You may think social media is all about the baby pics, decorative lunches and passive-aggressive promotion of your aspirational lifestyle, but it’s also a hotbed of sexual tension. While most people are happy to read your updates about your daily commute and coo about how woke you are when you link to a piece in the Guardian, there are also plenty out there absolutely gagging for it and, by extension, you.
But how can you tell if they’re really into you and not just being polite users of the internet? I investigated some common social media behaviour to see if they’re giving you a come-on or merely friend-zoning.
Faves all your tweets
OK, so favouriting on Twitter involves a love heart, practically the most romantic symbol in the world, alongside a huge engagement ring and a bicycle made for two. Sadly, a keen faver isn’t necessarily after getting into your boxers – they might, weird I know, simply agree with what you say. Maybe test this out by tweeting something so ears-shatteringly dull and pedestrian that nobody could find it interesting or amusing unless they were sex-starved and desperate for your attention. A particularly dull sandwich, perhaps, or a lukewarm, days-old take on world events. Do a series of them – don’t worry, you can delete them later if you’re worried about alienating your core fanbase – and if they fave the majority, they’re flirting. Trust me, I’m an anecdata scientist.
Likes all your shirtless selfies on Instagram
This could go either way. It could be a ruse to get you to compliment their selfies. So look at it another way. How sexy are their selfies? And do they post them just after you do or around the time they like one of yours? They could be selfie-baiting you. It’s like a private show or a secret love note, but out in full view of the world, because it’s 2017. Instagram might look like an innocent, twee picture-sharing app where #eatclean enthusiasts can rant about kale to their heart’s content, but it’s actually the gritty, sordid – and thus brilliant – underground sex club of the internet. When they post a selfie, you should do one too, and then like theirs. If they race back and like yours, I mean, it is pretty much on. Maybe.
Watches all your Instagram stories
Instagram Stories – those live snippets of your day that helpfully disappear after 24 hours to spare your blushes – are renowned for being at the centre of an ongoing struggle for supremacy in the flirting and dating stakes. Read Hannah Ewens’s comprehensive and gripping story for Vice on getting the best out of Instagram Stories – and possibly getting sex as a result. “You post a picture with one, two or more people in mind. You want them to see it. They are doing the same… You lay the trap, they open the trap: the power is with you. They deliberately choose not to open it, to leave you waiting: the power is lost.” Guys, it’s another world – you need to get involved. That video of them absentmindedly singing along to a song you’ve mentioned you liked? Intentional. Flirting. You might think it’s just a coincidence and that you’re overthinking it, but there’s every chance it’s targeted directly at you – they’re just making it look like it isn’t. (Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean everyone who films themselves in their underwear and miming into a hairbrush fancies you – maybe they’re just really bored.)
Likes a pic of you eating a hotdog from 2013
Well, they’re obviously interested enough in you to scroll back through your pics so it’s a good sign, isn’t it? Even if it was an accidental finger twitch that activated the like. A like is a like. Grab onto it. Use it.
Replies to everything you say
Weird how chatty some people are, isn’t it? But do you have someone who can’t shut their mouth or someone who’s after a mouthful of you? Did you post a pic and they said you looked handsome? Stand down: they might just be your great-grandmother reincarnated. That’s far too vague a compliment. But what about “love those big blue eyes” or “nice shirt, but I reckon you’d look good in anything”? This is detailed – they’re studying you. Or what about a heart-eyes emoji? You could argue they’re not so much flirting here as throwing themselves in front of you, but it’s a start. If they’re going out of their way to reply to even your most trivial of viewpoints, then you could be in there.
Responds to your comments on Facebook
I don’t think you really want to be chirpsed by someone who can be bothered commenting on Facebook posts, do you? Really? Even if they are flirting, play dumb. More often than not, they’re just looking for somewhere to vent their frustrations now that smacking children is illegal and the washer dryer on spin cycle doesn’t shudder as much as it used to. Remember, too, that family members will be reading these comments – you don’t want your next family get-together to start with Auntie Val getting drunk and telling everyone she saw you clumsily chatting up Sally, who you sat beside in Year Ten French, in the comments underneath an article about Trump.
Retweets you constantly
How boring are you? If the answer is very and they hit the RT button within the first 40 seconds, then, yes, they are flirting. If it’s a retweet two days later, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Yes, it could be a begrudging “might as well”, but it could also mean they scour your timeline regularly and want you to know they are watching.
Slides into your DMs
I think all pretence can be dropped here. If they’re trundling into your private inbox, they’re being as subtle as a fuchsia pink jacket at a funeral.
Endorses you on LinkedIn
About as flirtatious as a spinal tap or waking up to discover your hands have been replaced by shovels. Unless it’s accompanied by the sinister-sounding “InMail” with a shot of them topless in front of a company logo. Warning: any message that contains the word “synergy” is not flirting.