reply with one-word answers to keep the conversation short and simple? You want to look for reciprocity here. If the interest you’re showing isn’t reflected back in your direction, you may want to take that as a sign to not try to advance the relationship.” 

To pick up on these cues, clinical psychologist Jaime Zuckerman, PsyD, suggests starting with casual conversation. Don’t “cold call” the request. Chat about the weather or a good movie you just watched. Once you’ve established mutual comfort, branch out into other topics to help you deepen the connection and open up to each other.

The good thing about developing romantic feelings for someone with whom you’re already familiar is that you have a head start on building a rapport. Use that common ground as a foundation for nurturing the relationship, she suggests. “Being familiar with them usually means you already have some background information. Expand on this in conversation. For example, if it’s someone at your gym, it would be an easy conversation starter to discuss something or ask a question that’s health and fitness related.”

Regardless of the scenario, these conversations will help you gauge the other person’s interest (and your own!) before asking someone out. (Here are some signs of attraction if you’re still unsure.)

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