From sexy texts to dating?
February 7, 2008 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Flirting online and via text message... how do you translate that energy to real life?

So, I reconnected with an old classmate recently via myspace. This was around the Christmas holidays, when I was in the office by myself, and had a lot of time to kill. He and I began chatting quite a lot. As dorky as it all sounds, I actually started looking forward to logging on every day just so we could keep talking.

We exchanged phone numbers and tried to get together a couple of times, but I got sick, he went out of town, stuff kept coming up. Anyway, we continued communicating via e-mail and text message (not so much actual talking) and somewhere along the way, the exchanges went from friendly/funny to funny/flirty to flirty/sexy. Not porno sexy, but enough to get some feelings stirred...

A little background: We went to high school together but didn't really know each other then. I have seen him once in the eight years since I graduated... and that was about a year ago, at a funeral. I remember him as attractive but not someone who would immediately catch my eye. The kind of person who goes from "kind of attractive" to "insanely hot" when you get to know them.

I guess what I'm nervous about is, now we are talking about getting together again, and I'm afraid the "chemistry" we've had thus far won't translate easily into real life. Like, should our real-life conversations pick up at the level of our online conversations? I don't know if I should be looking at this as a "date" or just a friend thing, although it's not like we were friends before. My feelings for him are more "date" than "friend" at this point, and I hope it's mutual, and that there's mutual physical attraction as well.

It's not really any different than a first meeting with someone you connected with via an online dating site, I suppose, although I've never done that either. However, I imagine some of you out there have. Any insight?
posted by Ruby Doomsday to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I guess what I'm nervous about is, now we are talking about getting together again, and I'm afraid the "chemistry" we've had thus far won't translate easily into real life.

It might not, and unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about that. Managing this expectation will help soften the blow if things go wrong. When you do meet up in person, I would treat it like any other date. There's always some history with someone you go out with (unless you start dates with random strangers in public on the spot), and your past conversations with this guy will probably bleed into your conversations - don't ignore the past, but don't lean too heavily on it, either. Try to relax, try to have fun, and try not to feel too bad if things don't go the way you wanted.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:32 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, I would address it, first and foremost, by asking him if he'd like to see if your connection and chemistry are good in person as well as online. Once you meet, take all those things you shared, and flirtatious exchanges and keep them just below the surface, as the sly longtime flirtation they've become. Do try to be as flirty as you were online, even if that isn't your usual way, because guess what? It's fun! If he can't keep up with it, be patient, if he's all over you, be assertive.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:34 PM on February 7, 2008

Just say what you'd otherwise write.
posted by milinar at 2:35 PM on February 7, 2008

TPS is right. Sometimes email/text flirtations that seem like a lock will fizzle when you meet in person. When that happens you can neither predict it nor prevent it, you just gotta roll with it.

If it fizzles, it's usually the case that neither of you are exactly feeling it, so don't think that it's because you're awkward or unsexy. Think of it more in terms of "huh, I didn't want him as much as I thought." Usually you hit it off or you don't, and it's rare that just one of you is feeling sparks while the other person is cold.

But if there is something there, it'll flow naturally, so don't overthink it. Start at the beginning of the "friendly/funny to funny/flirty to flirty/sexy" progression, rather than jumping into the flirty talk, and it'll go from there.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:02 PM on February 7, 2008

I've found that meeting someone you've become acquainted with online is sort of a crap shoot. People tend to speak differently than they write. Someone who can write eloquently or wittily might end up sounding a bit clumsy or crude in person. The extra time you get when composing SMS or email is a bit like getting help from Cyrano.

ThePinkSuperhero is right on in suggesting that you manage expectations. That's been my own biggest problem in such meetings. It's easy to get your hopes up when the person is saying nice things and making you laugh. However, all it means is that you both happen to be people who are in the market for some kind of relationship and have passed some limited set of qualifications for interacting.

The plain fact is that you don't really know what you want for yourself until you test yourself with other people. So enjoy the opportunity to get out and flirt, take your time getting to know him better, and enjoy the uncertainty whether or not you'd be good together -- that's one of the great pleasures of life :-). If you really want to measure his mettle, get out of the cafe and into mixed social situations (group hikes, political discussions, book readings, ultimate frisbee). Anyone can have a mask one-on-one, but one of your disinterested friends might note an unguarded moment.
posted by Araucaria at 3:21 PM on February 7, 2008

Limited expectations are your friends.

