Not to sound like an old lady or anything, but man, is the world DIFFERENT now from when I started blogging. Back then I was a sixteen year old kid fresh off the plane, and I kept an OpenDiary. It was my way of reaching out to the world, the only way I knew of connecting with people I didn’t know personally.
Now I am ten years older and there are literally a million ways to reach out and touch somebody. I’ve had serious romantic relationships that began (and sometimes ended) online. But with all of these new ways to communicate, people still seem to have issues approaching others. At least once a day, I get an email that makes me wonder what goes on in people’s heads. Most bloggers I know have similar experiences. I mean, the internet isn’t new. Shouldn’t people know how to talk to each other?
Oh wait, it’s the internet. Silly me.
I have found that the most flagrant offenders in this Brave New World are men. Men who, if I met them in a bar, I would probably talk to. Who would know how to talk to me. But when faced with a blank email, these same men immediately begin writing things like “I love your tits” or “I really feel like we have a soulmate connection, you know? I want to marry you!” and then get offended when I don’t respond by ripping off my clothes / professing my undying love.
That is not how you approach girls. That isn’t how you approach anybody.
Gentlemen, we have some work to do. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are approaching girls on the internet, as written by A Girl On The Internet: ME.
1. Choose your words wisely.
At a bar, “Hi” is the best pickup line possible: Simple, direct, and when combined with a smile, endearing. Online, you have to do better than “Hey wutz up.” You just HAVE to.
If you’re approaching someone for the first time in a bar, odds are that you don’t know anything about her. “Hi” is therefore a safe jumping off point. Online, though, you have access to quite a bit of information right off the bat. You can find out where she went to school, her favourite music, her favourite books. If she has a blog, you can actually read some of her thoughts and feelings! And if she’s on a dating site, you also know that she’s single and looking! So given that you know all this, you have NO EXCUSE for not coming up with something better than “Hey.”
2. Don’t be a creeper.
This is the flipside of point #2: Yes, you can find out a lot about us relatively easily, but with great creeping power comes great creeping responsibility (that’s what Creeping Spider-man taught us). For example, don’t email us your disturbingly well-researched versions of our biographies. That shit doesn’t make me want to show you my boobs, it makes me want to file a restraining order.
If you’re not sure where the line between “I want to get to know you” and “I want to make a suit out of your skin” actually is, use this rule of thumb: Shit written down usually sounds about fifty times more intense than if it was spoken. This applies to everything–flirting via Twitter sounds flirtier, bitchy comments on Facebook are bitchier, ALL-CAPS ON BLOGS ARE SHOUTIER. So if you’re okay with your love sonnet to a nude tumblr girl being amplified by fifty, hit send. Otherwise, think about it.
3. “To” versus “With.”
I’m going with generalities here, but if you’re corresponding with a woman, don’t talk about doing things TO her. It makes her sound like a Fleshlight, and a male sex toy isn’t something we ladies aspire to be. At least not right off the bat.
Also, please never say anything even approaching “I wanna fuck the shit out of you.” That’s a seriously gross turn of phrase. If you’re old enough to have sex, you’re old enough to figure out something else to say.
4. You don’t know dick.
The problem with the internet is that, if ever you mention sex in a posting, you will get fanboys. Fanboys who think that if they send a photo of their dick, you’ll go wild with lust and fall upon it like a dagger.
I speak for ladies on the internet when I say no, dudes, we do not want pictures of your wang. We spend most of our time trying NOT to see the genitalia of strangers, and no matter how closely you follow our Twitter stream, you are a stranger. We know you have a dick. We know you’re very proud of it. And unless it’s green or forked or can sing, we have a pretty good idea of what it looks like and what it does.
Further applications: Don’t assume that since conversation is getting sexy, the girl you’re flirty-texting with wants to see your boner. I know that dudes jerk off to nudes that girls send; I have never once known a girl to wank to a picture of a man’s weenis. If you send one of these pictures prematurely–ie: before you’ve seen the girl naked in real life–you’ve probably blown your chances. (See what I did there? Eh?) Also, you’ll forever be known in her friend circle as “Dick pic guy” because yeah, that’s the kind of thing we’ll always talk about. Do you really want that? THINK BEFORE YOU SEND.
