In Honor of Twitter's 10th Birthday, We Salute the Men and Women Sliding Into Your DMs

In Honor of Twitter's 10th Birthday, We Salute the Men and Women Sliding Into Your DMs
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

On March 21, 2016, Twitter celebrated its 10th anniversary — and with it, the 10th anniversary of people hooking up on the social media platform. While meeting people over the internet — from MySpace to Facebook to AOL Instant Messenger — has been viewed in the past as the realm of sedentary nerds, now everyone from politicians to athletes to the actor who played Urkel are using Twitter to hook up. Indeed, there's something kind of fitting about the fact that Twitter is celebrating its birthday while Yo Gotti's "Down in the DM" sits at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.

There's a reason why Twitter is widely viewed as an exceptional platform for meeting people: Everyone is trying their hardest to impress everyone else, within 140 characters or less. The giddy tension of waiting for the person you just followed to follow you back is as good as any teasing on the dance floor, and tweeting your opening line at someone is a lot less intimidating than walking up to them at a bar.

To commemorate the fact that millions of future parents will tell the story of how they met by sliding into each other's DMs, Mic spoke to four people who have hooked up on Twitter, whether they were brief flings or serious relationships.

Anya*, 23, Brooklyn, New York City

Mic: Tell me about your most major Twitter crush. How did things start? How did they escalate?

Anya: He was someone who worked in journalism and we had some mutual friends in real life, so we followed each other as, like, "professional" contacts and were vaguely aware of each other. Things escalated when a friend suggested I reach out to him to ask some work-related questions, and we started Gchatting about professional things, and then that devolved into general chatting.

What was it like the first time you guys talked on the phone or in person?

Anya: It was pretty crazy because he didn't live anywhere near where I was living at the time. We were Gchatting one day and I was like, "I think I'm gonna throw a New Year's party," and he was like, "Wait, can I fly down for that? I have no plans." Then there he was, in my home, a few days later. That was the first time I heard his voice. So it was overwhelming and sorta crazy, and at that point neither of us had really acknowledged the crush. 

How long did it take for it to go from a random fun thing to something slightly more serious?

Anya: We had sex when he was in town for my New Year's party, and before he flew back home, he was like, "So... I like you, and do you wanna give this thing a shot?" It was sudden, but we'd been talking for weeks and had gotten really close, so I was like, "Yeah, sure, let's do it, man."

"I definitely get a little stressed about, like, adding crushes on Facebook or following them on Twitter, because then it's like, we are really part of each other's lives now."

What was the ugliest internet crush breakup you've ever had? Have you ever been heartbroken over Twitter?

Anya: This was my only internet crush to really come to fruition, and the breakup was really civil. Like we're still Facebook friends, follow each other on all the sites, etc., etc.

Does it distress you how much the internet has fed into your personal romantic life? Or is that OK with you?

Anya: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I definitely get a little stressed about, like, adding crushes on Facebook or following them on Twitter, because then it's like, we are really part of each other's lives now. I have a new crush on this guy who doesn't have any web presence like at all, and it's sorta refreshing. Like you can't do the whole stalking spiral down the rabbit hole. I don't give a fuck about being "off the grid," but it's nice to just like, really only know a person in real life.

Do you think we should talk about our internet crushes and relationships more openly? Sometimes I feel if it was less of a weird thing to talk about, maybe it wouldn't feel as lonely sometimes.

Anya: Yes, totally. I don't think it should be taboo to develop crush feelings on someone whose thoughts and random quips you read all day, or someone you message with all day. People have been crushing on internet strangers since the internet was created. If we can be less lonely by chatting with crushes online, then fuck yeah, that's great.

Sarah*, 21, Detroit

Mic: Tell me about your most major Twitter crush. How did things start? How did they escalate?

