How To Talk To People Online

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Communicating with people online is different from face to face social interactions. For people who are accustomed to connecting through social media it may come naturally, but other people may need some pointers.

When you begin communicating with someone online all you’re trying to discover is whether the person you’re speaking to is genuine and whether there’s enough of a connection between you to want to take it further. You don’t need to quiz them on every part of their life– meeting them face to face will reveal far more than emails ever can. Think of the online communication process as an introduction – not everyone you’re introduced to will interest you but hopefully some will. Knowing how to get the conversation started online is often one of the hardest parts of the process so here are some suggestions.

Common ground

This is how we connect with anyone, online or in other social interactions, we find common ground. The one thing you have in common straight away is the fact you’re both trying online dating. Asking a match about their experiences of using the site is a safe topic to begin with because it doesn’t reveal personal information but helps to show whether a rapport will develop between you.

Good conversation occurs when the length and style of communication is reciprocal. For example, if your emails are long and chatty but you get monosyllabic replies it’s unlikely that the connection will progress. Look for someone who seems open and forthcoming about their experiences and who shows that they read, and take notice of, what you tell them.

Exploring profile subjects

The online profile is like a shop window – the bits of someone’s life that they’re happy to share publicly. These are just the headlines though and there will be a lot more to someone than what’s written there. Asking someone to elaborate on things included in their profile will help you discern whether they’re genuine and also find out whether you have common interests.

When you’re inquiring about subjects raised by their profile you could ask them what it was about your profile that caught their interest. Often a conversation of this kind will lead to you each saying what you like about the other.  It’s important to know whether the person is comfortable giving and receiving compliments because if they aren’t it may mean that they are not ready for an intimate relationship.

How they spend their time now

Many people have interesting anecdotes about their past but what you really need to know is what they are like now. The past helps to shape who we become but it’s how someone lives in the present that will inform whether or not you want to get to know them better.

Ask about how they spend their free time, what their ideal Sunday morning looks like, whether they have any holiday plans etc. You don’t have to share all their interests but you do need to have lifestyles that could be compatible.

Meeting up

It’s best to move from online to face to face communication as quickly as possible once you both feel comfortable with the idea. You’ll find out more about your match from a face to face meeting than you could ever have learnt just through messages, emails and texts.

If they live locally you could suggest a quick coffee date. Meeting during the day, in a public place is a bit like a pre-date – a chance to see each other and decide if you would like to go on a real date. If your match declines, makes excuses, or seems to have difficulty committing, then don’t pressure them. Ask them to let you know when they’re free, leaving the ball in their court to organise something if they’re interested.

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