I mean, unless your wang really IS green or forked or can sing. Because then by all means, WARN AWAY.
5. Stop with the backhanded compliments, already.
I’ve said that dudes need to stop negging, and nowhere is this more evident than on the internet. Don’t tell me that I’m a terrible writer and then ask me out for coffee. Don’t tell me that I’ve got really pretty hair, which really distracts from the fact that I’m so much fatter than my friends (both true stories). WE KNOW WHAT THIS IS AND WE KNOW WHERE YOU LEARNED IT FROM.
THIS IS NOT THE MAN YOU WANT TO EMULATE.
6. Understand politeness.
Being polite does not equal romantic interest. Dudes: a nice response to your email doesn’t mean we’re dying to bone you. Girls: you need to make your intentions very, very clear. Sure, everyone can enjoy the free exchange of ideas though an online medium, but every email is not flirtatious in nature.
So dudes, if you ask a girl out and she declines, assume that’s her final answer. Move on and either establish a friendship or walk away completely. Girls, if a dude asks you on a date and you’re not feeling it–IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO. We cannot complain that guys can’t pick up on signals if we’re sending mixed messages in the first place. Saying no thanks doesn’t make you a bitch, it makes you assertive. Just be kind. “I’m not dating right now” is fine. “I appreciate you asking me out, but no thank you” is more direct. And if you’ve been operating under the assumption that the two of you are just friends (or if this is a repeat performance) then by all means tell him “I’m only interested in you as a friend.”
Which brings me to EVERYONE: IF THE PERSON YOU LIKE SAYS THEY ONLY WANTS TO BE FRIENDS, RESPECT IT. Nobody on the planet is romantically attracted to everyone, so no matter how cool and smart you are, sometimes it’s not going to happen. Anyway, friendship is an awesome thing in its own right, not some shitty consolation prize for “losing” the race to mash genitals with another human being.
Sometimes you will meet ladies or gentlemen who say they want to be friends, but also make out with you and manipulate you into doing things for them. Those people suck, but they are a small minority. These people probably have no same-gender friends, is what I’m saying, and you know what that means: Red flag. Take your leave before your balls are glued to your thigh.
7. Mass messages are mass-suicide.
This mostly applies to dating sites, and everyone who has ever been on one knows what I mean: “Hi! I saw your profile…WOW! You’re gorgeous! Anyway, I’m So-and-so, I live in Neighbourhood and I think we’d really hit it off. Send me a message and maybe you’ll get my number LOL. Bye, sexy!”
Way to put your shitty foot forward, Generic McDudebro. It’s very obvious that this is a verbatim icebreaker sent to every girl this guy sees, and it’s one of the worst mistakes you can make. Online dating is already kind of a murky, depersonalised medium for social contact. Why add to that with a first message that makes it seem like potential connections are interchangeable or unimportant?
The best initial messages, in my opinion, are the simple ones. “Hey! I saw on your profile that you like This Book. It’s one of my favourites. Have you read Title By The Same Author?”
8. Be yourself.
I know; trite. Let me explain: Don’t use a thesaurus when you write an email, no matter how smart you want to look; it’s inevitable you’ll use a word wrong and blow your cover, so use your normal vocabulary. Don’t lie about what you do or how much money you make (actually, don’t discuss that at all). Don’t say that you’re single if you aren’t, even if your relationship is “like 99% over.” Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or on the girl; if she doesn’t respond or you don’t get the response you wanted, it’s no big deal.
Basically, all this comes down to one thing. As an admittedly REALLY AWKWARD teenage girl, I asked my mother how to flirt. She gave me the best advice ever: Flirting is just talking. So it follows that flirting online is just writing. There’s no puzzle here, because women aren’t a code. Women are people. Men are people. Just treat them that way instead of as delicate porcelain figurines / handsome saviours / disposable jizzbuckets.
Seriously. Watch your problems HALVE.