Single Life
Shoot your shot on Instagram with these expert-approved tips for DM sliding.
Here's A Foolproof Way To Slide Into Your Crush's DMs

Go ahead and shoot your shot.

by Brittney Morgan and Claire Fox
Originally Published: 

Having a crush on a person you follow on social media is daunting. Or rather, traversing the virtual divide between your screens — AKA shooting your shot — is daunting. And, sure, we can’t all have the confidence of Lizzo DMing Chris Evans while tipsy on Instagram. But the good news is there are plenty of easy, no-stress tips for how to slide into someone's DMs that can help you achieve foolproof flirtation. If you're concerned about how to shoot your shot on Instagram or you feel like it's too invasive or creepy, don't worry too much — it’s a fairly mainstream way to connect with someone and it might even be Gen Z’s preferred way to flirt.

Online dating expert Julie Spira shared with Elite Daily that she has encountered plenty of couples who established an initial connection in the DMs. “Sliding into DMs actually is a part of many people’s dating strategy, and there is a definite fine art to it,” she says. The key is to keep things casual, play it cool, and don't get too forward.

Alessandra Conti, personal matchmaker at Matchmakers In The City, also tells Elite Daily that sliding into people's DMs is not anywhere near as taboo as it used to be, and it can actually be a good way to meet new people.

"With the way that our culture changes so quickly — even dating apps, a few years ago, [they] were taboo and now they're so normal," Conti says. "That said, there are definitely different ways of going about sliding into the DMs, and some ways [can be] incredibly shady."

So, to avoid being shady — and to give yourself a real chance at making a connection with someone through their DMs — here's what you need to know before you make any sort of moves.

Don't Be Too Forward Or Sexual

The number one thing you have to remember when you're sliding into someone's DMs, Conti says, is not to open with a message that's sexual or talking about the other person's physical appearance, even if you mean it as a compliment. This is especially important if you're a man sliding into a woman's DMs, and, in general, men are the ones doing most of the sliding, according to Spira.

In any case, starting with something physical, sexual, or overtly forward in any way implies that you're only interested in hooking up, and that is usually considered a turnoff or a red flag. (If that is what you're going for, then fine — but make sure you're respectful with what you say regardless.)

“People still send these types of messages because they're used to hitting on people in bars in the old days, and they just don't know how to communicate digitally,” Spira says. “There's an art to communicating, whether it's on a dating app or on social media, that's different than if you're having a conversation with someone in person.”

Women typically never respond to people who send unsolicited sexual messages out of nowhere — and not only do they not respond, but they usually block the sender. Conti confirms that this is the general reaction from most people, too, noting that most too-forward messages get left without replies.

So, if you're genuinely looking to make a real romantic connection with someone from a DM slide, steer clear of any heavy flirtation right off the bat. "If a guy or a girl is actually looking to connect with that person, instead of saying something about the physical, they should say something that's more indirect in terms of the content of the message," Conti says.

Find Something You Both Connect With

So, what's a more indirect way to message someone and connect with them? Conti shares some examples, like bringing up a mutual friend or asking about a concert or a festival they recently attended. Another option that works if they live in your area is to message them if you think you saw them at the store or out somewhere. Conti says that even just a "Hey, so random, but I think I saw you at Trader Joe's before — was that you?" can work.

"The best way to DM someone is to say something that is non-threatening, and very much just kind of opening a conversation," Conti says. Spira suggests even sending your crush’s most recent post in a DM with a comment you might usually reply to publicly to casually set up a conversation in a more intimate space.

Establish a Rapport

Interacting with your social media crush’s posts in a less private way first, like following each other, liking or reacting to each other’s posts, and sending public replies, is key to setting up for a positive DM sliding experience, according to Spira.

“Think friendship first,” she says. “It's really easy to build rapport, because everybody looks to see who has liked their posts, and it triggers the person who was receiving the like to look at the other person’s profile.”

While DM cold calling isn’t unheard of, Spira says it can turn off a lot of people. “People are just more comfortable talking to people they feel like they know already,” she says. “Because if you come out of the gate and send somebody a cold DM, it will probably come across as creepy, maybe even stalkerish.” But Conti adds that in some situations, it can be OK. "I don't really think it's that necessary to be interacting publicly before DMing someone," she says — it should just be enough if you follow them and they follow you.

Start with Small, Quick Hits

Keeping your initial messages short, fun, and friendly will also give you an advantage. “Nobody wants to read a whole drama book,” Spira says.

You don’t want your recipient confusing you shooting your shot with some marketing team’s lengthy, spammy Instagram ploy. Limiting your messages to brief sentences or phrases, ones that might even fit in the short message previews, will let your crush know you’re a real person sending a real DM.

