Flirting on MSN was the ultimate rite of passage

Sorry that was my friend lol

When I was a teen, the first thing I did when I got home from school was sign in to MSN and wait for the girl I fancied to sign in.

And there was nothing more painful than asking a girl out on MSN and then, after no reply, she swiftly “appeared offline”. We all knew what that meant – she’d blocked you. You would then ask your friends if the person was online – dreading the answer. They would inform you that she was, and you would cry.

But that’s the thing: flirting on MSN was an art, and a right of passage for every twenty-something today.

Using nudges to get their attention

In hindsight, this was furiously annoying: a nudge literally shook your monitor so you couldn’t do whatever it was that you were doing. And you were probably chatting to upwards of twenty people. Granted, none of the conversations constituted anything of importance, but still.

Nudging was the prequel to poking on Facebook, but way more irritating. You knew your chat partner had heard the noise, and that the light was flashing – and you knew that they knew you wanted to know how you’d rate them out of ten (as a joke lol) – but that they would only reply if they fucking wanted to.

Then, when you nudged too much, MSN would politely point out you were being a psycho. “You may not send a nudge that often”.


“That was my friend lol”

Because when your friend comes over, you hang out on MSN – sure. Saying that – girls often did have their friends over at the time, and would catch you out by asking what you thought of them, or who was fitter.

If you didn’t get a reply after asking a girl out, a nonchalant “that was my friend lol” would get you out of danger. Chances are they didn’t believe you, but it was better than actually being rejected over messenger.

“What would you say if I asked you out? (but I’m not)”

This was my go-to card when I fancied someone as a young teenager. My game is only a little better now.

You’d be talking to a boy or girl who you fancied, and conversation had moved on from homework to your plans for the weekend (which usually involved ‘going to town’). You thought this was your time.

“What would you say if I asked you out?” There wasn’t a reply; your heart sank. In order to save face you’d type, quickly: “I’m not actually asking you out, just interested.”

They would usually reply with some non-answer about how you’re a great friend and they just didn’t want a boyfriend  at the moment. And so your lifelong tenancy at ‘Club Friend Zone’ began.


g2g and brb

Got to go and be right back. These were the classic get-out-of-jail-free cards. When someone you didn’t want to talk to kept pestering you or when someone who fancied you was harassing you, this was the easiest way of avoiding conversation. g2g dinner was my favourite.

In times of desperation, when it had been a very lengthy brb, you would ask if they were back yet. “Not yet, still busy” was the ultimate, crushing response.

Signing in and out to get their attention

You got a notification when someone came online, which was the single best thing in your world. As soon as you saw your crush’s combination of punctuation and Blink 182 lyrics, you knew you were settling in for the evening. Play it cool, play it cool, oh fuck it, message them straight away. No reply. Shit.

If you didn’t get a message after you signed in, no big deal. Just sign off again and back on. Sometimes this was deliberate, but sometimes it was just that the dial-up AOL had cut out because your mum was phoning her friend again.


When your crush was typing for ages then suddenly stopped, so you pulled out the “What were you going to say?”

Seriously, you were typing so much I thought you were typing out the full works of Charles Dickens. Then nothing. That doesn’t even make sense.

WHAT WERE YOU GOING TO SAY? WERE YOU GOING TO SAY YOU LOVE ME? They usually replied with oh nvm (never mind, for you youngsters) – and then a g2g. Cold.