But the way we meet and form authentic connections is changing. There are plenty of success stories -- from regular folks, too. When Allison Arnone, a 36-year-old at a market research firm in New York, met her fiancé Leo on Twitter back in May 2017, she was so over the dating scene. She’d been tweeting about her less-than-successful experience with a man when Leo hit her radar. “I actually posted a screenshot of an unpleasant text exchange I had with someone I had gone on a few dates with, and included a funny caption; Leo retweeted it with a few heart-eye emojis,” Arnone explained. “I was taken aback at his reaction, since my original tweet wasn’t exactly pro-guy or pro-dating for that matter, so I responded to him with a simple, ‘You like that??’ And then he slid into my DMs.”
Arnone said they were complete strangers at the time; Leo saw her tweet, because a friend liked it and it showed up in his timeline. She remembers him saying something like: We should meet for a drink and trade dating horror stories. She blew him off at first. But, she tells me, as they kept DMing every day for three weeks, she slowly changed her mind. “He did keep asking me out in a sort of half-joking way,” she says. “I ended up saying to him during one of our exchanges, ‘You should probably ask me out again.’ And he did.”
Others are more intentional in their approach. Jeremy Buckley, 33, from Philadelphia, first saw his now-girlfriend on Bumble, a dating app where women have to send the first message. She had her Instagram handle in her profile, so he popped over to there to check her out. He quickly realized they had a ton in common.
Knowing the black hole many dating app messages can fall into -- and that his dream woman may never reach out to communicate -- Buckley decided the DM-slide was more novel. “I didn’t want to take the chance that she wouldn’t respond on Bumble,” he said. “I led by basically showing interest in a film she was involved with that’s trying to bring awareness to sex trafficking here in America. I work with a nonprofit that helps orphanages in Kenya, so I am very familiar with that world.”
The Friday night DM led to a conversation on Saturday and then a coffee date on Tuesday. “Coffee turned into lunch, and then the next night we went out to dinner,” Buckley said. They just traveled to Kenya to visit orphanages this past month.
While a lot of DM-sliding is from stranger-to-stranger, it’s also a great way to keep up with your crush’s life. You don’t have to go straight for the date-invite. Start by acknowledging what you have in common and let it build from there. Charlotte Droney, 29, had met her now-boyfriend a couple of times while she was in a relationship. After a breakup, she began following him on Instagram and discovered they were both foodies.
When she saw just the right photo, she took her shot. “He posted a story of a delicious lobster roll he was having for lunch, and I began my DM campaign,” Droney said. “I, too, was at lunch and working on my third beer with my co-worker and bestie, when I responded ‘That looks like the best damn thing I have ever laid eyes on. And I want it.’ ” Two hours later, he volleyed back. Some flirty banter eventually led to an exchange of numbers, and the pair met up in person about a month later.
The stigma around a DM slide has waned over time. A decade ago, Jenny Grant Rankin, 47, almost did not message her now-husband Lane on Facebook, because she deemed the mode a little aggressive. She says she loved a product Lane was working on and thought he “seemed wonderful,” but waffled on making a move.
A friend gave Jenny the push she needed to him a message praising his product and making a joke. They ended up going out a few weeks later. For their first Valentine’s Day, Rankin turned their DMs into a book for Lane to fondly remember how their love story began. The pair eloped less than a year after meeting, tying the knot at San Francisco City Hall, just like Rankin’s parents did in the 1960s. “I love that we met this way,” she said, noting that she completely sidestepped the horrors of traditional online dating. “I could feel this escalating, and it felt right.”
Similarly, Droney loves the way it all began for her, her boyfriend and his gorgeous lobster rolls -- and she encourages people waiting for an IRL organic moment to instead seize opportunities online. “There are so many people online; why not?” Droney said. “What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t try, you never know what could be. And if you’re shy, you really can hide behind the screen and just go for it in a way that may be too intimidating in person.” She said her boyfriend eventually copped to being too shy to go for it with her in real life; the DM exchanges she initiated gave him the boost he needed.
Maybe the DM is a middle ground between contrived online dating messages and serendipitous meetings in the wild. Arnone said that she’d just missed her fiancé on several occasions in real-life settings. “Leo and I grew up pretty close to one another on Long Island and know for sure of several instances in our pasts where we were at the same place at the same time,” Arnone said. “The fact that we didn’t actually meet until we were in our mid-30s, and on Twitter, is funny to me.”
But she loves it. She and Leo still send each other Twitter DMs during their workdays.
People like to say that technology has killed the meet-cute. Perhaps we just haven’t expanded our definition of it yet.