Sarah: I was a junior in high school, and someone retweeted a tweet about the band Wavves (which was my favorite band for a really long time). So I went to the Twitter of the original tweet, and it was a guy who lived in Connecticut. We followed each other, and for the first few months, we would tweet back and forth about music. One day, he DMed me his number, and from there, we pretty much talked and texted all day, every day.

What was it like the first time you guys talked on the phone or in person?

Sarah: I was actually at a music festival in Austin [Texas] and I was hammered when I called him for the first time. I guess I was just really nervous about talking to him on the phone. I remember thinking that he had a really nice voice, and honestly, it was great to hear the voice of someone that you've been talking to for months on Twitter.

How long did it take for it to go from a random fun thing to something slightly more serious?

Sarah: Probably about six months. He had a girlfriend when we first started talking, so that affected our relationship a lot. He ended up breaking up with her for me and asked me to be his girlfriend about two weeks after.

Did you guys sext before actually hooking up? If so, what was it like hooking up with them after building it up for so long?

Sarah: Unbelievably uncomfortable. He was moving from Connecticut to Los Angeles, so we met in Ohio when he was driving across the country. My friend and I drove down and met them at an IHOP in Columbus. We all got breakfast together, and I sat next to him but didn't say much. It was weird to meet someone that I had been talking to for almost a year and a half and was so in love with, even though we had never had any physical interactions. There were a lot of surprises when I met him too. For example, he was about 4 inches shorter than me. It sucks when you have to crouch down for your first kiss with someone.

This is actually super embarrassing, but he took my virginity. So not only was it the first time having sex with someone that I had been in a long-distance Twitter relationship with, but it was also my first time having sex ever. Looking back on it now, it sucked. I lost my virginity on a Grateful Dead tapestry on the floor of a studio apartment in Oceanside [Ohio]. He also only played Phish when I lost my virginity. I fucking hate Phish. I will say, though, at the time it was fantastic. I was so in love with him, and I got to give him the biggest part of my life that I could never get back.

"It was weird to meet someone that I had been talking to for almost a year and a half and was so in love with, even though we had never had any physical interactions."

What was the ugliest internet crush breakup you've ever had? Have you ever been heartbroken over Twitter?

Sarah: We broke up in September of 2014. It was a fucking mess. He used to be a heroin addict. I knew about that from the beginning. He would always tell me that I was the reason he kicked his heroin habit and if he didn't have me in his life, he would still be using and probably would've ODed by now — really weird, controlling shit that I thought was sweet when I was 17. About two months after we moved in together, I met my current boyfriend, Jake, at the venue I was working at. We started hanging out pretty much every day.

I kept seeing Jake for about five months until I broke up with my ex on the car ride back from a music festival we were at. Then things started to get really wild. He was publicly bashing me on Twitter, calling me a whore and a cunt to our mutual friends. One night, he called me in tears telling me that he needed me back and that he was in love with me. I agreed to meet with him the day after the phone call. We went and got lunch and talked. Turns out he overdosed on heroin the previous night. Actually, it turns out he was on heroin the whole entire time we were in a relationship. 

Do you think we should talk about our internet crushes/relationships more openly? Do you think that helped you feel more normal during all that craziness?

Sarah: Definitely. Even before I started a relationship with my ex, I had started friendships over the internet. Two of my closest friendships were started through Tumblr in 2009, and we're still friends to this day. I think it's a very good way for people with social anxieties to meet people. At least in my experiences, I'm not very nice when I met people in real life. Because of my anxieties, it's so hard for me to meet new friends and it's even harder for me to meet people of the opposite sex.

Ellie*, 24, Regina, Saskatchewan 

Mic: Tell me about your most major Twitter crush. How did things start? How did they escalate?

Ellie: I follow people because I admire what they do, or I think that they're funny. If I feel like there's a possibility that we could become pals, I'll generally DM them and start a conversation. If that goes well and I feel like I can trust them, I'll give them my number.

Most of the time this has just resulted in having a cool new friend, but eventually things have become flirtatious and I've probably been on two or three dates with people I've met on Twitter. The most significant Twitter-to-IRL crush ended up with me seeing the person on-and-off for about a year. [It got serious after] about 3 months. 

