Believe it or not, the first online dating chat service was launched in 1973. It offered embryonic online chat rooms, each of which could host up to five users. Since the Internet really kicked off in the 1990s dating chat systems have evolved apace, with some able to cater for hundreds of users at a time.
What do I need to know?
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Today, there are endless online opportunities to talk to people online, with rooms and forums offering various methods of one-to-one communication, such as instant messaging and even webcams. Most are for closed groups or offered as members-only services to those who subscribe to dating sites.
However, a sizeable number of dating sites offer free online chat, as a way to encourage communication between users. They can be a great way to engage in conversation with other users, without having to subscribe. However, for the full dating experience, you’ll need to sign up.
To find the best chat rooms through which you can connect with other singles, read our beginner’s guide to the cream of the crop.
How to find chat rooms?
Online chat rooms are like virtual parties. The only difference is that the users are chatting from various locations. Remote communication of this sort is a great way to start the dating process, allowing you to size-up other users before you consider taking the plunge and meeting face to face.
However, each online chat room has its own character and, in some cases, its own language. As a result, it’s important to find the best kind for you and your needs. Take some time to browse dating sites and see if they offer the kind of forums singles go to and whether they are free or require a subscription.
To join a dating chat room, you’ll need to pick a username. Don’t feel that you’re tied to it forever; many sites allow you to switch your username or ID as often as you like. You may also need a password, although sites that offer free chat often dispense with this.
Once you’re signed up and ready for some online conversation, the likelihood is that you’ll be presented with a range of choices. Most are clearly-labelled, according to the interests of the users; you might find titles, such as ‘Philosophy’ or ‘Music’.
However, if you’re interested in dating, then you want to find the chat rooms singles frequent. If you’re chatting through a dating site, then conversation and flirting are part of the deal. If you’re using a less-specific site, look out for titles that include the word ‘singles’ or ‘dating’.
The best offer a variety of methods of communication, such as one-to-one messaging and webcams. However, if you’re new to the online chat and dating game, stick to the online forums until you’ve built up your confidence.
Which are the best chat rooms?
The only way to decide which are the best chat rooms for you is to do a little homework. Online reviews are a great place to start, as you’ll get unbiased opinions on the services on offer. However, it’s well worth deciding what you want from your experience.
If you’re looking to use them as a springboard for dating chat, check out the sites that have a romantic leaning. You might even decide to give some of the free ones a whirl and gain a taster of the experience. This is well worth doing before you consider taking out a subscription.
If you’re in any doubt, check out some of the well-known ones. These have a reputation to uphold and you’re likely to find them welcoming and good places to meet other singles.
It’s worth checking out whether they operate a good ‘rules and regs’ policy. It’s better to start out on a site where the rules are clear, rather than walking into an online bun-fight and coming away with a bad experience under your belt.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of chat rooms?
The temptation for anyone using an online chat room for the first time is to wade in and try and make a connection. To make the most of your experience, take some time to read the threads that are already up and running.
What can be confusing for newbies is that often you’ll find more than one conversation taking place at any given time. Browse the chat and work out who is responding to what, before you try and contribute. There’s no point in starting out on the wrong foot.
However, a simple and effective way to introduce yourself to other users is to simply type a ‘Hello’ to everyone in the room and wait to see who responds. If this doesn’t get you noticed, aim your greeting at specific users or try and take part in an existing conversation.
Most of the best options dictate a list of rules and regulations. Bad language, offensive opinion and insults tend to be prohibited and, if those rules are broken, offenders can be reported and are often blocked or suspended.
Ideally, your conversation will lead to a connection with another user and you may find the public forum a little restrictive. If this is the case, you can invite the other user to a private conversation, using one-to-one messaging.
One-to-one messaging usually takes place in another window. You can choose either to keep an eye on the public room or devote all your time to a private conversation. Some of the best chatrooms allow users to make use of webcams, taking the conversation to another level.
For the most part, they do offer a degree of anonymity. While this is great for those who need to build up their confidence before getting into dating, it can have its downside. Some users use the cloak of anonymity to say things online that they might not ordinarily say in the real world.
As a result, you can find that the behaviour of some users borders on ‘trolling’; being deliberately provocative or inflammatory in order to gain a reaction. If you encounter any users displaying this sort of behaviour, you can choose to ignore them or, if you feel it’s warranted, report them.
However, anonymity also has its upside. You’ll often find that users are prepared to share their problems or offer sincere advice because no-one knows who they are.
How to stay safe in chat rooms
Staying safe online is an important part of your dating experience. From choosing the right outlet to making sure you follow the right etiquette, there are many ways to ensure that your time online is enjoyable.
- Be sure to choose a username that doesn’t reveal anything about you, so don’t include details such as your real name, date of birth or phone number.
- Online dating comes in many forms. If you’re hoping for a meaningful relationship, look for sites where the accent is on romance. However, if you don’t want the commitment and would rather find a like-minded playmate for an evening, you’ll find that’s on offer too.
- They’re not always full of genuine chat rooms singles. Never feel pressured to reveal any personal details about yourself and never feel obliged to send photographs of yourself.
- Be wary of opening attachments from other users. While most people are genuine, there may be scammers and fraudsters lurking in the shadows. Attachments are an easy and effective way for unscrupulous users to send malware and viruses.
- If dating is high on your list of priorities, it could be worth looking for rooms that also operate on your mobile phone. Mobile chat is a great way to keep up with any connection you might have made and ideal for making the next move and meeting up.
- Check out the policies on reporting and blocking users. If you encounter someone whose behaviour makes you uncomfortable in any way, take the appropriate steps.
- While dating is the ultimate aim for most chat rooms singles, be sure to take care when meeting, face to face. Choose a public location for your first date and, if you feel things aren’t as they should be, don’t be afraid to walk away.