A subtle touch here and a well-timed smile there; flirting is an art form that is learned over the years. Most people understand how powerful eye contact and laughter can be when flirting face-to-face. Those same devices can't always be utilized in the beginning stages of online dating, however. So how can you get the same playful message across when relying purely on e-mails and instant messages to flirt your way into a first date?
Keep Your Cool
The most successful online daters are those who go into the experience with a positive and relaxed attitude according to Vivian Diller, a New York City psychologist, in the Psychology Today article, "Connecting Through Online Dating." Instead of putting too much pressure on the exchanges you have online, look at it as a networking opportunity, without allowing your expectations to become too great. Talk to potential dates about who they are and what they enjoy doing for fun, seeking points of commonality that you can connect on. Save the heavier conversations about past relationships and future expectations for later on down the line.
Share the Love
Compliments can open doors and fuel connections when it comes to online dating explains Bobbi Palmer, dating and relationship coach, in the eHarmony, "Four Grownup Ways to E-Flirt with Class." Take the time to peruse your new romantic interest's profile, and then point out in those first few interactions the aspects which initially caught your attention. Let your online paramour know what you are already intrigued by, whether it is an answer to a profile question you related to, or a shared passion for a local sports team you discovered based on a profile picture that was taken at a recent game. Continue to compliment your new online friend as your conversations grow deeper, making note of the times when an e-mail has you laughing out loud or considering a subject you hadn't thought of before.
Most people are used to being more formal in writing than they would be in conversation, but online flirting means letting go of that desire and allowing your personality to shine through your words, explains popular dating site, Match.com Don’t worry about sticking to rigid rules of writing. This isn’t a professional correspondence you are engaging in, which means that it is acceptable to write like you would talk. You can even throw in an emoticon here or there to convey your mood -- just because you can't wink in person, doesn't mean you can't still accomplish the same via email!
Don’t Be Coy
Subtlety can often be lost in written communications, which is why a more direct approach tends to work online, according to Palmer. If you have an Internet crush, express that by letting your new paramour know that you would like to talk more. Playing hard to get will likely leave you talking to yourself online, so open up and don’t be afraid to let your new suitors know when they have sparked your interest. You can accomplish this by a simple sentence at the end of an email, explaining how much fun you are having getting to know each other, or via an instant message that lets your new online interest know that your recent conversation still has you smiling from ear to ear.