"The worst is being ghosted."

Did you guys sext before actually hooking up? If so, what was it like hooking up with them after building it up for so long?

Ellie: Yeah, sexting rules ... The cool thing about sexting, particularly in this situation, is you come into the actual physical relationship with a wealth of knowledge about each other's desires and boundaries. It also seems to facilitate communication, big time.

What was the ugliest internet crush breakup you've ever had? Have you ever been heartbroken over Twitter?

Ellie: Most of the people I've seen that I've met online live at a distance. I don't really date locally, so I tend to mostly see people when I travel or if they come through town. This means that if there's a relationship beyond just sex, communication via text or phone is pretty important. Even if it's just a friends-with-benefits situation. The worst is being ghosted. This has happened only once, but it was with someone who I was pretty invested in — despite not wanting to see them seriously. 

Does it distress you how much the internet has fed into your personal romantic life? Or is that okay with you?

Ellie: Almost everyone I've ever dated with a few exceptions have been people that I've met online. I'm pretty used to it, and I'm not really sure what life would be like otherwise.

Do you think we should talk about our internet crushes/relationships more openly? Sometimes I feel if it was less of a weird thing to talk about, maybe it wouldn't feel as lonely sometimes.

Ellie: I'm not entirely sure how to approach this question. Relationships that have started on the internet are so prevalent that it seems silly that they'd be taboo. Yet, I do feel like it's something that encourages people to be discreet about what's going on in their love life.

Isabelle*, 32, Austin, Texas

Mic: Tell me about your most major Twitter crush. How did things start? How did they escalate?

Isabelle: I met a Scottish guy on Twitter in 2014 after he liked something I tweeted to a friend of his in a popular band. Remember Twitter's Discover tab [the now-defunct feature that displayed which topics were most popular in a user's network]? That's how he found me. I looked at his profile and thought he was very cute, funny, we seemed to have a lot in common. I started following him, and he followed me back. 

What was it like the first time you guys talked on the phone or in person?

Isabelle: So cool. I'll never forget it as long as I live; it was the day they released the first photo of the Star Wars Episode VII's table read, so we talked about that first. I had come home for lunch, so we only had an hour, but I remember wishing we could talk forever.

How long did it take for it to go from a random fun thing to something slightly more serious?

Isabelle: It was about a month from us going from total randoms to chatting everyday. I slid into his DMs, just by stating that we should be friends. Things progressed from there.

Did you guys sext before actually hooking up? If so, what was it like hooking up with them after building it up for so long?

Isabelle: Of course. What am I, living in 1997? I'll just say the day we met was hands down the best day of my entire life.

"I fear some people wouldn't understand how you can be that drawn to someone you have never met."

What was the ugliest internet crush breakup you've ever had? Have you ever been heartbroken over Twitter?

Isabelle: We've been on-and-off. The first time we ended things back in 2014 was over Kik. It was less clunky for regular texting than Twitter. That being said, I've often used Twitter DMs to express my heartbreak to him many times. But after we met IRL, he ended it via email. It is a very long, drawn-out, tragic story. I am still sad every day about it.

Do you think we should talk about our internet crushes/relationships more openly? Sometimes I feel if it was less of a weird thing to talk about, maybe it wouldn't feel as lonely sometimes.

Isabelle: Yes, totally ... There are several people in my life who think that I met this guy at SXSW [South by Southwest] because, honestly, it is just easier than explaining the truth. I've never even told my mom about him! I fear some people wouldn't understand how you can be that drawn to someone you have never met. I am also afraid of their judgement to a certain extent. How can a smart young woman in her early 30s let this happen to her? That goes through my mind, sure. But the thing is, we all know people who met on MySpace or Craigslist and live together, have kids, got married, etc. Everyone is entitled to happiness and love, no matter where they find it.

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