Even if you consider yourself bold, confident, and an expert at flirting in person, sliding into someone’s DMs can be a whole other ball game. That’s especially true if it’s someone you’ve never met before and you’re going in knowing nothing about them other than what pics they’ve posted. But there’s an art to DM sliding, and we’re here to walk you through it thanks to help from relationship experts and psychologists. With just a little bit of practice, Instagram can feel like a brand new dating app—tons of potential and possibility await, you just have to know how to work it to your advantage!
Of course, it’s important to remember that just because you don’t need to match with someone on Instagram like you would on an app, doesn’t mean you should flood someone’s inbox if they don’t respond. Being respectful is key, and if they ignore or reject you, pat yourself on the back for giving it the old college try and move on. There are thousands of fish in the sea!
Now that that’s out of the way, if there’s someone whose photos caught your eye or whose profile found its way onto your Explore page, and you’ve been struggling to craft the perfect first message, we’re here to help. We reached out to experts to learn the best way to go about sliding in thoughtfully, cleverly, respectfully, and dare we say, confidently! Who knows? This might be your first message to the love of your life. Go forth and press send my friends!
Expert-Approved Tips for Sliding in the DMs
Create a Hook
Remember, if you’re sliding into someone’s DMs and this person doesn’t know you, it’s a good idea to present an engaging hook—aka, a reason for them to write back to you. eharmony relationship expert Laurel House says it can be helpful to ask yourself: What would be interesting and make you interested?
“Don’t send a throwaway message like ‘hi,’ ‘what’s up,’ ‘you’re hot,’ or ‘thanks for accepting my friend request.’” says House. “Those are statements, not conversation starters.” Instead, look at the person’s profile and comment on or ask a question about a theme, style, or certain photo on their page.
Find Something You Can Relate To
If you see a photo of a pet, a certain coffee shop, or a sports team, try asking a question about it, and then include yourself in the statement as well. Something like, “I couldn’t help but notice how cute your dog is! I have a black lab, what’s your favorite dog park in the area?”
If they live somewhere you’re planning to visit, ask them for recommendations. If they went to your alma mater, ask them what year they graduated. Find things you have in common and use them to connect. And of course, it goes without saying that if they look like they’re coupled up with someone—aka, they’ve posted the same person multiple times in various couply situations like weddings and vacations together—they’re probably not single and you’re better off finding someone who is!
Once you’ve sent your message, go about your day business as usual. “Be all-in, unattached,” says House. “Engage in your initial outreach and put effort into the comment and question. But once it’s sent, forget about it (until they respond). That way you aren’t holding your breath until they read and respond.”
Ask for Their Advice
“When you ask for someone’s advice or insight, when they answer they are actually investing in you,” explains House. “They are more likely to think about you and wonder what you did with the piece of advice that they gave you.” This also creates an opportunity to check back in with the person and let them know how that advice landed.
House says you can craft this type of message based on the type of photos you see on the person’s page. If they posted a delicious pasta dish, ask what type of recipe they used because you’re bored of your typical buttered noodles. “Maybe it’s even saying that you’re single and looking through your wardrobe for great first date outfits and wondering if this is a good choice,” says House. “Then send a photo mirror selfie in a first date outfit.”
Use an Icebreaker
Down to play a game? New York City-based neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez, director of Comprehend the Mind, suggests using something like “two truths and a lie” as an icebreaker. “It fosters a fun and interactive atmosphere, encourages sharing, and provides an opportunity for participants to learn interesting facts about each other,” she says.
Plus, it gives you both the opportunity to keep talking and go back and forth. You'll never run out of things to talk about if you're taking turns!
This can be one of the most challenging parts of sliding into the DMs, but remember, confidence is sexy!
“You're interested to see if you’re interested,” explains House, meaning you should approach the conversation from the perspective of “I wonder if I’ll like them,” and not “I hope they like me.”
“You don’t know them yet, so there’s no reason to build them up in your mind and create a fantasy of how great they are in real life,” says House. “That being said, if they don’t respond or if they respond by saying something cold or rude, that says more about them than it says about you. They have shown you that they are cold and rude, so no reason to have any more interest in knowing more.”
How to Move the DM Into a Real-Life Meeting
House says that doing so can take the pressure off of the other person. Try something like: “I’m really enjoying our conversation and would love to know more… I would love to exchange numbers, or whatever makes you comfortable, so we can talk on the phone or text? My number is…”
You’ll know instantly what they’re thinking based on their response—even if they chose not to meet up IRL.
Another way to slide in your digits is to provide them in response to something you’re both talking about. Try, “OMG, that’s a crazy story…would love to hear more via text! Want to shoot me a message? My number is…” or, “I could talk about [insert topic here] forever—want to chat IRL? Text me at…”
Find a Natural Opportunity to Meet IRL
When you’ve mastered sliding into the DMs and the conversation is flowing, it’s time to take things offline and meet IRL. Dr. Hafeez suggests finding a natural segue into future plans or continued communication. For instance, “you can suggest meeting up for coffee, creating a context for exchanging numbers. Or you could simply say, ‘Would it be alright if I got your number? I'd love to continue our conversation.’"
If you asked them for restaurant recommendations, suggest visiting one together IRL. If you asked for a recipe suggestion, ask them if they’d be down to make dinner together sometime. If there’s anything you’ve talked about in your DMs that can translate into a fun IRL meeting, suggest it!
No matter what you decide to run with, remember to be proud of yourself for at least shooting your shot. Even if it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it to, think of it like this: Each time you slide into the DMs or try to ask someone out, you’re gaining valuable experience. You’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t, and hey, you might even connect with someone super interesting along the way. It’s a win-win!