Between dating apps and social media, it feels like everyone is meeting online these days. When was the last time you met an actual human in an actual bar?
If everyone is meeting online, where the scope of people to choose from is dauntingly limitless, what are the rules for messaging a person you’re into?
There are so many different social media platforms out there that a new guide for DM-ing feels in order. Eighty-three percent of Millennials at least have a Facebook account, and 44 percent are on Instagram. New world, new information. So here’s what you need to know about sliding into the DMs without being weird or creepy about it.
Don’t comment on a person’s appearance
Don’t comment on their looks. At all. In any way. This is the first rule of DM-ing anything to anyone. This sends the message that you are creepy. Immediately. Don’t. Seriously. It doesn’t matter how good-looking you are; when your recipient — especially if she’s a woman — sees a message about how beautiful or hot they are, they probably won’t be down.
“I find DM messages to be much more inviting when someone shows that we’ll have something in common to talk about, rather than just my physical appearance,” says Lorrae Bradbury, a sex expert, consultant, and founder of Slutty Girl Problems.
How do you do that? Pay attention to detail. Look at their posts. Read them. Which brings us to…
Look for commonalities on their social media
Steer clear of messages like, “Hey sexy.” Instead, take a sweep over the person’s pictures or tweets and look for things you have in common. You want to come across as genuinely interested in their life.
Does she post a lot of pictures with her dog? Does he seem to be in the great outdoors on the reg? Is she into working out? Is he interested in yoga? Find those threads and work with them.
“Send an opener like, ‘Seeing you and your dog’s pic totally made my day! Thank you!’ or ‘What a superwoman you are! I just hiked Bryce Canyon last week, and I know how tough it can be. Respect!’ says Mal Harrison, a sexologist and director of the Center for Erotic Intelligence. “This way, you’re not demanding a response, and you’re being respectful and appreciative.”
This isn’t someone in a bar or at a party. You want to establish a friendly connection and make it clear you’re a real, genuine person while peaking their interest by paying attention. Anyone can say, “Hey babe. Nice booty” and “we get that lame basic stuff all the time,” Harrison says. You want to stand out.
Keep it real
Avoid mass-produced messages that sound like they’re coming off a conveyor belt. Your recipient may receive DMs on the regular. If so, they know when you’re sending a run-of-the-mill line you shoot off to every cute person you see. It gets boring.
“Avoid pick-up lines, or anything from a pick up artist website,” Bradbury says. “They might sound funny and clever, but we’ve heard them a million times. They’re not original, and make you sound like a player who’s sending copied lines.”
Be genuine and send messages that are tailored to the person you’re speaking to. A personalized message shows you’re respectful and your interest is real.
Bradbury adds that if your profile is private, you should make it public. “We’re more likely to respond to someone who we can verify is a real person, and see if we have some shared interest and mutual attraction.”
If they’re into it, you’ll know
If you’re an Instagram DM-er, you know that the “Decline” button exists. If that happens, well, you know they’re not down.
If you have a chat going with a person, ask questions and listen to their answers. “Once she [or he] responds, then start asking [them] questions about [their] biggest passions or favorite experiences pertaining to the conversation,” Harrison says.
It’s pretty simple: Read the words they’re sending you, and respond to them. Offer your perspective, or a story from your life that is contextually relevant. This is not a Rubix cube, it’s a person.
If they’re interested in you, they will respond. That’s all there is to it. If the conversation seems to lacking, take a look at the responses you’re getting: “If they’re short one word responses after you’ve started asking questions, chances are, [they’re] not into it,” Harrison says.
What if you have a conversation going and they disappear? Bradbury says to simply make like Elsa and let it go: “It might be tempting to keep reaching out to show that you’re interested — but, on social media, less is more. Wait for them to respond, rather than messaging them every time they posts a story update.”
Getty ImagesCristiano Babini
Taking it from the DMs to IRL
Listen to your gut. See how the conversation goes, and if you’re vibing, you can go ahead and ask them out. Harrison suggests coffee or a tea along with an invitation to “swap stories” about all the things you have in common.
Bradbury says to take the conversation offline within the first few days. “Offer to exchange numbers or Snapchat, or show them another social media profile to vouch that you’re a real person,” she says.
If the person isn’t interested, move on. It happens. If they are, go have that coffee date with your Instagram-Dream and find out what happens next.
Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.
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