“People get ahead of themselves because they get excited about somebody, and they are perceived as a stalker, and that will get you blocked,” Spira says. “The best thing you could do is write one to two sentences and add an emoji — as long as it's not an eggplant!”

Know What You're Getting Into

Something to keep in mind before you make the move to slide into someone's DMs is that it can help to feel out their profile a little bit first. For one, check their posts to make sure they're not already seeing someone to avoid DMing someone who's not single. Conti suggests, especially on Instagram, taking a quick look through their tagged photos (this can help you figure out if they're dating someone!) or their following list and what sorts of accounts they comment on a lot. On Twitter, you can look at their replies section.

You don't need to fully stalk them, but Conti says you should definitely take a look — a cursory scroll can't hurt. Before you message someone or get too involved with someone who has slid into your DMs, checking out their profile can give you a good idea of how they're interacting with other people, too. This is mostly just to save you from wasting your time by messaging someone who is already in a relationship or isn't seriously looking for a connection.

Move Things Offline When Possible

If you have managed to successfully slide into someone's DMs and start a conversation, congratulations! That's the first step — the next one, once you've created a conversation that's flowing, is to turn that connection into an IRL one by meeting up in person.

"The biggest struggle that I see with this generation is that a lot of people are talking a lot, but it's almost like they have a million pen pals," Conti says. "Whether they're meeting on an app or they're meeting through sliding into the DMs, it never goes past that stage of just commenting on the other person's stuff."

"It is important to lead the conversation into a physical introduction," Conti continues. And whether that's asking someone to meet up for coffee, offering them your extra ticket to a comedy show, or setting up a picnic in a public park, there are plenty of options for asking them to meet up in person.

Just like with dating apps, one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of finding a real connection is to transition away from online and toward in-person by not waiting too long to meet face to face.

Conti also agrees with the idea of meeting up sooner rather than later. "You do want to get it from the DMs to real life as soon as possible, because also, if you're talking for months, it's just like the momentum is dead," she explains. Aim for one week or less to transition your conversation to an in-person date.

Ask A Friend For Help Connecting You

In general, both online and offline, Conti says that the best way to make a connection with someone is through another person, like a mutual friend. In terms of DM sliding, if you're new to a city, for example, Conti says Facebook is an option for meeting new people in the area who are friends with your friends. You can also hit them with a follow on Instagram or Twitter.

"You can totally just message them and say something like, 'Hey, I see you're friends with [this person], I'm brand new to the city and would love to meet some cool people. How's it going?'" Conti explains.

But, if doing that makes you nervous or you're worried about coming off in a creepy way, you can also take things a step further by asking your friend for an introduction, Conti says. You can tell your friend that you're looking to meet new people and even mention specific people you might be interested in to get them to make a connection for you.

Move On When It Doesn't Work

The absolute worst thing you can do when it comes to sliding into someone's DMs is harassing them if they don't respond to you. Some people just aren't going to be interested, and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with you — it might even be just because your message ended up in a category designated for message requests from non-mutual followers. Regardless, take the L if this happens.

“If you're sending a DM to someone who has ignored you once, ignored you twice, has never commented on any of your posts [or] liked any of your posts, they're basically not interested,” Spira says. “Get the cue, right?”

“If they don't reply, do not keep reaching out,” Conti says. “Don't take it personally, and just move on. “You really can't put too much [expectation into it.]"

So, shoot your shot, but don't go into it with high hopes or expectations — and if you don't hear back or you get rejected, let it go. Eventually, through a DM slide or not, you'll meet someone who feels like a perfect fit — but you're definitely not going to get there by bugging people who aren't. And worst case scenario, you might get blocked.

“After about three times of sending DMs with no response, it's not unlikely they'll just block you, because who wants to bother with a potential stalker?” Spira says. “You have to be fun and light about it.” That includes knowing when to call it quits.

And just for the record, if sliding into someone else's DMs scares you too much, there’s definitely a subtle workaround. Conti says that a common way people show their interest (and thus, get the other person to DM you first, if they're also interested) is by liking a few of their photos in succession. Just don't go overboard — two or three will do.

"If someone who is not as forward wants to go that route, liking a few photos is fine," Conti says, noting that it's just another way of showing that you're interested without being too direct about it. But hey, if you’re feeling confident, go ahead and send that flirty DM. Regardless of how it pans out, you’ll be proud of yourself for taking a chance.


Alessandra Conti, professional matchmaker and dating expert

Julie Spira, online dating expert and CEO of Cyber Dating Expert

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