Forget about singles bars and dating services. The newest place to meet a mate is online, and now there's a book to help you transform a sedate trip down the information superhighway into a romantic adventure.
"Cyberflirt" (Plume, $12.95) offers tips on everything from identifying your flirting style to deciphering online acronyms. Included are lists of popular chat rooms and meeting sites, exotic places to go on virtual dates, and details about how to construct your personal Internet profile.
The book was written by Susan Rabin, the founder-director of New York City's School of Flirting, who is also a therapist, author, speaker and workshop leader. We invited Rabin to clue us in on a few of her flirting secrets.
Question: Can cyberflirting really be more fun than sitting at a bar having a meaningless conversation with a total stranger who promises to call but doesn't?
Answer: The Internet is the greatest singles party in the world. It is international, you can meet people day or night, and if you don't like someone, you just click "next." If it's raining, your hair is in rollers, or you just don't feel like going out, you can still relate and meet people on the Web.
In all of my lectures I say, "Being single is a numbers game." On the Internet, there are huge numbers of people to meet. It also opens up a whole new world for people who live in small towns.
But most importantly, it eliminates the immediate physical attraction factor. And women have a huge advantage, because there are many more men on the Web than women.
Q: If there are so many people online, how can I make myself attractive so that people will pay attention to me?
A: Don't say you have green eyes, brown hair, etc. You have to key in on a special interest or hobby, such as your desire to travel somewhere specific, a special kind of wine you like or your enthusiasm for mountain climbing. Make the books and movies you like specific.
Never be negative. No whining and complaining. Give compliments. The language of encouragement should be used on the Web.
Make sure your handle, or your online name, is not too sexual or obnoxious. It should be perky.
Q: But what if I'm shy about meeting new people?
A: That's OK. The advantage to talking online is that you have a chance to compose your thoughts. It also helps you brush up on letter-writing skills and giving compliments.
Q: What are the online flirting hot spots?
A: Chat rooms, singles sites, chat rooms centered around hobbies or interests like cars or antiques, message boards and personals. The best thing about personals on the Web is that you don't pay by the line, so you can include as much information as you want, keeping in mind there is a limit to what people will read.
Q: I met someone I want to get to know better. Is that possible to do online?
A: Yes. You may want to go on what I call a virtual date. Meet at the Museum of Modern Art Web site, where you can both log on and talk about the exhibits, or visit a bookstore site together and talk about featured books.
Q: Is there anything I shouldn't reveal about myself online?
A: Your address and phone number, because it could be dangerous. Remember, when you are flirting online, don't move too fast. That's one of the biggest problems in this world. Everyone thinks there is instant intimacy. It's a pleasure to get to know someone, and it leads to solid relationships.
Booth Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.