The Complete Guide To Talking To Strangers

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you are looking for a new romantic partner, a friend, or a casual acquaintance, learning how to talk to strangers can be beneficial. When you connect with a new person, you can gain new perspectives, experiences, and opportunities for personal growth. With technological advancements, you can now talk to strangers from the comfort of your home. 

Although social media and dating apps make it easier to meet new people, talking to someone you've never met before can still be intimidating. This guide will provide tips and techniques for conversing more fluently and engaging with strangers.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
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Connect using technology

Social media has revolutionized how we keep in touch with friends, family, and the world. Popular platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat have made telling stories and posts highlighting our interests and events in our personal lives more manageable.

Social media platforms provide ample opportunities to reach new people, especially since you can chat with anyone from your home. Commenting on a post or sending a direct discreet message allows you to connect with anyone—whether they live nearby or across the globe—without further obligation. If a conversation becomes awkward, you can end it and block accounts you no longer wish to communicate with.

Networking forums

If you are looking for a professional way to meet someone online, either for career development or for building a social network within your field, you can use a job-oriented networking site such as LinkedIn. You can explore the profile pages of people with similar professional goals and interests and reach out to others through mutual contacts to build personal connections in your career. Even though LinkedIn is career-oriented, it can also be a place to meet hard-working, successful professionals who may help you expand your online presence.


In the days before the Internet, people could place personal ads in their local newspapers, describing themselves and what they wanted in a romantic partner. Today, technology makes it much easier to browse through the dating pool than before. You can download dozens of free or low-cost dating and communication apps on your phone. Talking to strangers using dating apps can be less intimidating since you typically build a connection online and meet in person when you both feel comfortable.

Here are some popular examples:

Tinder and OkCupid

Whether you want to chat, meet up, or simply form a casual relationship with someone attractive, Tinder and OkCupid offer a quick, user-friendly experience that lets you view other users from your preferred distance.


Hinge is referred to as “the dating app designed to be removed.” It’s built on the Nobel Prize-winning Gale-Shapley algorithm and may benefit those looking for long-term partners. 


You can use this app to connect with local people who have the same interests as you. Users form groups for virtual or in-person events like hiking, chess, crafting, and sports.


For college students and graduates, Friendsy connects you with fellow students on campus. This app helps young adults form friendships and engage with their college community.


This app connects you with local hosts for unique home-dining experiences. You can gain an authentic sense of different cultures and possibly some new friendships through these connections.


Happn connects you with people you've crossed paths with using GPS. When you walk by another user, their profile appears in your timeline.


 If you want to connect with people who like to party, PartyWith may provide the right connections. You can discover local nightlife experiences, make new friends, and create unforgettable memories.


Bumble is a dating app like OkCupid and Tinder. However, it empowers female users to make the first move. Only women can initiate contact in this app.


Chat rooms: Where you can talk to strangers

Chat Rooms allow you to talk with strangers online about specific interests, perspectives, and anything else you can think of. Some chat rooms even provide a forum for debate on particular subjects, which could be an effective way to discover people with common viewpoints. If you connect with someone, your interaction with them could go beyond a simple talk with a stranger.

Video games

Video games have never been more popular today and are constantly evolving. Role-playing or interactive games provide an environment where hundreds, if not millions, of other players may participate, depending on the game. Online gaming usually means you'll meet new players every time you play. You can connect with new people, establish friendships, and even mute players you don’t want to interact with. You may even consider investing in a headset to chat with others in your game.

Meet strangers in person

Despite all the digital options available; many people prefer to meet face-to-face in coffee shops, bars, hostels, universities, church groups, or volunteer events. Although you may be hesitant to connect face-to-face with someone you barely know, you might already have more in common than you think. Your everyday life will likely bring you into contact with people who have the same interests and tastes as you. If you show up for a volunteer event, for example, there’s a high chance that everyone there is interested in giving back to their community. It may be easier to maintain a close relationship if they live nearby or within the area.

Studies have found that residential proximity can be crucial in relationship building. You are more likely to marry your neighbor than someone from a different town or state. With this in mind, consider reaching out to people around you. The next time you stand in line at a coffee shop, grocery store, or wherever you are, try starting a casual conversation with the person next to you. You never know who you might meet.

How should I approach people?

Knowing how to approach a stranger friendly and invitingly can make all the difference. Here are some tips for starting an initial conversation:

First impressions matter

Research suggests that first impressions matter. Clothing style, body language, and facial expressions affect how people perceive you. A smile can go a long way in helping you break the ice with someone new. Show them that you’re approachable and willing to start a conversation.

