Forget about Tinder, Grindr, Her, Bumble, or whatever other apps you’re hitting up for all your dating needs. There’s another app that’s rapidly becoming a hotspot for digital flirting, whether you want it to be or not: Instagram.
In the past few months alone, my Instagram DMs have transformed from a desolate tumbleweed-filled vault into a rather busy inbox reserved especially for flirting purposes.
Rather than receiving unsolicited chat-up lines from strangers, these messages come from people I know and already follow on Insta. Like, former flames, friends-of-friends, even classmates I haven’t seen for 10+ years. And, depending on the person, these blasts from the past aren’t always unwelcome.
Rather than magically inboxing me out-of-the-blue, these DMs often appear after I’ve posted a photo on Instagram, or updated my story. If I’m travelling overseas, the Insta-flirter will DM me something related to the #humblebrag I just posted on my story. Sure, messaging me about my holiday to France could very well be a pretext—but, hey, it might not be an unwanted one.
Copywriter Scott Muska noticed people sliding into his DMs anytime he posted pictures on Instagram this summer. “They were never from strangers, but rather people I hadn’t heard from in a long time, or people who I didn’t know very well, more like acquaintances,” says Muska.
He interpreted these DMs as “reactionary” to the photos, rather than a spontaneous text or email to say “hello and we should catch up.”
“Like, ‘Oh, I haven’t thought of this person for years but I’ll say what’s up now, just in case they’re still single or whatever,'” says Muska. One message he received was from a woman from his hometown who said: “We should hang out if you’re home over Thanksgiving.” Muska sees the messaging as people trying to keep him on their “bench.”
As flirting goes, it’s not always people we know trying to get our attention. Jewellery designer Jane Cooper met her current boyfriend after he slid into her Instagram DMs. “I was on a train a few months back and recognised a guy a few seats away who kept looking at me,” says Cooper. “Later that night I got an Instagram DM from hot train guy.”
She says “hot train guy” had recognised her from an art fair and had searched for her on Instagram and decided to DM her. “Some of my friends think it’s creepy but I thought it was proactive! And now we are dating,” says Cooper.
While Insta DMs might be proving successful for some people, it’s also causing trouble for others.
Actor Jessica Grossman recently got married. But, since she started using Instagram stories more and more, she’s been receiving countless unsolicited messages from strangers. She receives messages like: “Lucky man, your husband ;-)”
“If I wasn’t married, I still wouldn’t really flirt back because it’s not like these messages are even that inviting, you know?” she said. “On IG, especially, I have yet to get a message that actually seems like someone is interested in me and more so seems like they’re just messaging lots of women until someone answers.”
Similarly, the practice of Tindstagramming is becoming more and more common. ICYMI, this creepy-ass new dating trend involves receiving Insta DMs from people you weren’t into on Tinder or Bumble. The unfortunate recipients of these DMs linked up their Instagram profiles to their dating apps, and thirsty swipers were thus able to track them down for DM-ing purposes. Some Tindstagrammers even feel the need to question why the recipient didn’t swipe right on them. Because that’s not weird at all.
Instagram DMs might be working out well for some people, but they can also be more trouble than they’re worth! With every blessing comes a burden, as they say.