A successful DM slide seems like an urban myth. Many have attempted it, but few of us have pulled it off flawlessly. It’s the triple Lutz of flirting—a move so difficult, only a true pro could nail it. Because if you proceed too quietly or cautiously, there’s a good chance you’ll get lost in the Instagram shuffle. But slide into a stranger’s DMs too aggressively, and—bam!—you’re bordering on predatory behavior. Yet, I’m constantly hearing of folks (or maybe more like folklore) whose DM game is incredibly strong. They use a good opener, get to chatting, and voilà! A relationship begins to flourish. Seemingly, there’s a right way to go about this—and an instruction manual sure would be nice. So, I tapped an expert.
“First of all, you have to prepare yourself for the situation where the person you’re DM-ing doesn’t respond,” says sexologist and relationship expert Megan Stubbs, EdD. “That chance decreases significantly if they have a huge following.” Alternatively, the chances increase if you two follow each other and are connected in some other way—like through mutual friends.
Then, take note of whether your social profiles are private, since that may affect whether or not a person responds to your DMs. “If a person you’re messaging can’t see who you are and what you’re about, they may think ‘stranger danger,’” Dr. Stubbs says.
Whatever you do, make sure you know when to back off. If your first message goes unanswered, accept defeat, move on, and never be the person who flips out over an unanswered DM.
And when it comes to the actual messages, always aim to be to be calm, cool, and authentic. In a completely unscientific poll of my own social media, I asked folks about their successful DM slides. The majority of respondents said a simple “hey” worked well. Even better, though, was if the DM was a response to something they already shared in a post or a story, like a concert they went to or an outfit they look cute in. “But don’t open up with something creepy,” Dr. Stubbs says. In other words, “sexy” is not an ideal icebreaker in the art of DM sliding. That’s gross. Instead, compliment their dog, applaud their cake-baking expertise, or send them a virtual high five for completing their first marathon.
Whatever you do, though, make sure you know when to back off. If your first message goes unanswered, accept defeat, move on, and never be the person who flips out over an unanswered DM. People are busy—or maybe the object of your affection just doesn’t dig you. Both are totally fine! If your social-media crush doesn’t have time to answer a message, they might not be in the right place to pursue anything anyway. Plus, there are plenty of profiles on the platforms and plenty of other DMs to slide into.
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