Chatrooms are a great place to meet potential friends, and perhaps lovers. Even better you don't have to dress up and pass visual inspection to go there.
The anonymity of a chatroom means that if you mess up or you don't want to continue to get to know someone you can just leave the chatroom and not go back or you can change your log-in nickname.
This is not a licence to be obnoxious, but it does give you plenty of room to practice making friends with strangers.
Here are some tips to help you out when using chatrooms.
Protect your identity
If you want total control of the information that is too often revealed to the world through chatrooms, don't use your personal or your work-related e-mail. You should sign up for an e-mail account specifically to use for chatting on line. You can use hotmail's free e-mail service.
Don't reveal private information
Be careful about the information you give in casual conversation. Don't give any hint of your workplace, your home town or other personal info that can be linked to where you come from.
Listen to your head
Use your common sense and judgment. If someone sounds creepy or a bit dodgy, there's a good chance they are. If your flirting is getting a bit out of hand for your liking, speak up or change your e-mail address and nickname.
Getting to know people
If you want people to be open and honest with you, you must also do the same. You don't have to go into personal details but don't pretend to be someone you're not otherwise you will only attract the sort of people you are pretending to be.
Don't expect too much
Remember that you are using a chatroom so you have no idea what this person really looks like or what his personality is like. You may build a mental image of him. Try not to because 9 times out 10 you will be wrong and will feel disappointed if he doesn't live up to your expectations. Keep an open mind and you won't be disappointed.
Develop common activities
Make dates with each other to share activities, like playing online games or sharing a forum. Talk about how long you expect to communicate online before meeting.
Don't fake photos
If you decide to swap pictures, send a current picture which is flattering, but doesn't hide or distort your true appearance. Misleading pictures are probably the leading cause of disappointments in relationships that start on the Internet. Whatever you do make sure that you give him a photo of you and not someone else or you'll never be able to meet him because he will think you are someone else.
If you get to the point in your online relationship where you decide you want to meet each other, arrange to meet in public where you will be comfortable and safe. Meet in a busy place, over coffee or a casual meal. Be prepared in case you don't like him and have a back up plan. Ask a friend to phone you an hour after meeting him and you can tell her you will phone her later if you two are getting on well. If you aren't getting on well you can make an excuse and leave. Remember to always let someone know where you are at all times.