Can you meet someone over social media in 2020?
For some of us, dating apps can be overwhelming. You may be one of those people who feel that there’s just too much choice—“who has the time for all this swiping!” Or on the other hand, someone who thinks there are too few options (cue that feeling when you realize you’re recognizing people you’ve seen on Hinge before…) You may also find it too impersonal; in 2012, Tinder famously launched with an algorithm that linked to your Facebook to show you people who are friends of friends, giving us a way to ask after our potential dates with our mutuals, but many apps don’t—something which might make you uneasy.
Over time, research has shown that dating app stigma has decreased. But if you fall into the pocket of people who aren’t on board, the good news is that there are alternative ways to meet people online. Take instagram—many of us who make up the app’s 1 billion global users spend considerable amounts of time on the platform (seriously, where does all that time go?) So while we’re there, it makes sense that we could also be flirting. Especially during a time when IRL socializing and dating is still largely off-limits. Below, some tips for meeting someone over Instagram.
Expand your circle
Instagram is a quick and easy way to look beyond the horizons of people you already know, while not having to meet up with a pure stranger. We’re all guilty of going down the rabbit hole of seeing someone tagged in a friend’s story or post and checking them out with a deep scroll. This makes sense: noticing someone in this way is reassuring because it indicates that they are peripheral to your social world and that you might just have met them anyway.
If you are attracted to someone over Instagram it’s time to (gently) assert yourself. Follow that person. They will follow you back if they are keen to lightly register their interest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean things could get romantic. According to a New York Times article, “Instagram Is Now a Dating Platform, Too. Here’s How It Works”, liking one picture might not send out a strong enough message but liking “three is, ‘I’m intentionally trying to get your attention.’ It’s the equivalent of eyeing someone in a bar.” Just make sure the pictures are recent. If the person reciprocates, there’s probably a mutual attraction.
Be interested and interesting
Replying to someone’s Instagram stories is a great way to take things to the next level and strike up a conversation, or at least, to find out if someone wants to strike up a conversation with you back. On an app that can be guilty of encouraging laziness—by which we mean every time we have responded to a friend’s big, important news with a simple, suggested emoji—what can stand out is making an effort.
So, reply to someone’s stories with a question about what they have posted. Dazzle them with your wit by engaging them in a fun, related conversation. Or send them something informative that they might find interesting. It’s easier to instantly DM people memes, informative posts, and incredible photos over Instagram than dating apps, so make the most of this feature (just not too often). For more advice on that, here’s our guide to sliding into someone’s DMs.
Watch out for the wrong Emoji
With every new update comes a whole minefield of new emojis. Instead of agonizing over whether you’re you a wink, fire sign and aubergine kind of person, or whether this is the right time for the coy blush face and flowers, remember that you don’t have to use any–there was a time before emojis ever existed and we seduced one another just fine without them.
Do some recon
The easy thing about dating apps is that people have signed up because they want to meet someone (granted, that doesn’t always mean they actually are available…) On Instagram, things aren’t always as clear. If you’re into somebody, have a look through their recent posts to gauge their relationship status, ask a mutual friend if they’re dating anyone, or pluck up the courage to ask them—tactfully—about whether they are dating anyone, which brings us on to…
Ask them out
If someone has made it clear that they’re interested, you’ve been maintaining good DM conversation with someone for a while, and if that person is religiously watching your Instagram Stories, it could be time to take things offline. Look at their grid posts for clues about what they’re into—an art exhibition, hiking, a simple drink—and ask them out accordingly.