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I decided to date someone who slid into my DMs, here’s what happened

WORDS BY SIENNA BARTON

“My friend recently just started dating someone that sent her an Insta DM and they’re infuriatingly happy, while other friends emphatically claim that ‘Dating apps are dead, people are meeting through their DMs’.”

It’s always deeply and profoundly disappointing when someone you’ve got a crush on ends up not being what you’d hoped they’d be. Feelings of giddiness and possibility are quickly replaced with defeat, as the sorely hoped-for next fuck slips right through your fingers. 

Aiden* first added me on Instagram a few months ago after seeing photos of me modelling on a local brand’s Instagram. He was cute, with a warm smile, and he named the traditional owners of the land he lives on in his profile bio – so I followed him back. And for a while, that was it. We’d sometimes like each other’s posts but, other than that, we didn’t talk until a couple of weeks ago.


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In the lead-up to the big election, I posted a lot of political memes and information on voting; just another progressive millennial encouraging other progressive millennials to do things they were going to do anyway. Aiden replied to one of these Instagram stories and we began messaging each other sporadically.

Then, when I was at a friend’s party, he sent me a random message about a photo of my dog, which felt like a good sign – it was an excuse to talk to me. I turned to my friends and said “I think this guy’s into me”, so they had a little stalk of his profile. “Oh, he’s hot,” slurred my friend. “I like him for you. Go for it!” 

Being, as I am, terribly shy and paralysed by insecurity, I did not go for it. Instead, I continued posting Instagram stories about TV shows I was watching and photos of cute flowers I’d seen that day. When season two of Russian Doll came out, I did an Insta story about watching the whole series from the very beginning.

A couple of hours passed, and my phone lit up with a notification. In glowing letters was a message that read, “Can I join you for season two?”. It was Aiden. I did that dumb little thing I do when I get excited, throwing my phone away from me in disbelief and making a sound that’s kind of like a garbled squeal. My response, on the other hand, read as cool and composed: “Yeah, I think that can be arranged. When are you free?”.

As a sex-positive, curvy person, I constantly receive Instagram DMs from strange men who want me to call them daddy – messages that I ignore before promptly blocking their senders. However, my friend recently just started dating someone that sent her an Insta DM and they’re infuriatingly happy, while other friends emphatically claim that “Dating apps are dead, people are meeting through their DMs”.

So it was with this in mind that I found myself considering something I hadn’t thought of doing before: actually dating a man who slid into my DMs. For reasons that couldn’t be controlled – him slammed with deadlines at work and me getting the flu – we couldn’t meet up during the weekend of Russian Doll’s release on Netflix, so we settled for being Insta penpals.

He asked me an array of questions, ranging from deep things like, why I live at home with my grandparents, and what my thoughts are on drug decriminalisation, to more risqué things like “What’s your favourite position?”.

To give a bit of context for that last one, I do this thing that I like to call ‘the implied nude’. Basically, it’s a glorified selfie where there’s the suggestion of some nudity but no actual nudity to be seen. For example, I might take a video where I’m wearing a bra and slowly slide the strap off my shoulder, cheekily cutting off the camera before my whole tit pops out.

I do this for a couple of reasons: mostly, I’m deeply anxious about revenge porn, but also I think there’s something sexy about the suggestion of nudity and what it lets the viewer do with their imagination. Personally, I’ve never received a photo of a hard dick that made me think, ‘Oh yeah, that turns me on’ but that’s just me. 

So, the other night I sent Aiden a video of me standing in my bathroom, about to have a shower. I was just chatting about something relatively benign but the camera was angled so that my face, bare shoulders and a little bit of cleavage were showing.

It sounds stupid, but within minutes he’d sent me a voice memo that ended with him saying “I believe you’re naked in your last video, and I’ve gotta say, it’s turning me on”. What followed was a bit of light sexting, and I won’t go into the specifics, but it was consensual and fun.

It was only the next day that I started to see the beginnings of a pink flag. We’d been joking about my Instagram presence as being a series of thirst traps (true) and he sent me a reel of an influencer dancing in a skimpy dress, along with the message, “This video is my second sexual awakening. I’ve watched it like ten times”.

I felt icky, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt, as so many insecure women do. After all, she looked incredible and I’d even watched the video a few times. Still, I brushed it off, reasoning that we all say stupid things sometimes.

The final nail in the coffin came the next night. It was Saturday night and I was watching Russian Doll when Aiden messaged me asking how my night was going (boring). When I asked how his night was going, he told me about a fun-filled night of watching televised sports, throwing in “But I did just get a message from someone I met in a bar, asking me to come over”. I was instantly uncomfortable.

He sensed my discomfort, so he followed it up with a “… little does she know, I’m happier watching the footy”. That didn’t make me feel better either, and I wondered what kind of response he was hoping to get from me – jealousy, intrigue, titillation? I just felt icky.

He quickly sent two more messages joking that he’d scared me off, totalling seven read but unanswered messages in a row. Maybe I’m being judgemental, but is it not bizarre to tell someone you want to date that someone else has just asked you for a root? Did he think it would increase his market value?

Years of dating arseholes, ranging from the mildly annoying to the truly insidious, has taught me that when I get that icky feeling, I need to get out. I’ve often ignored that little pinch in my gut, wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt and it’s landed me in some challenging situations.

I spoke to my friend on the phone before I replied, needing assurance that I wasn’t being unreasonable. I composed a message while we talked on loudspeaker and I hesitated before pressing send. I was disappointed to be ending things with Aiden before they’d even begun, but I know I made the right call.

Listening to my gut and acting on it is a radical act of self-care that I wouldn’t have been capable of before. In the past, I’ve talked myself into staying with guys who treated me horribly because I didn’t think I deserved better.

I’m sad for that girl who didn’t give herself a voice, and I’m proud that I finally asserted my boundaries. As for dating people who slide into my DMs? I reckon I’m still open to the possibility – as my friends say, it’s the way of the future. Dating apps are (supposedly) dead.

*Name has been changed.

For more on Instagram and dating, try this.

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