Nearly every day, Indigo Rancourt wakes up to a new Instagram message request. And though they come from a wide range of people she’s never met, who live all over the globe, the message sent is almost always the same: “Hey. I added u off tinder, hope that’s not too creepy lol.”
Rancourt, like most women on Tinder who have the unfortunate pleasure of being into dudes, is the victim of one of modern dating’s newest trends: Tindstagramming.
The act of sneaking into someone’s Instagram DMs after failing to match with them on Tinder.
If you’re unfamiliar with Tinder, it works like this: You’re presented with a person’s profile, and you choose to swipe left, to dismiss, or right, to match. If you both swipe right, you can message each other. If you don’t both swipe right, you can’t. Tindstagramming happens when someone — almost always a guy — decides to subvert that cardinal rule, by leaving the app and taking his creepy DMs to Instagram.
The phenomenon has its roots in a new feature announced in April of 2015, when Tinder first allowed users to link their Instagram accounts to the app. On its face, the move seemed pretty inoffensive — now you could wow potential matches with your expertly curated grid, great! — but in practice, the change ushered in a new era for the app. Previously, Tinder had been pretty surprisingly decent at keeping its users anonymous — the only thing you knew about your potential date was their first name, general employment or education info, and whatever was revealed through their short (and usually terrible) bio. If you didn’t match with someone, it was practically impossible to find them off the app. But with the advent of Instagram support, the jaded and matchless finally had another option.
Why would you go to so much trouble to message someone who’s already indicated that she’s not interested? The Tindstagrammer knows that the person he’s contemplating Super Liking will probably never match with him, but the issue is that he vehemently believes it’s not his fault. “Tinder profile[s], most of the time, don’t provide enough information for you to find common ground with the other person,” Daniel Elf, a Tindstagrammer from Tel Aviv, explained to me. “[But] when sending an IG message, I can show myself — as my Instagram is a layer in an internet persona [that] I consciously built.”
“Usually, it’s some dude saying he saw me on Tinder and thinks I’m hot,” Madison Killian, who goes by @maaaaaadiison on Twitter, told me about her Tindstagram messages. “They definitely come across as super douchey, and obviously don’t respect boundaries when they message you even though you didn’t match. The one that I did respond to, he got so angry that I turned him down that he wrote a fake Craigslist ad and posted my Instagram, and I woke up to like 15 horny dudes messaging me.”
Unfortunately, this is far from the first case of Tindstagramming gone wrong. “At first, it seemed very harmless, just a sweet guy who was very interested in me,” Katie Meuser, a Tinder user from Chicago told me about one of her latest Tindstagramming experiences. “I told him that I was flattered, but I didn’t want to meet him, but he kept sending me messages and not respecting the fact that I said no. He kept explaining that he was a romantic and not creepy.” The unwanted messages kept on coming for over two years, until Meuser finally bit the bullet and blocked the guy this July.
“The first time it happened, I was honestly shocked,” Rancourt confessed to me. “I didn’t think this actually happened — that people honest to god thought DM-sliding from Tinder was gonna be the way to, what, get laid? Fall in love? I don’t know what they’re looking for, but it’s not coming from me.”
Mike, an NYC-based Tindstagrammer who preferred to stay anonymous, told me that he’s actually gotten dates from these blind messages. He used to write down girls’ Instagram handles before swiping right on them, so he could follow up with a DM if they didn’t match, a method he said worked for him about “2 to 3 times out of 30.” “Part of good game is not giving a fuck and doing everything you can to meet women,” he explained. “The No. 1 reason [it’s so common] is probably because it’s easy. Yes, it’s ineffective, but it’s so low effort that it’s hard to justify not doing it if you are committed to doing everything you can to meet girls.”
This is the root of the problem. If Tinder were to do away with linked Instagram accounts tomorrow, the problem wouldn’t be fixed. If Instagram removed DMs, nothing would change. Tindstagramming doesn’t happen simply because it’s easy, or because the app’s algorithm is subpar; it happens because a lot of guys (both online and IRL) still don’t trust in a woman’s ability to say no and mean it. Tindstagramming isn’t a problem with Instagram, or even with Tinder — it’s a problem with men.