Hey, if it worked for Nick and Priyanka...
The world of dating is ever evolving. Whilst our mums and dads may have met at the local dance or been set up by a friend of a friend, these days we’re more akin to making our romantic moves online. We download the dating apps and make our advances over text before we’ve ever uttered a word to each other in real life. Now there’s a new way to meet someone and it works on kind of the same principle, only without the endless swiping and the cheesy profile bios. All you need is a social media account, a functioning thumb and the balls.
For the uninitiated (and seriously, lucky you) sliding into someone’s DMs is the act of inserting yourself into someone’s direct messages inbox on Twitter or Instagram for some private chats. It’s the art of moving a conversation from the publicly visible timeline into one-on-one territory for a bit of flirty banter and – hopefully – more.
Sliding into someone’s DMs doesn’t have the most romantic connotations. If anything it can be seen as a bit sleazy, creepy and even sexually aggressive, but if done correctly, it can be a legitimate way to find love. It can be great for those of us who don’t feel brave enough to approach that cute lad at the bar or to ask someone out in person and it’s even better if you’re the type who doesn’t like getting knocked back face to face (that’d be, eh, all of us).
It’s a tactic that’s certainly been working for the ‘slebs. Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas have Twitter to thank for their relationship after Nick slid into Priyanka’s Twitter DMs in September 2016, before they finally met in person several months later, and married in summer 2018. Likewise, Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams got it together after he sent her a Twitter DM asking to take her out for drinks and tacos (cute!) and Ricky Martin nabbed his husband, Swedish painter Jwan Yosef, after connecting with him on Instagram DM about his art.
But the DM slide is not without its drawbacks and it can go awry. Get the art of the DM slide wrong and you not only risk the sharp sting of rejection but possible vilification. We’ve all seen those ill-fated private interactions that have gone public as a viral screenshot and nobody wants to wind up being group chat fodder. So before you creep into someone’s inbox, bear these seven tips in mind.
Before you go barging into someone’s DMs, you need to suss out if a message from you would be welcome. It’s essential you lay the groundwork first so drop a few likes on their posts (not every post for the love of God), leave them the occasional comment and if it’s Instagram, respond to their story with an emoji every now and again. From here, you’ll be able to gauge if they’re open to interacting with you. Have they followed you back? Are they reciprocating in some way? Do they seem pleased, or at the very least ambivalent to your appearance on their timeline? Great. You may proceed with caution.
No, seriously, don’t be weird. at means no sliding in with a creepy compliment, no professing your intentions before you’ve even said hello, and certainly no sexual banter straight off the bat. Keep it cool, casual, and smooth, and whatever you do don’t para-text them or bombard them with multiple messages. You’d do well not to like their posts from 49 weeks ago too. Awks.
It can be easy to assume that the rules are the same but there’s strict difference between connecting with someone on a dating app and doing so on social media. The former is clearly up for meeting someone, the latter may not be, so don’t jump in with the old ‘what are you looking for and how long have you been single’ spiel unless you want to look psychotic. It’s in the name, dating apps are for dating; social media apps are for being social. Confuse the two at your own peril.
Ask yourself this: when a Tinder match sends you a lazy ‘Hey, how are you?’ for their opening gambit, how likely are you to reply? Unless they’re actual Zac Efron, probably not very likely, correct? The same principle applies for the DM slide. You have to find some common ground between you.
For Ricky Martin it was art, for you it could be the restaurant they just posted on their story (sure didn’t you eat there last week!) or the festival tickets they just bought (you go every year!) One caveat though: it has to be authentic. In other words, don’t go making stuff up to try and force a connection. It’s got to be genuine. Bonus points if it’s something you’ve already chatted about publicly.
After a first date would you go follow that person on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook right away? No you wouldn’t for fear of being labelled a stage five clinger. Just like in real life you need to have a bit of chill about you, so if you’re lucky enough to be interacting with someone you fancy in their Twitter DMs, don’t try striking up a conversation with them on Instagram too. Just don’t.
You hit send and then nothing, now what? Resist the urge to multi-text. You’re allowed one follow up message, no more, no less. And if you do get a response (yay!) you’re not entirely off the hook either. In fact, as the initiator, you’ll need to constantly check that your new DM friend is still happy to be talking to you. Are they taking ages to respond and only send minimal responses when they do? If they’re really not feeling it – and it’ll probably be painfully obvious – take the hint, drop it and move on.
We’ve all been involved in those lengthy dating app chats that go on for weeks without anyone actually making a move. But in this age of overwhelming choice, you have to strike while the iron’s hot or risk the conversation eventually fizzling and someone else shooting their shot. Keep it super casual (are you sensing a theme here?).
If you’ve been steadily swapping coffee GIFs, ask them if they’d like to grab a brew. If you’ve been bonding over your shared taste in music, invite them to a gig with you. And if they do say no? Take rejection on the chin and be cool about it. Chances are you’re still going to see this person on social media (and them you) so keep things civil. A simple ‘That’s no worries. It’s been fun chatting to you anyway (insert smiley face)’ ought to do the trick. There are 2.7 billion people on social media, so there really are plenty more fish in the sea.