If there’s one thing I have no time for when it comes to dating, it’s those acutely aggressive individuals who simply won’t take no for an answer. IRL, these people are the bros at the bar who keep trying to buy you a shot or get your number, even though you turned them down the first time. On dating apps, they're the people who attempt to contact you outside of the app after you already swiped left. If you get Instagram DMs from people you rejected on dating apps, there are multiple ways to respond. Ultimately, figuring out which approach feels right for you depends on a few factors.
Some dating apps, like Tinder and Bumble, offer the option to link your Instagram to your user profile. Connecting your IG to your Bumble profile allows potential matches to see the 24 most recent photos you posted, and on Tinder, it allows swipers to see the most recent 34 photos. Even on other apps that don't have this feature, you might choose to include your Instagram handle in your profile because you feel like the limited text and photos you're allowed don't fully capture your personality. Maybe you've shared IG videos and images that you feel offer a deeper look at your interests, passions, lifestyle, and beliefs — and you want prospective dates to be privy to that info. After all, those are the kinds of things that can help in assessing your compatibility.
That said, offering a direct link to your IG account does increase the risk that randos — and not necessarily just people you've matched with — might reach out to you off the app. When someone you've swiped left on sends you a DM, it can feel like an invasion of privacy. Instead of accepting your rejection, they are attempting to use another outlet (Instagram) to hopefully "win you over." That shows a lack of regard for your feelings. It may feel flattering that they're going out of their way to contact you, and there might be rare special cases in which you change your mind about them. As a general rule, however, you probably don't want to date someone who doesn't respect your decisions — and that includes your decision to swipe left.
There are several ways you can handle this situation. You can do nothing, ignore their messages but block them, or respond to them in an attempt to gently let them down. Since there's no definitive right or wrong here, determining the best course of action will depend on your personal comfort level. Start by asking yourself: How irritated are you by the DM? If the message is harmless and you'd rather let your silence do the talking, you can certainly just leave them on read, but if you're offended by their aggressive move, you have the right to speak up.
Next, ask yourself whether you feel up to the task of educating this person on why their contact is unacceptable. If you do, it's best to keep your response super concise. The more direct you are, the less of an opportunity they'll have to keep the conversation going. Something blunt but polite should suffice — along the lines of: "Hey, I thought I made it clear I wasn't interested — I appreciate that I made an impression on you, but I haven't changed my mind, so please respect my decision." On the other hand, you may not feel like it's your responsibility to educate this person (which is so valid), meaning that responding would feel like a waste of energy. In that case, you have my full permission to serve up *crickets* in response to their DM.
If the unwanted message makes you uncomfortable on any level, you also have the option to block them. All you have to do is click on the little info button ( a lowercase "i") in the top right corner of the convo, and from there you can hit "block" or "report." Once you've blocked someone, not only will they be unable to contact you any further, but they will no longer be able to search for your profile or view your photos. So, whether or not you choose to respond, blocking that user might provide some added reassurance that you won't hear from them again (and that they won't be creepin' on your pics).
It's definitely more challenging for strangers to slide into your DMs if your Instagram is private and you don't include your handle in your dating app profile. Even if you don't put your handle on your profile and your account is public, users can still do a quick reverse image search on Google with the photos in your profile to potentially find your social media handles. (C'mon, it's OK to admit that you've indulged your own inner Joe from You to stalk a date online.) Keep in mind, though, that while setting your IG account to private will ensure that they can't see your posts on the 'Gram, it won’t make it impossible for them to message you through that platform. They can still send you a DM, which will appear as a request in your inbox until you essentially "approve" the conversation.
Let me be very clear: You reserve the right to keep your IG public and/or include your handle on your dating app profiles if you choose — and that doesn't mean you should have to put up with relentless suitors who can't take a hint. It's up to you whether or not you provide those overly determined daters with a response.
The bottom line is, if you think it will make you feel better to enlighten them on why their behavior is uncool, then by all means, go for it. But you don't owe them a response, because you already made your intentions clear when you rejected them on an app. It's not your problem that they haven't learned to deal with rejection in a mature, graceful manner, and it's not your job to teach them to do so. Your priority should be maintaining your own safety and comfort on social media and dating apps alike — and if you can keep that at the top of your mind, you'll no doubt be able to suss out a response (or lack thereof) that feels authentic to you.