In 2018, we have more dating app options than ever before. There’s the erstwhile fave OkCupid, the arguable GOAT Tinder, and even an app for couples seeking to add a third party into their bedroom.

However, enterprising singles around the world have discovered ways to use more traditional social networking apps to bolster their love lives — and in no place is this more evident than on Instagram.

The image sharing platform has more than 800 million users who use the app at least once a month. Some of them use it to showcase their fresh kicks; some for sharing awe-inspiring cityscapes; and some for doling out hilarious memes. Others, however, are lurking in the background, ready to pounce on the perfect moment to slide into your DMs in the hope of securing a date and potentially more.

While your DM game is certainly an important part of using the app to find new dates, it’s far from the only aspect you need to consider. Check out the best tips for how to use the 'gram to the advantage of your love life below.

K.I.S.S. — Keep It Subtle, Stupid

There are few things worse when navigating both the virtual and physical dating landscapes than having someone come on too strong and too fast. As such, you don’t want to scare off potential paramours by liking and commenting on every single one of their posts and obsessively responding to their stories.

Subtlety is key here: you want to both communicate your interest while also leaving more to be desired. One of the most enticing aspects of Insta-as-dating-app is that it injects some mystery back into it that clear-cut dating apps eliminate: does that "like" on your selfie mean what you think it means? Or did they just like the composition? Act accordingly and use likes sparingly.

Don't Be a Stranger

That being said, on Instagram, as in life, striking the balance between too much and too little is essential to success. While subtlety is key to attracting the interest of your IG match, being too aloof is just as much of a romance-killer on the 'gram as it is using any other dating medium.

You can do this formulaically, for example you could like one out of every three or four things your desired date posts. Or if that sounds too dull and calculated, just limit yourself to liking the photos you really like and commenting on the ones you really are into works pretty well. In other words, don't fake it.

Make Sure They're Local

With our many technological advents, the prospect of snagging a faraway hottie has never been more alluring. Nevertheless, if you really want a relationship (whether casual or otherwise) to pop off, ensuring that potential crushes live close by is essential. It's a simple, but often ignored, tip.

Master the Art of the DM Slide

Though sliding into the DMs isn’t the first step you should take, it’s one of the most crucial aspects of IG dating. As such, you need to make sure you’re prepared for both the worst and best-case scenarios.

Timing is key. One of the best ways to go about it on IG is by responding to someone’s story — it not only opens a direct message, but also creates an opportunity for topical conversation.

Here, as with most on and off-line forms of dating, you need to make sure you’re not merely complimenting your crush on their looks. Chances are you’re neither the first nor the last person to do so, so you need to be both respectful and clever.

Once that line of communication is open, you can make the normal smalltalk you’d make with someone you’re interested in. Don’t text too much, don’t take too long to respond, and definitely don’t get too sexual too soon. If they’re not interested, move on. This app is full of babes, and at least one of them will be right for you! Head here for more on DM sliding.

Set the Thirst Trap

To signal interest or attract a new boo, you need look no further than the curious form of post known as the “thirst trap.” Contrary to popular belief, thirst traps are less about showing off the most skin and more about getting the kind of response you want.

A thirst trap selfie taken in a bookstore can be as enticing to a potential date as one taken wearing very little on the beach. The former says, "oh look, I love books, please ask me about what I'm reading"; while the latter says, well, "take a look at this hot bod of mine." Depending on you and your "target," either options have the potential for success. Essentially, it's giving them an easy conversation starter.

Read the Writing on the (Digital) Wall

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not only looking to pursue a potential date, but that you’re open to being wooed as well. It’s possible that others have attempted to use the above tactics on you, but you haven't taken them for what they are. So next time you catch someone making these moves on you, check out their profile, and maybe send a like or two back in their direction.

And Remember: This Isn't Tinder

The instantaneousness of dating apps (Tinder and Grindr especially) can make the “long-form” courtships that occasionally still happen IRL seem to take forever. Instagram offers a happy medium between the two — but it’s still not typically as direct or immediate as dating apps. Not everyone is on the ‘gram to meet people the way they are on Tinder, and, as in entirely-IRL interactions, it’s not unheard of to have a flirtatious IG rapport only to learn your crush has an exclusive significant other.

Adapting to the pace can take a bit of time, but once you do, it ends up feeling more natural and less forced than matches made on Tinder — and given that I’m dating someone I met from a DM-slide right now, I promise it’s worth it.

Next up; here are the 8 best alternative dating apps.

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