How to Flirt Online (day 16)

We are officially over half way through our 31 Days to Better Game series. Last week Christian Hudson provided us with an excellent article on how to flirt. Since yesterday’s article was all about building a profile and making use of social networking and dating sites.. today I thought we would give you a lesson on how to be successful on them.

Honey Smith from Honey and Lance has provided us with a lesson on flirting online. Honey is finishing her PhD in rhetoric, which means she knows the difference between fluff and substance, and when to use each.? She just moved in with her boyfriend of two years, who she met after over four years of dating online.

day 16

Tips for Flirting Online by Honey

Flirting consists of a variety of tactics, both physical and verbal, that can be used in almost any situation. We flirt for a variety of purposes–from screening for a long-term partner, to scoring a one-night stand, to simply being social. The vast majority of our flirting techniques were developed for situations in which people were connecting face-to-face. However, in today’s increasingly technological world, flirting online has gone from a geeks- or losers-only pastime to a necessary skill.

There are three main types of online flirting:

  1. Pre-emptive flirting: creating a great profile.
  2. Early-stages flirting: the first few e-mails and/or texts.
  3. Later-stages flirting: keeping the momentum.

Creating a Great Profile

Whether you have a subscription to an online dating service or not, odds are that you have a profile on some kind of social networking site. Because people are becoming increasingly accessible online (you can find out far more about far more people in a day via their profiles than you could in person), it’s important that you have a great profile. To have a great profile, you need to (1) come up in as many searches as possible, and (2) deliver the goods once someone clicks on your profile.

As far as coming up in random searches, it’s important to understand how search engines work. Most searches that you will run are “keyword” searches (though many online dating services let you set all types of parameters via advanced search forms). Verbs don’t usually fare too well in keyword searches because there are so many conjugations (run, ran, running. If you are the one searching, to run a successful search you are better off putting in a noun: runner.

When you are creating your own profile, you can easily increase the likelihood of coming up in other people’s searches by using synonyms. For example, if you like to run, you might also put jogger or marathon in your profile. This is especially important because no matter which of the three terms someone searches for, you’ll come up. If you’re running a search and come up empty the first time, you could try some synonyms as well, to catch people you might have missed.

Once someone gets to your profile, the most important thing is specificity. List specifics. Tell stories. And don’t be afraid to ask questions?a nice rhetorical question gets the other person thinking about how they’d answer, and once they have an answer in their head, they’re halfway to e-mailing you! There’s a huge difference between the following:

  • “I like to hang out with friends, have fun, and watch movies.”
  • “On any given Tuesday, you can find me at BJ’s brewery with friends, sipping on a Jeremiah Red and talking about how Robert Downey Jr.’s performance saved Iron Man. When I told my buddy that I thought The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor stood a chance of being decent, he almost spit his beer out! What a waste of a great porter. How about you and I go see it and then tell my friend how wrong he was about Jet Li?”

Now the first thing you’ll probably notice is that the second example is much longer. Well, that’s no accident. While you don’t want to go on and on, the two big keys to a great profile are making sure your profile is upbeat (no one wants to date a bummer) and saying something of substance. For heaven’s sake, if the online world is like a giant bar, then how can you come off as a person of value if you don’t have anything to offer beyond clichs?

The First Few E-mails

Unsurprisingly, my advice about the first few e-mails (or online chats, if you’re into that?I’m not, for reasons I’ll explain) is pretty similar to my advice about profiles. List specifics. Tell stories. Ask questions.

However, one caveat is never, ever, “wink” at someone, or “poke” them, or any of that gay sh#t. Man up and give the lady (or fella) some real communication. For anyone who’s been on these types of sites for any amount of time at all, these half-ass forms of communication are reviled and make you seem wussy (which, if you’re too chicken to make a real first move, you kinda are).

Now, in a seemingly contradictory move, if someone winks at you and you at all like their profile, you should definitely respond back with an e-mail. You know they’re interested, so half your work is already done for you! You can tease them about using a wink at some point later on 😉

The formula for a great early e-mail is pretty simple:

  • If they e-mailed or winked at you first, thank them for doing so.
  • Say something specific that you liked about their profile, and word it as a compliment (“I couldn’t help but be excited when I noticed that you are an animal lover”).
  • Tell a story from your own experience that relates to what you liked about their profile (“I’ve never been a dog person, but last summer I found an abandoned Jack Russell in the parking lot of my complex. I looked for his owners, but never found them. Now a year later he’s there to greet me when I get home from work!”).
  • As a question that escalates the interaction to the next level, i.e. a phone call or a meeting, and also starts to build a non-threatening sexual vibe (“Maybe we should meet up at the dog park Saturday afternoon? I promise, only one of us bites.

I’m not a believer in asking for the digits but rather proposing the meetup. The reason for this is that the other person will then offer their digits without you having to weaken your position at all by asking!

I met my BF on myspace, and our first couple of interactions followed the pattern above. I sent him a one-line e-mail, and he e-mailed me back to say that we had a favorite author in common. After a couple exchanges he tried to add me as a friend and couldn’t because he didn’t know my last name. When he e-mailed to ask, I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t add people that I haven’t met in person.” He said, “How about beer on Friday?” And that was our first date

The reason that I’m going to come out against online chat is that (and I know this is a personal pet peeve) I hate all that misspelling and “textspeak.” Type real words, damnit! And since I type about 70 wpm and hardly anyone else does, it’s pretty tough for me to come off as anything except overly chatty.

I like e-mail because you can control the length and content as well as proofread for spelling and other errors before you hit “send.” It’s just much easier to put your best foot forward when you use e-mail as your medium. If they suggest chatting, go for it?just remember the possible cons.

Keeping the Momentum

Once you’ve met in person, a flirty e-mail is a great tool to keep in touch, sustain momentum, and keep your interactions light and fun. The big tips:

Again, use real words, spell everything correctly, and make sure you’re not e-mailing a work account.

  • Keep your e-mails brief and stick to one topic; you should be teasing her with the promise of your presence, not overwhelming her with super-long e-mails (which also kind of make you look like a loser who has nothing better to do in your spare time).
  • Don’t send more than two e-mails per day, and don’t you dare send that second e-mail until you hear back from her first. Again, the goal is to sustain momentum, not to come across as desperate or stalker-ish.
  • Keep it light! You should be making deep connections in person?trying to do so over e-mail just makes you a bummer, since so much nuance, tone, and body language is lost when it’s just a window on someone’s computer screen. Tease, make a mild sexual comment, or just say how much you’re looking forward to your next meetup.

Flirting is an art, and the keys are paying attention to the other person, avoiding clichs at all costs, and knowing when enough’s enough. Best of luck!

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About Bobby Rio I'm Bobby Rio, one of the founders of TSB. I tend to write about what is on my mind so you'll find a mix of self development, social dynamics and dating articles/experiences.  For a collection of some of my favorite articles check them out.

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