A few weeks ago, I had the honor of hosting an event in New York City called “Slide in Their DMs IRL”, produced by I Don’t Do Clubs and featuring a panel of outspoken Black Millenials. Pop culture references about direct messages, such as Yo Gotti’s 2016 hit, “Down in the DM” and even the normalization of the term, “slide into the DMs” suggest that most young folks are comfortable using technology for their romantic (or purely sexual) endeavors. The discussion, however, came to a different conclusion.
Many people are still hesitant and frankly uncertain when it comes to navigating DM dating. The reason is simple, while anecdotal stories about outlandish pick up lines, lusty scenarios and even finding true love are entertaining, they don’t offer a blueprint on how to land a win when you’re not aiming for adult film screenshots or a rom-com moment.
Using DMs to your advantage is easier than you think.
Looking to achieve real success in the DM game? Here are some practical tips to elevate your technique.
Take the Time to Get Right
Identified your target? Great. Now spend an afternoon reviewing your social media profile before you reach out. Make sure your pictures look right—delete unbecoming images and captions. Get your bio caption together. Edit your LinkedIn page. The first thing someone will do after you reach out is…look you up—that will be your official hello. Make sure it sells everything you have to offer.
Don’t ask about business, a mutual friend or for a recommendation to something random when what you really want is a date. You think you’re easing into things, but you’re really protecting your ego from rejection—and confusing the person on the other end. Make it clear from the jump that you are interested in a d-a-t-e. Ask whether the person is single, offer a non-sexual compliment and make your request—a date, a call, more texts. Take decisive action.
Be a Decent Human
Don’t let the screen and keys desensitize you to the truth: There is a real person on the other end. Treat this interaction with the same level of respect and boundaries you’d offer the person if you were meeting for the first time in real life. Remember, charm, sarcasm and humor don’t translate well via text so leave the wit for the IRL meet-up.
Limit the Level Up’ing
If there is someone you feel you’d have a genuine connection with (creatively, professionally, interest-wise) who catches your eye, great, reach out. But messaging people who are clearly not a fit (re: out of your league) is fan mail. You increase your chances of success by selecting people who will be excited to hear from you due to mutual attraction, interests, etc.
Silence or Ghosting = Nah
As in real life, everyone you like won’t like you. It’s her or his loss. Your crush is not obligated to respond to you. Silence, or even ghosting after initial contact, is effective communication—it’s a no. While rejection doesn’t feel good, it is part of taking the risk. If you don’t hear back after one or two texts back off.
Move to IRL ASAP
Best-case scenario, the person you’re admiring is feeling you too, now what? Avoid the trap of staying in the DM abyss by setting up a real-life meet up as soon as possible. The ideal first encounter is something that offers the flexibility to cut the interaction short if something feels off when you meet face-to-face. Set up a coffee or drink date in an area that also allows for quick and fun options for lunch or dinner, or to check out shops or events. If the date is going well, upgrade to a longer option and if it’s a struggle or disappointment, politely cut things short after the drink.
Tia Brown is a licensed therapist, life coach and journalist who specializes in real life, practical tips that work. Follow her on IG @tiabrowntalks.