How To Meet People OnlinebyEmeliaBell©
Although young, I have to admit that I have met quite a large number of people online. Most of them are friends, but a couple turned into something a little more intimate and I've been dating one of them for nearly two years now – next month we're moving in together!
Now this is not a guide for anyone who's already met people from the internet. I doubt I have anything stunningly new to point out to someone who's already a seasoned cyber-chatter, but for the beginner who's only just discovered the wonderful world of online communities and friendships this should give you an idea of some of the places there are, how you can get chatting, how and when to develop the relationship and meeting up in person.
Firstly let's have a look at the various ways of meeting people.
1- The online forum.
This is a good way to start off and you've already found a website where you can start off, as Literotica has an excellent forum where you can chat with others about writing and all things erotic.
The basic idea of a forum is a community based on a common hobby, belief or interest. Whatever you're into, there's probably a forum out there for you. This is one of the main benefits of a forum – you've already got one thing in common with everyone on there. What a great place to start.
Secondly there's the fact that it's very flexible and totally anonymous. You generally have to register with the site, but you can create an online alter-ego and there's no need for a photograph or any identifying element.
Forums work by having a series of topics (ie- on a cookery site, appetisers, starters, main courses etc) and each of these contains individual conversations or 'threads' started by one of the members (ie- 'anyone know how long to cook a whole chicken?')
Other members can then reply to this thread with their ideas and opinions and there's no time constraint on replying – no-one will get cross if you don't reply immediately.
Forums offer you a chance to talk to a huge number of people about a huge number of things with no pressure. If you want to talk more to someone then you can send them a private message.
2- The mailing list
This has a similar community feel as a forum, but instead of you going to the website to talk, the talk comes to you.
Again mailing lists are based on a common hobby etc, and different topics are divided up by having different e-mail topics.
There are various places where you can sign up for a mailing list, yahoo has one of the most popular (www.yahoogroups.com) with a huge variety of categories. Once you are signed up you will start getting e-mails from the list, for instance if the list you signed up to was called rockmusicuk then that's the sender who will appear in the list of e-mails.
If you reply to this e-mail then that will be sent out to everybody on the list, including you. If you want to start a new topic, then instead of replying to previous e-mails, you simply send a new e-mail to the list's e-mail address.
With me so far?
The downside of this is that your e-mail address will be displayed to those on the list, but if you want to retain your anonymity for the time-being, just set up a new account with a free e-mail server, like hotmail or googlemail.
3- Dating or Friendship Websites
Right, now we come to the crux of the matter.
I've met people through both the other methods, but this is where the mice are divided from the men.
Many of these websites charge you a small amount in order to join, but there are several very good free ones which I'd recommend for a beginner. I've been using such sites for seven years and I still only use the free ones, so don't dismiss them as a long-term solution.
Right, now the hows, whys and wherefores.
Dating sites rely on each member creating an individual profile and then browsing other profiles to find someone they want to talk to. This has several obvious up and down –sides.
The ups first.
Obviously you've tailored your profile so it gives a much clearer picture of you and so has everyone else. This means that you're basing any friendship (or more) on a larger number of things than just the one hobby in common. There's also the distinct bonus that everyone on there is actively looking to meet new friends or lovers.
These are fairly obvious. Your anonymity is compromised somewhat. I'll get to the specifics of creating a good profile later, but most of them will include at least one picture and that means you can be recognised. Be aware of this. Sod's law (aka Murphy's law) dictates that there's a distinct possibility someone you know will happen across your profile and then you'll be busted. Are you prepared to be outed?
Another downside – you will get messages from freaks and weirdos and foreigners wanting to marry you to get residence in your country. Delete and ignore.
Creating a Profile
Do include a photograph. You may get some messages, but seriously, with a photograph you will probably increase interest by about 10 times.
Rules for photographs.
a) think carefully about what you are looking for. If all you want is sex then a naked/erotic/underwear photograph is obviously the most appropriate. If you want a friend, include photos of you doing the things you love – dancing, skiing, whatever. If you want a partner/lover then include photos of you doing things you love, but also some showing you how you are in downtime – relaxing with a book or by the sea, cuddling a dog, whatever you think is appealing really.
b) Don't include any identifying information. Check carefully for streetnames if it's taken near your home, addressed envelopes, car registration plates, university name/logo, workplace or full name.
c) Do include more than one picture. This gives a much clearer picture of how you look. It's all very well including flattering photos, but do you really want to meet someone in person and have them go 'Ugh!'? Be honest right from the start and you won't get hurt by rejection later.
Rules for personal information.
a) If you use your real name, make sure it's first name only.
b) Be reasonably general about your location. Give the name of the nearest large town, for example, rather than the tiny place of about 2,000 inhabitants where you really live.
c) Be very specific about what you DO and DON'T want. If smoking is a no-no then say so right now. If you're only looking for friends, make it clear and if you're bisexual and only want to meet one gender, then let them know.
d) Do not lie or be vague about important stuff. This includes: children, drugs, smoking, drinking, religion, current marital status, weight and, for some, dietary requirements (such as allergies or veganism). This is not a definitive list, but use your common sense – is there something about you that you or other people feel strongly about? Mention it.
e) Most profiles include a section for some personal notes where you can write a bit about yourself that might not be included in the set questions. This is your chance to make a mark and display your sense of humour and personality. Do be original, do be funny and try to avoid any contentious statements. Here might also be the place to list any specific requirements you have, such as a man who likes cats or a girl who is educated to at least degree level.
f) Personal description: follow the above rules. Be honest. If you're a size 16 then say so – then at least only people who like bigger girls will contact you.
Sending a private message
The initial message is pretty important. Like the personal statement section, this is your chance to display your personality and make an impression. Keep it light, mention something they said which amused or interested you. Make it clear why you messaged them – did you just want to chat, are you bored, are you looking for a friend or a lover or did you want to talk dirty? Don't sound too desperate, don't be too 'wacky', it'll just freak them out if they don't know you and keep it short.
Here's an example of the kind of thing that should elicit a response...
Hey! Just saw your profile and was really interested to see that you liked Douglas Adams – that guy is a genius! Anyways, I'm just hanging around, insomnia is a killer, message me back if you want to chat. So long and thanks for all the fish Vermilion
If you follow all this then hopefully you should meet some people you have things in common with and be able to bulk out your instant messenger list a bit!
Of course, now you've met someone it's not the end; there's still a lot of work to do before you become proper friends and especially before you meet them in person, but that's a story for another day. Watch this space...