Think through your opening line

Aside from your appearance (or profile picture online), your first message or greeting creates a stranger’s first impression of you. Avoid starting with “Hey” or “What’s up?”; these simple, easily overlooked messages won’t make you stand out. Offer a concise and meaningful message that conveys to the listener (or reader) why they caught your eye. Also, keep in mind that almost everyone enjoys a genuine compliment.

Learn the art of conversation

Instead of thinking about your response when someone is speaking, take a moment to listen genuinely. Then, pause to construct a thoughtful response. Don’t be afraid of brief pauses in conversation; they are simply byproducts of active listening. Try to ask questions that contribute to the discussion and maintain eye contact to convey genuine interest. After discussing something about yourself, follow up with a question about the other person so they understand you’re not overly self-focused.

Find common ground

When talking to a stranger, one of the most important goals can be finding common ground. Almost anyone can learn to do this. Try asking targeted questions to identify the person’s interests, ideas, perspectives, and experiences. With enough questions, you’re bound to find some overlap. Common ground can be a solid entry point into a more meaningful relationship.

Pay attention to body language

Crossed arms, lack of eye contact, feet pointed away from you, and a lack of facial expression or vocal intonation can all signal that the other person has lost interest in the conversation. Note your body language and the messages you may be sending. If you communicate via technology, try to be patient and avoid double or triple texting. Let the other person take their time to respond to you before you attempt to further the conversation.

Stick to familiar places

Chances are you have a few places you’re comfortable and familiar with. Consider meeting people at an old haunt you know well, such as your favorite coffee shop or bar. It might make it easier to relax and be yourself—key for making connections. 

Bring a friend to talk to strangers

Starting a conversation with a stranger may feel very intimidating if you're alone. The next time you go out looking to meet new people, consider bringing a good friend. Places like a community center or the pool could be helpful places to start. And if you want to make the first approach, your friend can provide moral support from behind as an encouragement.

Ask your friends to bring their friends

If you’re setting up a social gathering, tell your friends to invite over some of theirs. It could help put you at ease with meeting strangers if they are acquaintances of your friends. By the end of the evening, you could leave with a handful of new contacts and connections.

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How online therapy can support new relationships

Talking to strangers and forming new relationships can be challenging. You're not alone if you feel nervous about reaching out to people you've never met or don't know well. You can discover the underlying issues causing your worries and learn how to foster and maintain meaningful relationships with the help of a mental health professional.

If you’re concerned about talking to strangers, attending therapy in person may be intimidating. With online therapy platforms like BetterHelp, you can conveniently use video chats, phone calls, or in-app messaging to speak with a therapist. You may be able to be more open and vulnerable during sessions due to the distance created by online therapy.

The efficacy of online therapy

Depression and social anxiety can often cause people to withdraw and isolate themselves from others. It may make it more difficult to maintain existing connections and form new ones. Online therapy can provide a safe and comfortable environment for people to discuss their mental health concerns. Studies have shown that it can be just as effective as in-person therapy, and many people prefer the convenience of online sessions.

A 2022 Hong Kong study showed that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered via the Internet effectively treats social anxiety disorder (SAD). Most participants experienced improvements in their SAD symptoms after completing the treatment.

Counselor reviews

I have been working with Dr. Hardin for four months now, and I’ve had amazing breakthroughs and progress in processing my emotions, habits, and social life. I look forward to our sessions, and I am interested in doing the work and advice she gives me to examine, evaluate, and process my issues and conflicts. I would highly recommend her.

I honestly look forward to my sessions with Robin every week. If I am unable to see her for one week, she is always sure to check in with me. Robin has already provided me with so many helpful & refreshing new perspectives and tools to help me better understand myself and the world around me, as well as how to function better under stress and be kinder/more understanding towards myself. I am TRULY grateful for all of Robin’s help and her commitment to helping me achieve my therapy goals and look forward to continually growing. This has been a wonderfully valuable experience for me!


Talking to strangers can be a gratifying experience. It may lead you out of your comfort zone, provide a different perspective, and push you to try new things. However, meeting new people can be intimidating, especially if you’re living with a condition like social anxiety disorder. Connecting comfortably with others can be crucial to forming new connections and feeling less intimidated when approaching strangers. Online therapy can help you overcome barriers to building new relationships by offering tools and guidance.
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