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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Talking to Women Online

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


How to Talk to Women Online &
Boyfriend Visits Online Dating and Porn Sites

Quick Access:
How to Talk to Women Online

Boyfriend Visits Online Dating and Porn Sites

I have just found your site and thought I would ask you a question that has been on my mind. I have recently started chatting with someone online, just over a week. We both seem to like the same things. What I really need to know is how to go about sending messages to her so that I do not seem over eager, or a stalker for that matter? This is my first online attempt with the other sex. Please help.


I’m happy to help you, and so would a professional relationship coach if you feel a strong and personal support person is needed to help you get back into the dating game and to navigate the often tricky waters of online dating. However, there are some rules to get you started right now.

First, don’t play hard to get. Men and women both like someone who’s forthright and open with his/her feelings and intentions. That’s not permission to come on strong, overly suggestive or the like, but the point is to speak your mind in a respectful way while simultaneously heeding your intuition about what to say, how to say it and how often to say it. See my article on intuition here.

Second, don’t hound someone online, because women usually put up with tons of emails, IMs and automated “winks” from men. I would write no more than two or three times a day. If your style is to write long messages, then send fewer emails. If your style is to write short, pithy messages, then you can send more of those. The key is to write in a way that saves your prospect time -- because women have a huge demand on their time on online dating sites. As you get to know her better and you feel a genuine attachment is forming, then you can up the pace and content of the emails.

Recent research shows what topics women like to talk about online, as well as what issues are major turn-offs. Knowing this information might help to guide your messages so you come across as interesting and most importantly, safe.

Women’s Top Ten Favorite Conversation Topics

  1. Hopes and aspirations      
  2. Hobbies/interests in general
  3. Music 
  4. Dreams
  5. Romance
  6. Friends
  7. Travel
  8. Vacations
  9. Movies
  10. Entertainment


Women’s Top Ten Least Favorite Conversation Topics

  1. Politics                   
  2. Other dates                
  3. Past relationships         
  4. Science fiction            
  5. Religion                   
  6. Celebrities                
  7. Science                    
  8. Antiques                   
  9. Money                       
  10. History                    


When it comes to how you write messages, I also have some pointers. Certain behaviors turn-on and turn-off women. Keep these six principles in mind…

  • Show your romantic side. Too often men come on strong and steer the conversation to sexual issues.

  • Be polite. Too often men show poor boundaries online.

  • Be comfortable. Too often men try to play a character online, rather than reveal their true selves.

  • Have fun. Too often men work an agenda as opposed to being natural and enjoying the process of actually getting to know someone. 

  • Be intelligent. Too often men show poor spelling and grammar, which shows poor education or poor attention to detail.

  • Be optimistic. Too often men come across as gamey, dominating or ultra-mysterious. Motivating and upbeat people are almost always more attractive and interesting to most women.                            

My boyfriend and I have been dating for one year now. We dated in the past, but broke up because he was unfaithful. We have known each other for 10 years. My boyfriend has an issue with online dating sites and pornography sites. He hasn’t actually contacted anyone since we have been together, but he has in the past. He visits these sites I’m guessing to see what other fish are in the sea. Is there something I’m doing wrong? How can I make my boyfriend change this?

 Is Cyber-cheating ever okay? That’s a question you need to answer for yourself. Some couples set expectations really well and have a clear understanding of what’s acceptable and unacceptable in the relationship. If a couple agrees that cyber-flirting isn’t cheating then all’s fine. However, I suspect you’re extremely uncomfortable with it, and that’s understandable.

Frankly speaking, your boyfriend is a serial cheater. He cheated in the past, and those urges are still there. It’s likely he’ll act on them again for two reasons. First, he’s psychologically weak, self indulgent and selfish. Second, he thinks he can get away with it with you. In particular, he cheated before and you still took him back. That has set the precedent for him to “have his cake and eat it too.” Further, you’re assuming that he’s neither contacted nor visited anyone recently from the online dating sites he’s on, but how do you know for sure. If you know anything predictable at your boyfriend, it’s that he can’t be trusted.

I might sound harsh, but you need to know that you’re not responsible for his behavior. You aren’t causing his selfish, impulsive behavior… he is. This means that you’re powerless to stop it, and it’s not your responsibility to stop it for him. If you’re doing anything “wrong,” it’s tolerating his behavior.  In a way, he’s doing you a favor by showing you his true colors before you take the relationship to a new level and get more deeply attached to him. Even though you can’t change his behavior, you can change the situation. Leave him and find someone who deserves your love, commitment and friendship. This boyfriend is not a friend; he’s a headache and heartache now and can probably only offer you bigger headaches and heartaches down the road.


Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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