The Art Of Flirting Online

You don't have to wait till you and your date are face-to-face to turn on the charm. Below are some tricks for email seduction.

by Julie Taylor

retty much everyone knows how to flirt when they're out at a bar or a party: You make eye contact, smile, make small talk and definitely laugh if your love interest says something the least bit funny. Meet someone online, though, and these moves don't exactly translate. "Flirting online definitely flexes different flirting muscles," says Jill Spiegel, author of The Flirtologist's Guide to Dating. "In the age of online dating, it's crucial to be able to establish rapport and build a connection without the benefit of being face to face." Not sure how to do that? Read on for some cyber-flirting specifics.

Tip #1: Use all parts of the email to your advantage
Certain parts of an email offer great flirting
Often-overlooked parts of an email offer great flirting opportunities—like the subject line, greeting and
opportunities that are often overlooked, says Spiegel. Take, for example, the subject line, an area online suitors often fill with dud openers like "Hi" or "I saw your profile." Instead try a phrase that's fun (like "Click here and who knows what'll happen?") or more personal by referencing something they said in their profile ("Harry Potter fan? Meet your match!"). Next, choose your greeting carefully. "'Dear Chris' does the job, but 'Dear Brad-Pitt-look-alike' will put a smile on his face," points out Spiegel. When signing off, skip snoozers like "See ya" and use creative signoffs like "Smittenly yours" or "'Til our next powwow about the pros and cons of spicy food" to hang onto the interest.

Tip #2: Write like you talk
"When composing an email, people tend to sound more formal than they would when they're talking," says Spiegel. "And formal, stiff language is not conducive to flirting!" So make a concerted effort to make your emails sound more conversational. Instead of typing, "On the weekends, I enjoy going to the park or attending open-air concerts if one is scheduled," express this sentiment out loud to yourself—then try writing down what you say, which might sound more like "What do I do on the weekends? Well, I live close to the park, so I go there a lot. The open-air concerts there are amazing, have you been?"

Tip #3: Express yourself with emoticons and punctuation
Emails can't automatically convey your smiles, giggles, or vocal inflections,
People tend to sound more formal in an email, so make an effort to write like you talk for a more flirtatious vibe.
but there are ways to achieve about the same effect—through punctuation and emoticons. So you really like the Black Eyed Peas, tack an exclamation point or two to the end of that statement, or type "LOVE" in caps, and your recipient will really be able to feel your enthusiasm. Ellipses (...), on the other hand, can easily add an air of mystery to statements like "I'll write more later, you won't believe the day I'm having..." since it implies you've got some juicy details to dish later. Likewise, emoticons — symbols that convey facial expressions like ":-)" if you're smiling or abbreviations like "LOL" if you're laughing — can do wonders to convey a more playful tone. But proceed with caution: Some people are all but allergic to those email catchphrases and emoticons, and even it they're not, if you overdo it, you begin looking more crazy than clever. Spiegel says a good rule is to use no more than two per email.

Tip #4: Get linked up
Sending links to funny, quirky articles with a little note explaining "Read this to have a laugh on your lunch break" or "Just a friendly reminder that the world's a weird place" is an easy way to get your flirt on. Why? Because 1) it shows you're thinking of them and know what interests them, which is always sweet, and 2) if it's good, they will laugh, and that's the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Tip #5: Tap into your sensual side
Spiegel says it's perfectly acceptable (if not downright essential) to be sexy via email, as long as you do it in the right context. "The goal is to come off sensual without sounding X-rated," she says. That means that telling your online amour that you love getting sweaty on the dance floor is fine—but telling them you want to get sweaty with them is not. "When it comes to innuendos, less is more," Spiegel says. Or, for an even subtler flirtatious vibe, try adding more sensory language to your correspondence, whether it's about the smell of the bread you're baking or the cool, prickly sensation you got walking barefoot through your backyard. Tuning into tactile or aromatic sensations can turn the most abstract conversations into something far more sensual.

Tip #6: Lay on the compliments
"Since everybody loves getting compliments, this is an awesome and effective way to flirt online," Spiegel says. To make those compliments count, be sincere and specific. "For instance, tell someone that their profile made you laugh out loud rather than just saying they have a nice profile," Spiegel advises. Even if it's your first email exchange, you can flatter someone by pointing out what drew you to their profile, like "I'm blown away that you find time to volunteer once a week at an animal shelter. You're an angel." Been emailing awhile? Tell them how excited you get when you see their message in your Inbox and trust us, it'll make them feel fabulous—which is what flirting's all about, right?

Julie Taylor writes for Redbook and other publications. She doesn't do much flirting online, but loves engaging in a little banter in crowded elevators.
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