Test the waters with impeccable manners. This is a good way to break the touch barrier while making her feel comfortable and appreciated at the same time, especially early on when you’re just getting to know each other.
Ask! Always ask before you touch. Body language isn’t always readable, and you may get a slap trying to get a dust-bunny out of her hair without her permission!
* If you’re both about to leave and she needs to put on a jacket or coat, hold it out for her like a gentleman so that she can slip her arms into the sleeves. Bring the jacket gently up to her shoulders. The knuckles of your fingers will probably gently brush up against her as you’re doing this. How does she respond? Does she pull away as soon as her jacket is on? Or does she linger, appreciating the gesture? If she responds positively and you notice that her hair is between her jacket and her back, pull it out for her carefully—pull the ends out without pulling the hair away from her scalp in any way. Be careful with this as many girls have procedures for taking their hair out of their coats to retain their hairstyles. If you feel it is appropriate, this could be a good time to tell her that she has beautiful hair, or that it smells wonderful. People appreciate compliments.
* Offer your hand when she might need to keep her balance, such as when she’s getting into or out of a car, or when she’s stepping over a puddle or any other uneven surface. Girls love this because it shows that you are thinking of her, not just yourself. This is more likely to be appropriate if she’s dressed nicely or wearing heels. If the situation’s more casual, go somewhere that you have to step up high (such as a ledge, or a rock). Step up first, then turn around and hold out your hand to help her come up. When you come down, go first again and hold out your hand once more, helping her step down. How does she respond when you offer your hand? Does she seem receptive? Or does she hurry to let go?
* Hold out your elbow as an invitation for her to hook her arm around yours, especially if you’re about to walk together. This is a classically romantic way to walk as a couple without being too touchy-feely.
* Ladies first. That is, allow her to go first through doors, corridors, or through friendly crowds. A nice, firm gesture would be to press with your hand just above her waist, towards the door (or corridor), while saying “after you”. Other spots to press would be the back of the arm, just above the elbow (especially recommended if the girl has her arms bare, e.g. she is wearing short sleeves), or very softly and cautiously on the shoulder.
* Lead the way if you’re about to go through a crowd. Hold out your hand so you can walk through the crowd without losing each other. This not only shows that you care about her, but it also shows that you can take the lead. Once you’re out of the crowd, you can continue holding her hand (if she seems to want to).
Look for anything that may be on her face or hair. It’s not uncommon to see a loose eyelash on someone’s face, especially the cheek area. If you see one, tell her, “Hold still; you have an eyelash on your face. Let me get it off.” Pull it off her face very gently—don’t apply too much pressure, especially if she’s wearing make-up. Some people will put an eyelash on their fingertip and make a wish before blowing it away; if you think she’s the type to enjoy this, then show her the eyelash on your finger and ask her to make a wish and blow it away. If you see something in her hair (a piece of lint, a little branch, a ball of dust), do the same: ask her to stay still, and gently pull it out (but don’t make a wish on it!).
* If you want to slyly arrange an opportunity, you could take her somewhere that you know she’ll probably get something in her hair (like a dusty attic or a part of the woods with low trees).
* With anything that’s on her face or hair that might be embarrassing (like a piece of food) you’ll need to decide whether or not to do this. Some girls will be mortified if you tell her she has a dead spider in her hair and offer to pick it off; others will find it humorous. If you’re not sure, don’t point it out. She might come home and feel embarrassed that you saw something on her face or hair that wasn’t flattering, but she can hope that you didn’t notice, or that it wasn’t there the whole time.
Notice something on her hands. Look carefully at her hands; does she have a different ring, a new cut, or a different nail color? Acknowledge it verbally (“That’s a pretty ring” or “What happened to your finger?” or “Your hand looks nice”). Hold out your hand, palm up, and ask if you can look closer. Inspect whatever is different, and ask a question or make a (positive) comment. While you’re doing all of this, get a feel for how she responds to having her hand in yours. After she has responded to your comment or question, briefly rub her hand gently and let it go. Smile and quickly move on.
Keep her warm. If it’s chilly outside and you notice that she’s cold or shivering, first offer her your coat. Put it around her. Depending on how comfortable she feels around you, you might take your hands and brush them briskly on her upper arms to generate a little heat. Don’t be too rough, though—light but fast. If you notice that her hands are cold, tell her to give you her hands and put them together (palm to palm). Put your hands around hers and rub them so softly but quickly to warm hers up. If you’re feeling daring, bring her hands up to your mouth and blow a little warm air on them. (Don’t do this if there’s any risk that your breath is bad!)
Take things up a notch. If she responded positively to all of the above, make your next move (or risk forever being trapped in the “friend” zone). That could be putting your arm around her shoulder or waist, or holding her hand. The back of the neck and the small of the back are two sensitive areas too.
Avoid the risky behavior. There are certain ways you can touch a girl that are more likely to make her feel uncomfortable, and shouldn’t be attempted until you know her quite well and can read her body language.
* Massages — Don’t approach a girl and give her a shoulder massage, even if she complains about being sore or tired. It’s not necessarily an invitation to get massaged by you. In some cases, it might be, but don’t risk it unless you’re confident that you’re reading her correctly. It can make a girl very uncomfortable to be receiving a massage from someone she doesn’t fancy, and you’re putting her in a position where she has to ask you to stop, which is awkward.
* Grabbing her arm — Don’t grab any part of her arm with your hand and pull her to come somewhere with you. At best, this can be interpreted as annoying, and at worst, it can come off as an attempt to yank her around. Generally, any kind of pulling or tugging might be interpreted as immature or pushy.
* Touching the chest, pelvic (hips), and upper leg regions — These are usually only acceptable if you are already romantically involved, as these are generally considered sexual areas. An exception to the aforementioned pelvic rule is when dancing, though even then, only place your hands at the sides slightly above the pelvic area, and don’t grope or squeeze.