There’s a feeling in dating today that it’s become a game, specifically musical chairs. Every time the music stops, a couple of gorgeous specimens pair off while the rest of us wade through round after round, trying to find someone without too many warts (both physically and mentally). Truthfully, whenever I fail to match with a seemingly cute, witty girl it hurts the ego more than I care to admit. But whenever I feel bad about myself and wonder what I’m doing wrong, I do manage to find some guys so pathetically incompetent I think, “Whew, at least I’m not that stupid.”
Today, I learned something I did not know about in the online dating scene: “Tindstagramming.” According to New York Magazine, Tindstagramming is “[t]he act of sneaking into someone’s Instagram DMs after failing to match with them on Tinder.” As the article lays out, many guys and gals link their Instagram handles to their dating profiles in Tinder or Hinge. This allows some industrious, would-be sleuths to take down the potential match’s handle while swiping and then DM her after the cold truth that she’s just not that into you settles in.
I’ll admit, my immediate reaction was a combination of incredulously, but also a hint of admiration. I mean, I’ve never thought of doing this. It’s almost impressive how these guys are putting in this much extra effort to find someone to date. But after about two seconds of wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that,” the duh-est of all answers popped into my head. I didn’t think to do this because it’s incredibly fucking creepy.
I mean, holy shit, how the hell do you think a girl is going to react when some stranger who they probably don’t even remember swiping right left weeks ago messages them on Instagram. I mean, just adding a stranger you saw on Insta seems sketchy. Actually messaging her? I’d half expect this girl to lock herself in her panic room until the SWAT team does a room-by-room sweep of her house.
Fascinatingly, some guys admitted in the article to doing Tindstagramming somehow thinking that this tactic is understandable and will be taken with nonchalance. They have justifications such as “Tinder profile[s], most of the time, don’t provide enough information for you to find common ground with the other person. [But] when sending an IG message, I can show myself — as my Instagram is a layer in an internet persona [that] I consciously built.” Oh wow, of course! Fine, dude. Totally understandable except for the fact that you can link your goddamn Instagram account to your Tinder! You know, like what that girl to allow you to track her down like you’re Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Tinder doesn’t allow you to provide enough information? You have, like, 8 pictures and a whole bio to convey what you want a potential match to see. If you can’t convey your personality in that much space, you are just not interesting, buddy. And if you’re really having trouble deciding which pic of you holding that 25-pound bass you reeled in during your buddy’s bachelor party two years back, link your Insta and let girls who are on the fence have a gander.
The article, of course, also comes complete with a ton of messages from Nice Guys who “saw you on Tinder and just wanted to say hey,” then get politely turned down, and immediately become the snarling asshats that they were deep down inside. And they wonder why they get so few matches on these apps? Probably because girls all like jerks and friendzone you, right? Not at all because you can’t recognize that this is just one of the many creepy behaviors girls pick up on.
In fairness to these guys, I am someone who often overthinks things and misreads signals. Even though this is a boundary I would not dare cross (and even if it did cross my mind as a good idea, I wouldn’t have the audacity to do it), I can understand these guys’ mindsets. Maybe she accidentally left-swiped me, they think. They picture this as a digital age “meet cute” as they message back and forth. She likes his hobbies, he likes the books she’s reading. They get to know each other. She eventually agrees to go out with him. And then they fall in love and at their wedding, she’s tearing up talking about how thankful she is that he was the guy who took the chance for her.
Do I think it’s rational or even sane? Nope. Do I know guys (and, let’s be fair, some girls) who think like this? For sure.
I, ever the contrarian, even tried to even think up a scenario where this method could be possibly workable. The best I could do is messaging a girl saying you accidentally swiped her left but liked [insert specific thing from her profile that’s NOT something physical or ethereal bullshit] and really wanted to not miss the opportunity. You would have to have huge, brass balls, a ton of self-deprecating wink-wink charm, and the delicacy to really pull back and let her dictate the flow of the conversation to even have a prayer. Best case scenario for 99% of guys is that you will just get blocked instantly.
Now, there is one massive criticism that must be leveled against this article, specifically when talking to one of these Tindstagrammers. Mike, who writes down girls Instagram handles to DM them when they don’t match him (and definitely does not print out pictures of them before making a weird collage that covers all the walls of his bedroom, he said while shifting his eyes back and forth quickly) says that this method works “2 to 3 times out of 30.” Then again, his perspective is slightly warped because he says the key to this working is “not giving a fuck,” completely missing the irony that a girl will know you gave enough of a fuck to copy down her Instagram!
But my question is: why, WHY would the writer print this? It’s clear from the article that she, and the ladies interviewed, are rightly disgusted by the practitioners of this desperate art. So why would you point out that it has a 10% success rate? That sounds pretty good to a guy who might just be desperate enough to stoop to this sort of tactic.
The fact that any girls are allowing this to work and this writer would point out that it has ever worked just encourages more creepy dudes to try to backdoor their way in through the DMs. All guys suck, but not all guys are creeps. And the creeps know no boundaries. Do not put ideas into their heads because if they think it will get them laid they will do it.
That is why my advice (beyond not linking your Tinder and Instagram accounts, not being on Tinder, or even reconsidering if you want to date one of the infinite scumbags that have an X and Y chromosome) is to be harsh. If you left swiped them no, it’s a no. One girl interviewed for this article told a guy right from the start of his Tindstagramming attempt that she was flattered, but not interested, but he kept messaging her for two years before she finally blocked him. Look, I don’t want to victim blame, and this guy is clearly a dolt with no social acumen, but that is one year, eleven months, and twenty-nine days too long.
Ladies, if you get a guy creeping into your DMs and you’re still not interested, do NOT feel bad about ignoring the message. Block him right off the bat, the second he starts to creep you out. Report him to Instagram, even, if he keeps persisting. Understand that these guys are desperate, unaware creeps who want female attention wherever they can get it. As much as it sucks, your read notification might be the only contact with a female he’s had in months or years. Don’t feel sorry for them, do not feed these trolls, and don’t let them have the dignity of existing in your world.
For all the guys out there who are not doing this, first of all, good job in mustering up the tiniest bit of restraint, respect, and social awareness. But make sure any of your dude friends who might be participating in this bad fad stop immediately. Guys already have a bad name, and for good reason, but we don’t need these doorknobs dragging our already soiled name through, even more, thicker mud.
And if any of you out there are Tindstagrammers, or are now thinking of engaging in the practice (why the hell would they tell us that this has ever worked, even once??), I know there’s nothing I can say to make you stop. But please know I speak for everyone when I say just stop. This shouldn’t work, and you’re dumb for ever thinking it was a good idea. Just insert the Michael Jordan “Stop…get help” gif right here so you can look at it whenever you have this horrible instinct.