Bytesize Blog: Twitter flirting - online romances can be fun until the cheeky turns to creepy

Twitter has, for most, entwined itself into our daily routines but when the cheeky turns to creepy, it's not necessarily all fun and games, says Jamie Smith

If you're a regular Twitter user and you're single and you haven't swapped flirty direct messages (DMs) with someone and subsequently developed a bit of a crush on them, you're doing it wrong.

Whether you're organising revolutions to overthrow dictators, putting together clean-up operations after riots or sharing pictures of your breakfast with your favourite ITV2 celebrities (Yo @lemontwittor - check out my muesli, bro!), Twitter has changed the lives of millions of people around the world, and mostly for the better.

But one of my favourite things to do on Twitter is flirt. I'm not the sort of bloke who can talk to women in bars without feeling like an idiot. My last such conversation with a female ended like this - Me: "Can I buy you a drink?" Her: "No."

On Twitter, it's different. You probably follow people with similar interests, political views and hobbies to yourself, which gives you a head start on making a connection with them. But the best bit is that you get the chance to measure your responses, to take your time over your witty replies to wow your chosen flirting partner. You don't have to post the first thing you can think of. You can edit yourself.

If you get on with someone, you might move on to flirty DMs, maybe even text messages if you're trusting enough to give out your number to an internet stranger who could turn out to be an axe murderer.

I once made the mistake of getting too close to a girl I knew from Twitter. And I mean that geographically, as well as metaphorically. I actually moved house, to another country, partly to be nearer to her.

There were other reasons, of course. I'm not completely mad. Inevitably, it didn't work out. She didn't like me like I liked her and it was a little bit brutal, though my own stupid fault. But we're still friends. I've been out with other people from Twitter and while there hasn't been that spark Richard Curtis films have convinced us all exists when it doesn't - really, it doesn't - I've had fun.

But Twitter flirting isn't necessarily harmless. Some people go way too far and cross the line between cheeky and creepy.

Many women report being harassed by men through the site. A friend told me she got a DM from a man about sneaking into her bedroom while she was asleep and "unzipping". Horrible and disturbing. "I'm all up for some laughs, but that made me feel sick," she says.

Others have received messages pestering them for sex. Another friend told me how a man came on to her in DMs and turned out to be a lecturer working at her university. It's common for women to have been sent dodgy, sleazy, pervy, dirty and downright weird messages through Twitter, even though you can only receive DMs from people you follow.

Others have positive stories to tell. Charly Murgatroyd and Andy Hart have been together four years after they got chatting on Twitter and bumped into each other by chance.

"You don't realise how well you get to know people by tweeting every day, it's a really easy way to find people with similar interests and it just so happened that he lived about four miles away from me," says Charly.

"It was a bit awkward the first time we admitted we liked each other. I think we were both a little bit embarrassed, so it went from tweeting every day to a few days of nothing, but a few weeks later we decided to give it a go," she adds.

"I think people assume that if you meet on the internet it won't last but if it wasn't for Twitter, chances are we'd probably never have met."

Another advocate of dating people from Twitter is writer Kit Lovelace, who recommends people confess to their online crushes and has carried out his own research into the matter.

He points out Twitter is still new enough that many are yet to cotton on to how useful it can be as a dating tool.

"As soon as most people catch wise, it will become no more useful than any other dating site - where people act on their best behaviour at all times. At the moment, people are laying themselves bare and it's ideal," says Kit, who has been on about a dozen dates through Twitter.

This includes two with a woman who has been a pundit on a current affairs TV show.

He adds: "Twitter makes it almost impossible for people to keep their true personalities under wraps. People's timelines give a very clear indication of what they think, what they like, how they interact with both friends and strangers and (crucially) it shows what sort of a sense of humour they have.

"This means it's very easy to see who you would hate in real life, but it also affords you a huge wealth of reasons to fall in love with people you find magnetic."

Kit will be the best man at the wedding of a Twitter couple later in the year.

As for my own current Twitter crush, I'll be keeping that to myself. I know nothing will - probably, a man can dream, can't he? - ever come of it, but it's an occasional distraction from my mostly mundane life. And isn't that what Twitter is for?

@JamieSmiff

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Java Developer

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform