So How do you Play the email Flirting Game?

Posted by: | Posted on: February 8, 2018

Everyone knows the basics of flirting in person. Even next door’s cat knows. Plenty of eye contact, a regular purr of agreement, a bit of touching… though physically wrapping yourself round your date’s leg and rubbing half your hair onto his jeans may be taking it a little too far.

Online dating has moved much of that initial contact away from the physical and into the world of words. With no eye contact, body language, facial expression or tone of voice to go by, judging your flirt strategy – and knowing whether they’re flirting with you – is infinitely more challenging.



So how do you play the email flirting game? Stick to these 10 rules and you won’t go far wrong.

Short is sweet

Long love letters are a staple of romantic fiction, the key word here being “fiction”. If they still have their place in the real world, they certainly don’t belong in that part of it that involves flirting with someone you’ve just met online. Spewing out 10,000 lovelorn words is a surefire way to sound like you’ve got nothing better to do all day (see also: needy, babbly, boring, hard work).

Keep it short and light.

As a rule of thumb, don’t send a flirtatious email that’s longer than your email text box. If they have to scroll down to read any part of it, it’s too long.

Make it all about them

If this is your first email to someone after reading their online personal ad, pick out a couple of things in their ad (not the photos) that caught your eye and ask specific questions about them.

Be original

Try to ask something they’ve not been asked 100 times before. If they mentioned that they can play the ukulele, ask which tune they wish they could play as a party piece. If they love travelling, ask which city took them most by surprise – because everyone else will ask which place they liked the best. Make it all about them, and they’ll be more likely to respond. They can find out about you by reading your ad and asking you questions in return.

Make ‘em laugh

When asking questions and referring to points in their ad or previous emails, be witty and light-hearted. The point is to paint a picture of what you’re like as a person, and everyone likes someone who’s fun to be around. Don’t overdo it, though – no-one wants to have a drink with a demented giggler who only talks in one-liners.

Pay specific compliments

Compliments are good, but they only really hit home if they’re specific. “You sound great” doesn’t stick in the mind and it won’t by itself inspire a reply. “Your music collection sounds amazing, I’d love to go rummaging for second-hand records with you” is specific, flattering and suggests something you could do together. Vague leering about your recipient’s photos (“You’re really hot” and suchlike) is the online dating equivalent of a building site wolf whistle. Passingly good for a fragile ego, but insincere and unlikely to lead to a date.Reply step by step
When you reply, quote something they’ve said (precede those lines with a “>” mark) to show that you’re responding to what they’ve said. It may seem overly formal, but it actually works very well because it shows that you cared about what they said. It’s also very easy to read.

Leave the ex out of it

Don’t spill your life story into that text box. This isn’t a blog or diary. Even several emails in, too much information will kill the mystique – and, with it, your chances of getting another date or even of meeting at all. If they ask you about your ex, reply briefly and with as little detail as possible. Anything else will just make you seem bitter and needy, and will make your email recipient feel uncomfortable.

Send photos

You want to see more photos of them? Offer some snaps of yourself first. If you have some photos on an online album, give them the link – just make sure the album isn’t littered with pics of you and the ex canoodling on the beach.

Check before you send

It’s not control-freaky to worry about spelling and grammar in a flirtatious email, it’s just good manners. Knocking off a message full of bad spelling, lower-case letters and zero punctuation is slovenly and rude; you might as well turn up to a date picking your nose. Typing fast is no excuse, especially when you’re flirting. Read and check before you hit send.

Know when to stop

If you’re still emailing each other after a couple of weeks but you’ve made no moves to meet up, you’re wasting each other’s time. Of course if you live miles apart it may not be practical to meet quickly, but if you’re in the same city there’s no reason to let the email flirtation drag on beyond a few days. You may feel there’s a “connection”, but with every exchange you’re increasing your chances of being disappointed in person. After three email exchanges, if neither of you has mentioned that you’d like to meet up, move on.

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