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Are DMs for flirting?

Direct messages (DMs) on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are a convenient way for people to have private conversations outside of public comments and posts. DMs provide an intimate and direct line of communication between two users. As such, DMs have developed a reputation as being frequently used for flirtatious conversations and even initiating romantic relationships. But are DMs really primarily used for flirting, or do they serve a wider range of communication needs? Looking at some data and perspectives can provide a more nuanced understanding of how and why people use DMs.

What the Data Says

There have been several surveys and studies that have looked into the use of DMs for flirting and romantic purposes:

Percentage who have used DMs to flirt/initiate a relationship

Survey Percentage
Hinge 2019 survey 63% 2020 survey 49%
MTV Insights survey 2018 37% among Gen Z

These surveys indicate that overall somewhere between one and two thirds of people use DMs for flirting or romantic initiation at least some of the time. The MTV Insights survey highlights this usage among younger demographics in particular.

Additional data points around DM flirting:

– In a Hinge survey, 52% of users felt excited when receiving a DM from a romantic interest, more so than from getting a like or comment.

– In a 2021 survey by The Manifest, 61% of social media users reported occasionally using DMs to flirt, while 27% said they frequently use DMs to flirt.

– Research by eharmony found that 56% of women and 48% of men initiate flirting via DMs after matching on a dating app.

So the data indicates that while a majority of users have used DMs for flirtatious purposes, this does not account for all DM usage or even the majority for most individuals. There are also generational, gender and situational differences in this usage.

Reasons People Use DMs for Flirting

There are some key reasons that make DMs a popular channel for initiating flirty conversations or relationships:


DMs provide a private, intimate space away from the public eye where people feel more comfortable expressing romantic interest.

Asynchronous communication

DMs allow flirting to happen asynchronously, where each person can respond on their own time. This reduces pressure.

Confidence boost

Initiating over DMs can giveconfidence to make a first move compared to in-person flirting.

Easier initiation

DMs provide a low-stakes way to put feelers out and see if someone is interested before taking bigger steps like asking them out.

Meeting new people

DMs allow flirting with people you don’t already know in real life. This expands romantic possibilities.

Other Uses of DMs

While flirting is a major function, DMs also enable other important types of conversations:

Sensitive subjects

People use DMs to discuss personal issues like health problems or conflicts in relationships to maintain privacy.

Practical coordination

DMs help plan events, share info, or collaborate on projects for work, school, or with friends.

Casual chatting

DMs allow casual social chats to sustain relationships when apart.


DMs provide a quick way to get in touch and have a direct back-and-forth rather than email.

Avoiding spam

Having extended conversations over DMs avoids bombarding a public newsfeed.

DM Flirting Etiquette

While DMs can be used for flirting, there are some etiquette guidelines to keep it appropriate:

Don’t be overly aggressive

Come on too strong over DMs and you may make someone uncomfortable. Keep it friendly.

Read replies and social cues

If responses become short or infrequent, they may have lost interest.

Respect boundaries

If someone doesn’t seem receptive, politely bow out rather than pressuring.

Move to other channels

If there’s mutual interest after some DMing, exchange numbers or plan a date.

Don’t DM strangers excessively

It comes across as spammy to DM someone you don’t know out of nowhere.

Gender Differences in DM Flirting

Research indicates some gender differences in how men and women use DMs for flirting and romantic initiation:

Who Initiates DMs

Men Women
Initiate Flirty DMs 63% 37%

Men are more likely to initiate flirty DMs than women.

DM Volume

Men Women
Average Daily DMs Received 17 6

Across numerous platforms, women receive fewer DMs on average than men.

Desired DM Frequency

Men Women
Ideal Daily DM Frequency From Match 4 2

Women prefer receiving fewer DMs from romantic interests compared to men.

These gender differences may come down to factors like social norms, communication styles, and safety concerns. Platforms and users continue working to improve DM culture.

DM Flirting by Generation

There are also some generational differences in how people utilize DMs for flirting and relationships:

Initiation Rates

Generation Percentage Who Use DMs to Initiate
Gen Z (18-25) 76%
Millennials (26-41) 63%
Gen X (42-57) 48%
Baby Boomers (58-76) 27%

Younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials are much more likely to use DMs for flirting compared to Gen X and Boomers.

DM Volume

Younger generations send many more DMs per day on average than older generations. For example:

– Gen Z sends around 50 DMs per day
– Gen X sends around 5-10 DMs per day

DM Content

Younger generations tend to have more casual, freewheeling conversations over DM, while older generations have a more focused, direct DM communication style.

These generational differences may come down to factors like digital proficiency, cultural norms, and differing ideas on privacy.

DM Flirting Risks

While initiating romance over DMs can be exciting, there are some risks to be aware of:


Flirty intent can be lost over DM and come off wrong. Use enough context and be clear.


It’s easy to present an exaggerated or false version of yourself over DMs. But this can backfire later.


Persistent unwanted DMs are inappropriate. Respect it if someone doesn’t reciprocate interest.


The intimacy of DMs can lead to oversharing personal details early on. Take it slow.

Digital trail

Flirty DMs leave a digital trail of evidence of interactions. Be mindful of content.


Developing an attachment purely over DMs can lead to disappointment if it doesn’t work out.

Being thoughtful in DM flirting reduces these risks. Focus on getting to know someone before leaping into romance.


While DMs are frequently used for flirting and initiating relationships, they facilitate a wide range of conversations and connections. Demographic factors like age and gender influence people’s use of DMs for romantic purposes, as do personal preferences. Ultimately, DMs provide a convenient communication channel, but it takes some care to use them effectively especially for sensitive conversations like flirting. Following proper etiquette principles helps keep DM flirting and relationships positive.