Tinder was designed to make arranging dates fuss-free. Thing is, for women who sleep with men, using the app is a true act of labour. Finding a suitable guy takes hours of left swiping if you're at all particular about who you want to meet, which is bad enough in itself – but lately there's a new thing making the whole affair even more tedious: Tindstagramming. That's a term coined in a recent Select All article for men tracking down a woman who left-swiped them and sliding into their Instagram DMs.
The reason men can do this with ease is because Tinder has slowly given people more options to personalise their profile. In 2015, it was made possible to link your Instagram account to your profile, so users can see some of your recent posts and click through to Instagram directly for more. This is ideal for the many people who want to meet someone for more than just a single fuck, or those who need more to turn them on than just someone's physical appearance. It's also just nice to see your potential match in tagged photos so you have a better idea of who it is you're going to meet.
All of that is fine, since the entire premise of Tinder is that you don't have to talk to anyone you don't match with. But now there's another method of contact available – Instagram DMs – entitled guys can make excuses for being rejected and demand a back-and-forth with uninterested women. Maybe she left-swiped by mistake, they think. Maybe she's playing hard to get and what looked a simple "no" is in fact an invite to engage in a cheeky war of attrition.
Lizzie from Berlin says the Instagram messages she receives from Tinder rejects essentially boil down to: "Hey, I found you on Tinder, how's it going, do you wanna hang out?" i.e. the same chat they would have had with you had you not binned them initially. Sometimes they proceed to like "about 20" of your pictures to draw further attention to them.
For her it was a frequent enough occurrence to unlink Instagram from her Tinder. "I linked it originally because it's a quick way to give more of an impression of you as a person rather than write an essay on your profile; to be, 'Hey, I have friends and do cool stuff.'" It's irritating that women are not able to use the dating app in the way that they want to; they're having to adjust their behaviour because persistent men persistenly break the rules.
Josie, 29, London has had it happen plenty of times to her. "It's such a dumbass move. I find it really annoying because I really try to be super clear with people and not mess them around, and this makes me feel like they are just. Not. Listening," she says. "What's the point of swiping if people are still going to message you anyway?"
Worse than insipid messages, Annie*, 18, from Cheshire, said she recently received unsolicited dick pics via Instagram DMs from someone she left-swiped. "I was with a male friend at the time who insulted him, and he only sent more," she told me. Like Lizzie, she wants to have her Instagram easily accessible to people who find her on Tinder, because the former is "almost used as a personal CV, like a portfolio for your personality and style".
"It's gross," she says, "and recently I've gone off lads because of a sexual assault I experienced as a younger teenager, and the last thing I want are dick pics in my DMs right now."
When I spoke to Bethan, 32, from London, she said Tindstagramming had put her off Tinder altogether, and that she's now using Bumble instead. The whole thing "definitely made me realise that I was blithely giving away quite a lot of info about myself and that people I didn't want anything to do with could pretty easily track me down," she says.
How could Tinder fix this? A few suggestions: end the ability to click through to an Instagram account from Tinder; hide the Instagram handle in the Tinder display; only show a certain number of isolated photos. Mind you, this isn't just happening on Tinder alone. Ayra, 24, London, says the same thing happens to her on Bumble, an app specifically designed to allow women to make the first move. "It's supposed to be women who message first, yet [men] ignore that and shoot their shot," she says. "It's the worst when they continually try; keep replying to your stories even without a response."
Instagram aside, if you have your Tinder search radius small, it's not difficult to hunt someone down on social media using only their first name, age and any information they may have in their bio. But what are you doing? You're stalking someone who has made it clear they do not want to know you. If you make contact, it's a form of harassment.
Jessie, 23, from London, says she has made a point of not linking Instagram with Tinder for that specific reason, yet still once had a man find and DM her. "He was a friend of a friend that I'd never heard of, so he found me by looking through all his following list, couldn't find me and then looked through all of another mutual's instead." She showed me the initial message from the man which said: "Hola, John's* hot Tinder friend! Shame on you for not swiping right on me * upwards eyes emoji * literally had to go through all kinds of lengths to find your fine booty on Insta to try and sneak into your DMs. * eyes looking emoji * * monkey say no evil emoji *."
Tindstagramming in all its forms is something that only men are doing. In my own personal experience, if women want to follow me on Instagram or chat to me on another medium, they always ask permission. Lizzie agrees. "It's totally gendered. Never had a woman do it. I guess men don't really feel like they have to respect women's boundaries in any sphere," she says. "Them being seen or heard is the most important thing."
This online behaviour is an extension of the entitlement you find in real life dating, and the solution can be boiled down to: men, behave yourselves and stop wasting the time and emotional energy we could otherwise be putting into hooking up with guys who aren't creeps.