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Flirting online

It can be a lot of fun to flirt with people online. They might be people you know in person, or someone you have only met on an online platform.

‘Flirting’ is when you act like you are interested in a deeper relationship with someone, in a fun way. You can flirt with someone online in a range of ways, from exchanging flirtatious messages, to liking or commenting on a social media post.

The benefits and risks

Flirting can be a way to start and explore new relationships, and can have a lot of benefits for young people:

  • Getting to know someone. You have the chance to get to know the person you’re speaking to away from the opinions of your friends or their friends.
  • Being in control of the conversation. When you’re speaking to someone online, you can take time to think about what you’re going to say before you say it.
  • Building confidence. You can say things more freely because you don’t have to see their reaction immediately. Sometimes it can help you to feel more confident talking to them in person too.
  • Exploring identity and sexuality. You can meet likeminded people or find out more about yourself.
  • Building trust. If you’re speaking to someone every day and having deep conversations, it can create foundations for a trusting relationship.
  • Having fun. Flirting is supposed to be enjoyable, playful and not too serious.
Hands holding a phone with four heart emoticons appearing above the phone screen

However, there are also risks that young people should be aware of when flirting online.

  • It can be harder to communicate. When you’re chatting online, it can be harder to tell what people really mean. You might not be able to tell if what they said was a joke, or they might take what you said in the wrong way.
  • There are limits to privacy. Online chats do have more privacy, but there is always a chance that the person you’re speaking to might share what you’ve sent to them. Try not to say anything you wouldn’t want other people to see.
  • Pressure online. People online might be more likely to say things or ask for things they wouldn’t in person. You might feel pressure to go along with what they say to keep the conversation going.
  • Sending pictures and videos. Sending pictures and videos can be a fun way to flirt online, but try not to share anything you wouldn’t want other people to see. If someone you’re flirting with has asked you for a nude image, read our advice on sending nudes.
  • Think critically about who you’re talking to. Most people online are who they say they are, but it is easier for people to pretend to be someone else online. Someone could be lying about who they are or what they are feeling. Take a look at our article on catfish to find out more.
  • Keep personal information private. It’s a good idea not to share too much personal information with someone you have just met online in case they aren’t who they say they are. Especially things like where you live and where you go to school.
  • Meeting up. If you’ve been flirting with someone online for a while, you might decide its time to meet in person. It’s important to do this safely in case things don’t go quite how you expected. Speak to an adult you trust first, and read our tips for meeting up with someone you’ve met online.

If you’re worried that someone you’ve met online isn’t who they say they are or if they are making you feel uncomfortable, speak to a trusted adult or report it to CEOP.

Most websites will let you 'block' or report users if you don’t want to talk to them anymore or if they are making you feel uncomfortable.

Building healthy connections

When you’re flirting with someone online, it’s important to remember what qualities and values you think are important in relationships. These are just as important when you’re meeting people online as they are when you meet people offline.

These values should be present in all relationships, no matter how serious they are:

  • Respect: they show respect for your feelings and opinions.
  • Communication: they listen to you and value what you say. They talk openly about how they are feeling.
  • Trust: they accept what you tell them and don’t make you feel like you have to justify yourself.
  • Equality: they treat you as an equal and take into account what you need and want.
  • Best interests: they care about you and want what’s best for you.
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Report it

If you are under 18, report online sexual abuse to one of our Child Protection Advisors at the CEOP Safety Centre.

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If you're over 18, call 101 to speak to your local police. 

In an emergency

If you're ever in immediate harm or danger: 

  • Call the police on 999 straight away
  • Tell an adult you trust who will be able to support you through a difficult time

Talk to someone

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Free, confidential support online and over the phone for young people under 19.

Call 0800 1111

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The Mix is a charity that provides free information and support for under 25s.

Use their crisis messenger by texting THEMIX to 85258.

See all help

Online dating


Being safer when meeting people online.

Sending nudes


Things to consider if someone has asked you for a nude or you've already sent one.