I kind of assume that a first meeting is going to be awkward...I think the goal is to have a good enough time that you can get to a 2nd or 3rd meeting. I don't know. I'm awkward anyway, so I think I'm starting to roll by meeting 10.

Basically I would be as calm as you can for date #1, don't expect gigantic fireworks, and see what you think and if you'd like to go to date #2. It's much, much easier to connect online than in real life.
posted by sully75 at 3:25 PM on February 7, 2008

Two drinks are your friend.
posted by herbaliser at 3:28 PM on February 7, 2008

I've actually had the wondeful experience of an online-only connection turn into an intimate relationship of more than six months now. It started with long 18 paragraph emails to even longer IM sessions to $3000 phone-bill-running-up phone calls (international phone calls) to actually meeting and finding that we really really liked each other as much as online. It started because we found we had a lot in common in terms of beliefs and value systems but soon turned into the sort of connection I'd only dreamt of. I think some of the reasons it worked for us was that, while we both thought the other person was attractive from photos, looks were in any case not the most important thing to either of us. When I think of all the things that could have gone wrong I guess we were just really lucky. So don't have terribly high expectations, but don't let nervousness keep you from following this through.
The first meeting was awkward as hell, though, with neither of us knowing where to look. But within about half an hour we found we were able to pick up from where we'd left off online. All the best to you!
posted by peacheater at 6:43 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it gets awkward, get out the phone and text him. It'd be funny at the least, but may be perfect to break up any nervous tension.
posted by advicepig at 6:52 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Couple of thoughts:

1) I've found explicitly managing the expectations helped a lot - the asking him directly if he wants to see if the connection is as good in person is a great one.

2) Pick something to do that gives you something to talk about, and something that'll be enjoyable as friends, even if you don't click. So, say, go to a movie or concert or art exhibit or something that's related to what you've talked about, rather than just go out to dinner where conversation might go dead. Or have a dinner plan, but have a something else to do before that plan, and agree it's okay to decide to bail. Just something to avoid you both staring at each other going "Um."

It sounds like you both might be in the same area you went to high school in - meeting up for a big game/spring musical/some town event might be a fun way to reconnect without being too sticky if you don't have sparks flying.
posted by modernhypatia at 6:55 PM on February 7, 2008

If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. I personally just had a online-only relationship just blow up. Don't be afraid, but be realistic. There's no way to guarantee chemistry, and the only way to find out is to say "Let's go" and find out for yourself.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:26 PM on February 7, 2008

Flirting online and via text message... how do you translate that energy to real life?

You don't you take a risk and hope it works out. Understanding this is key.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:01 PM on February 7, 2008

I think flirting online and via text message is fantastic. Think about it. Each person gets to have his/her say without being interrupted (making it feel like that person is listening to you), text or emails usually always end in a open ended question to facilitate more conversation and it gives you time to think about what you will say. All great qualities of a conversation in person also in my opinion so do the same in person as well. Also you get more to work with in person like body language.

As for friend or date, I think sending flirty/sexy messages have already established that tone. Body language is big here to. If you want it to be a date, act like it. Not telling you to be slutty at all but guys are usually dense so it's good to make your intentions clear.

As for body language, there's a lot of material out there but basically what it comes down to in my experience is a gut feeling (from evolutionary traits that have helped our very existance i.e. grandpa knew he liked grandma right away as he subconciously noticed her smile, interest and demure mindset around him and thus your parents and you are here as a result). Use it as a tool to help you make your decision or next plan of action but not to rely on it exclusively (i.e. still take into account the actual conversation etc.)

And once you're more established with this guy or any other for that matter, text/online is still a great way to keep that chemistry flowing. Nothing gets a girl I'm dating more hot and bothered than her recieving text messages all day about what I'm going to do to her when we get home ;)
posted by skimides at 8:15 AM on February 8, 2008

Do try to be as flirty as you were online, even if that isn't your usual way

One thing I never do is act some way that isn't my usual way on a first date. Because that's what this is. There's a sort of "reset" that happens when an online interaction goes to in person. In a way, it can be the best of both worlds - a do-over with a bunch of history to share references to.

Keep it low key and fun. I think the watchword for this kind of transition is more like "playful" and "friendly" rather than flirty. Best-case scenario, it'll be obvious very quickly whether the real chemistry is present. Worst-case scenario, well, people can surprise you, but the lower key your (shared!) expectations, the better it will all turn out.
posted by caitlinb at 10:23 AM on February 8, 2008

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