How To Talk To Strangers Online (Without Being A Troll)

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Want to gain confidence when talking to strangers?

Knowing the risks of talking to people online when seeking out online friendships can be important. Those who are interested in navigating online conversations and talking to strangers on the internet should consider the following:

  • There can be benefits and risks to talking to strangers online. 
  • Strategies like good online etiquette, secrecy awareness, and internet safety can increase the chances of healthy connections.
  • Talking to strangers online can be a great way to expand social circles and practice social interaction.

Working with a therapist in online or in-person therapy can help you learn effective communication skills and helpful methods for remaining safe while speaking to people you don’t know on the internet.

Benefits and risks of online conversations

Socialization can improve mood, mental health, and overall well-being. By interacting with other people, individuals can be exposed to different viewpoints, perspectives, and behaviors. Much of this can be accomplished with face-to-face interaction, but online conversations can also be majorly beneficial. 

Online conversations can provide support for specific life experiences that may not be available to an individual otherwise. For example, someone with a hobby or trait that is not common in their area might find an online group to connect with like-minded individuals. Viewing online conversations with strangers as a networking opportunity may also be beneficial. Instead of focusing on friendships exclusively, you might use the opportunity to learn more about the ideas, resources, and knowledge that online connections can offer.

Another potential benefit of online communication is the increased community. The internet is so vast that there may be a corner for nearly every community, often making it easier than ever to start conversations with strangers where there is already a mutual interest at play. Individuals may find it easier to gain a sense of belonging when they already have some knowledge about a potential connection’s interests. Those seeking online connections, because they feel isolated or disconnected from those close to them, may find this especially helpful.

Making friends online is not necessarily a new phenomenon. Especially since the rise of social media, having “internet friends” can be commonplace. Forbes explains, “Add ‘making friends’ to the growing roster of reasons why teens can’t seem to take their eyes off their screens. A new study, Teens, Technology and Friendships, released by Pew Research Center, shows that 57% of teens (ages 13-17) have met at least one new friend online, with nearly 30% making five or more pals. Girls meet people primarily through social media, while boys tend to make acquaintances through gaming or eSports.” Making friends online may not just be for teens. More adults may be connecting through dating, friendship, and meetup apps.  

While there can be many potential benefits to seeking online conversation, risks can also be present. The internet’s standards for content can vary wildly from site to site, so it can be helpful to stay aware. Similarly, plenty of misinformation on the internet may not be helpful in certain situations. Just as there may be positive groups based around connection and hobbies, there may also be groups that promote negative behaviors and belief systems. Being mindful of the content you consume and utilizing credible websites can be good ways to mitigate the risks of connecting with strangers online.

Connecting with strangers online can also bring an inherent risk of vulnerability. Some people on the internet may hide behind the innominateness it offers to be cruel or aggressive. This can lead to a negative experience for individuals looking to form friendships and may adversely affect their mental health. Awareness of potential negative behavior and setting clear boundaries in conversation can defend individuals from negative conversations. Because of the internet’s innominateness, it can also be important to verify the identity of conversation partners whenever possible. This can be especially important in the context of personal issues like mental health, body image, or advice requests. When feasible, you might ensure information is from verified sources with credentials that can be easily checked.

Strategies for navigating online conversation

Getty/MoMo Productions

Using critical thinking skills and etiquette when speaking to strangers online can increase the chances of a positive connection. Some other strategies for navigating online conversations are listed below:

Be mindful of secrecy and safety

Set up the appropriate personal settings on whatever website or app is used to talk to strangers. Limiting what strangers can see on social media can defend personal details to improve safety. Some users may choose to use an alias online to defend their personal space even more. Regardless, it can be crucial not to give personal identifying information like home addresses, phone numbers, or professional information to strangers.

Practice digital etiquette

Practicing etiquette is often just as important online as it is in face-to-face conversations. When having conversations with a stranger online, it’s generally best to treat them with respect as much as possible. Using polite and appropriate language can increase the chances of a good connection and potential friendship. Additionally, individuals can “lead by example” with good digital etiquette and promote positive interactions in any online communities they are part of.

Demonstrate value upfront

Forbes says, “Build relationships and demonstrate value for your social media connections without demanding something in return or being solicitous. Demonstrate your thought leadership, knowledge, and credibility first and foremost. People will feel compelled to give out your content and be more likely to see you as a key resource for meeting their needs and building a strong community of trust.”

Use effective communication skills

Good communication skills can be critical when forming any kind of connection, particularly when talking to strangers online. Because individuals often do not have body language or tone to rely on, there can be more room for interpretation when communicating. Practicing active listening, paying attention to the other person, and expressing thoughts respectfully can all go a long way when communicating online.

Seeking professional help for online conversations

Online therapy can be especially beneficial for individuals interested in navigating online conversations and talking to strangers on the internet. Because appointments take place virtually, it can be good practice in a safe space for meeting other people online. Additionally, speaking to a professional can help an individual develop healthy online boundaries and learn to identify potential risks before talking to strangers. Online therapy typically offers flexible scheduling outside standard business hours and can be an excellent resource for those who may lack available mental health services.

Online therapy can be particularly effective for individuals especially focused on forming connections. One study argues that video therapy can strengthen the therapeutic alliance for younger people, citing, “There is growing evidence that the digital natives of the younger generation who have grown up with technology as an integral part of everyday life and interpersonal connectedness are increasingly demanding services that match their needs and the world as they experience it.” Reaching out to a professional online to learn more about navigating digital relationships can be effective for forming connections.

Want to gain confidence when talking to strangers?


The internet can be a fantastic tool for connecting with strangers and making new friends. However, it can be important to remain aware of the risks that can come with online conversations. Those interested in learning more about online communication should consider seeking guidance from a licensed professional who can help outline boundaries, potential risks, and positive communication strategies. By learning and incorporating techniques like safety awareness, internet safety, and digital etiquette, individuals can improve their chances of safely navigating online conversations and talking to strangers. Online therapy can be an effective method of seeking help.
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