The issue is as old as social networks themselves: you want to charm a fellow user on a given site, but you don’t have their phone number, Kik username, or... I dunno, AIM handle?

So, there appears to only be one option left on the path to true love: send them a direct message, or, in more popular vernacular, slide into the DMs.

While it’s true that some people do find love in the DMs, there’s an equal if not higher chance that your sexy (or casual) message will be a flop in the eyes of your potential paramour.

To avoid the latter scenario, read on to discover the do’s and don’t of sliding into the DMs, and decide for yourself what the best approach is with your internet crush:

DO Show Non-DM Interest First

While sliding into the DMs is definitely a good way to communicate that you’re into someone, you can also show them this by liking and commenting on their posts. That way, you’re not a total rando weirdo when you do finally hit “send” on that first DM.

DON’T Like All Their Stuff

It’s important to show interest before sending that DM — but if you go through and like 10 photos from two years ago, that comes off très creepy, and not cute at all.

People want to know you’ve noticed them, not that you’re stalking them. Don’t be that guy.

DO Take the Plunge

If you’re considering whether or not it goes down in the DMs, you’re already halfway there — but taking that final step and actually sending that flirty direct message is the only way to make it happen in this scenario.

So muster up your courage — but only after reading on to make sure you’re not sounding like a total jerk.

DON’T Get Sexual Too Soon

It doesn’t matter who the person you’re trying to internet romance is — you should never start off the conversation with anything sexual.

No matter how “good” your intentions may be, starting that interaction with something gross and sexual is way more likely to turn them off than on.

Seriously, almost everyone hates getting random messages from strangers about sexual stuff, and it seems incredibly unlikely that your perfectly-crafted DM sext is going to change that anytime soon.

DO Compliment Them on Something Non-Physical

We get it — you think this person is hot, and that’s likely why you’re sliding into their DMs. While that approach certainly can make some headway with certain people (especially if the object of your affection is a dude), it’s not easy to sustain that sort of rapport.

Figure out something else to compliment them on, whether it’s their killer sense of fashion, their music, that shirt they’re wearing in that one pic, whatever.

DON’T Go After Someone Who’s in a Relationship

It should go without saying, but you really, really shouldn’t try to get with someone who’s in a relationship. If you just really need them to know you think they’re fly, let them know, but don’t expect an equally-flirtatious response.

If they do seem interested, bring it up — they could be in an open relationship, or they could be a dog. It’s better to get that stuff out in the open.

DO Use Mutuals to Your Advantage

If you and your DM crush have friends in common, you have an instant in. Rather than asking them how they know so-and-so, tell them a funny story about that person, or confide in them that you think that mutual is really cool or smart. If all else fails, you can always use the classic “Woah, you know them too? Small world!” Works every time.

DON’T Expect a Response From a Celebrity

Not all DM-sliding is created equal, and attempting to woo a celebrity (both the red carpet kind and the Instagram kind) via DM is much easier said than done.

If they have more than 500 followers, it’s very likely that you’re not the first (or the second, or the tenth) person to try to slide into their DMs, and therefore, it’s likely you won’t get a response.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send that bold DM, but it does mean that you should have healthy expectations for what could come of it. It’s kind of like hitting on a model in a bar: it's fine to do it, but preparing for rejection (or, in this case, being ignored) is wise.

DO Respectfully Make Your Intentions Clear

After exchanging a message or two, it’s more than acceptable to let someone know that you’re into them if the timing seems right.

Let them know you think they’re a babe, but don’t put a lot of pressure on them to reciprocate. If they’re feeling it, they’ll let you know!

DON’T Keep Up a Boring Conversation

So you’ve slid into the DMs, and things are… not what you hoped. Let’s face it: sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

Don’t keep the conversation up just to keep talking to them, and don’t invest too much time or energy in a convo that’s going nowhere.

DON’T, Under Any Circumstances, Keep Messaging if They Stop Responding

We’ve all been there: the conversation seems to be going just fine, and then the other person just disappears.

Being ghosted totally sucks, but sending consecutive messages trying to get their attention is annoying and more than a little bit creepy.

If they stop responding, chalk it up to bad luck or disinterest and get back on Tinder like everyone else — but whatever you do, do NOT blow up their DMs. That has never, ever worked.

DO Take It Out of the DMs Eventually

Typically, the goal of DMing someone is to hang out with them IRL, so if the conversation seems to be going well, you should definitely take that next step and ask them out.

If you don’t live in the same city, this can be a bit trickier, but the logical next step in that situation is to add each other on Facebook or something similar.

Either way, taking things out of the DMs is a good way to leave the world of thirst monsters and enter the world of everyone else conducting conversations on other mediums.

DON’T Have Any Expectations

When you have a crush on someone, it’s easy to fantasize about an ideal outcome – whether that outcome includes marriage or tousled bedsheets is another story. But, in the world of DMs, there’s no way of knowing what can happen.

In many ways, social media is like the wild, wild west, and truly anything can go down in the DMs — but a lot of the time, nothing comes of it at all.

You definitely shouldn’t expect failure, but you also shouldn’t expect the best-case scenario either. That way, you won’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t work out, but also will be pleasantly surprised if it does.

Everyone has heard DM success stories — from the people who began dating their DM crushes to those, like me, who got complimented by their third favorite rapper after sliding into their DMs, it seems that sending that direct message is worth the relatively minor risk of putting yourself out there on the anonymous web.

Follow the tips above, and it should be smooth sliding — or at the very least, shouldn’t result in too much embarrassment.

Now check out the common Tinder mistakes you might be making.

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