Love In The Time Of Thirst Traps: The Weird (And Innovative) Way People Use Social Media In Dating

Social media has really infiltrated our society and changed the ways in which we interact with each other. It’s no surprise that it has also had a strong impact on dating.

Of course, with modern problems come modern solutions, so people have created inventive ways to use social media in their romantic endeavors.

For Me, It All Started When My Pal Was Posting A Thirst Trap

woman looking down at phone screen, smiling
Photo Credit: Pexels / Jhosua Rodríguez
Photo Credit: Pexels / Jhosua Rodríguez

I was hanging out on the couch sorting through the photos my best friend had taken in some new swimsuits she’d ordered online.

She was looking for the “hottest one” to post on her Instagram story so that a specific guy would slide into her DMs.

Let Me Add Some Context

woman in bikini lying on boat
Photo Credit: Pexels / Oriana Polito
Photo Credit: Pexels / Oriana Polito

To explain, a “thirst trap” is a photo someone (often a woman) posts online in order to get attention from potential romantic interests.

Most times, it’s a photo that’s moderately revealing or extra attractive because it’s supposed to incite “thirst” in the viewer.

I Guess A Lot Of Social Media Posting Isn’t For The Masses

neon sign looks like 0 likes notification on Instagram
Photo Credit: Pexels / Prateek Katyal
Photo Credit: Pexels / Prateek Katyal

I like to think of posting something online in hopes of getting a reaction from one specific person is kind of the modern equivalent of Gatsby throwing ragers every weekend in hopes that one specific woman would show up to a party.

And it’s more common than you think.

People Have Even Innovated The Thirst Trap

woman lying with phone held over her like she's taking a selfie
Photo Credit: Pexels / Anastasia Shuraeva
Photo Credit: Pexels / Anastasia Shuraeva

Of course, posting for everyone to see when you really only want it to be seen by one person can feel like a lot.

However, people have found ways to manipulate the system.

Settings Are Wild

person going through instagram explore page
Photo Credit: Pexels / Kerde Severin
Photo Credit: Pexels / Kerde Severin

Sometimes, someone wants to create the pretense that a photo is for everyone when it’s only intended for one specific person.

What they do is they’ll hide the story from all their followers except that one person. Therefore, it seems very public but only one pair of eyes is seeing it.

But That’s Just The Surface Level

phone screen shows variety of social media app icons
Photo Credit: Pexels / Tracy Le Blanc
Photo Credit: Pexels / Tracy Le Blanc

Honestly, there are so many little ways that people manipulate social media when it comes to dating.

Here are some of the most common ways, as well as the most chaotic ways I’ve seen people manipulate social media in regards to their dating lives.

Getting Your Friends To Follow Someone For You…

phone with paper cutouts of Instagram follow, like, and comment notification icons
Photo Credit: Pexels / Cristian Dina
Photo Credit: Pexels / Cristian Dina

I cannot count the number of times that my friends have asked me to follow some random guy they met in person because he has a private Instagram account.

I send the follow request so it’s not directly traceable to them. The follow request is pretty much always accepted.

…And Then We Collectively Look For Info

two women looking at a phone screen together
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro

I’ve done this for friends for a variety of reasons, but the main one is often because they want to suss out if the guy is single.

Using my phone, we search for photos of significant others (and consider how recent they are) as well as comments that might suggest he’s in a relationship. If we find nothing, she can assume he’s actually available.

Instagram Has Also Sparked The Rise Of The “Soft Launch”

person taking photo of date from across table
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro

A soft launch is when someone posts a photo of them where there is clearly another person in the photo, but they aren’t identifiable.

It signals that you’re dating someone, but that someone remains a relative mystery.

Are They Ignoring You Or Are They Not On Their Phone?

woman's face illuminated by phone screen in the dark
Photo Credit: Pexels / Mikotoraw
Photo Credit: Pexels / Mikotoraw

Another common tactic when someone isn’t responding to a text/call is to check their activity on social media.

In the messages segment of Instagram, you can see information about how long ago a person was last active on Instagram.

Snapchat Has A Similar Feature

snapchar logo on phone screen
Photo Credit: Pexels / Anton
Photo Credit: Pexels / Anton

Snap Maps allows Snapchat users to not only see how long ago someone was active on the app, but also their location at time of use.

And trust me, it can be very accurate.

I Actually Had A Friend Discover Her Man Was Cheating Via Snapchat

woman on top of man covering his face
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro

My friend had been suspicious of her boyfriend and his ex for a while but didn’t have evidence to back it up.

That is, until she saw her boyfriend’s location on the map.

She Did Some Digging

woman looking at Google maps on her phone
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro

She knew that his ex lived on a certain street which was where his location was turning up, but she didn’t know the address.

My friend ended up on his ex’s Instagram account, where she found a photo of her standing in front of her house so the number was visible. A quick Google search confirmed it: he was at the ex’s house.

People Also Are Looking Into Snapchat Scores

snapchat app icon on phone screen
Photo Credit: Pexels / Solen Feyissa
Photo Credit: Pexels / Solen Feyissa

A “Snap Score” is the total number of Snapchats that someone has sent in their time using the app.

Each time a new Snapchat is sent, the number increases by one.

So People Keep Records

tally count on chalk board
Photo Credit: Pexels / Miguel á Padriñán
Photo Credit: Pexels / Miguel á Padriñán

Some people will take note of the Snap score of a love interest/romantic partner and proceed to track how frequently it increases and when that happens.

That way, they can gauge if they’re talking to someone else or if they’re being ignored.

R.I.P. To The Instagram Activity Tab

instagram like notification floating above man's head
Photo Credit: Pexels / Oladimeji Ajegbile
Photo Credit: Pexels / Oladimeji Ajegbile

In loving memory, we look back at the Instagram activity tab, which used to provide a constant stream of info on what the people you follow were liking.

Updating in real-time, you could see if a romantic interest was liking other people’s photos and, in general, figure out their interests (sports, home decor, fashion, etc.). It’s probably for the best that Instagram got rid of it in 2019.

Using Tagged Photos To Catch Catfish

woman scrolling through instagram feed
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro
Photo Credit: Pexels / cottonbro

Sure, people on social media and dating apps get to post the best images of themselves.

However, they can’t control the photos that other people post online that they’re in.

The Tagged Photos Tell The Truth

group taking a selfie together
Photo Credit: Pexels / Kindel Media
Photo Credit: Pexels / Kindel Media

Think that someone is editing their photos heavily or overuses filters?

Look to see the photos that their friends have tagged them in. There’s a low chance that someone else would take the time to edit them to look much better than normal.

You Might Ask: Is Any Of This Healthy?

woman looking through window blinds
Photo Credit: Pexels / Jack Redgate
Photo Credit: Pexels / Jack Redgate

In general, when it comes to social media, people have been asking if the way these apps affect us is something to be concerned about.

Honestly, I think that it can easily become an obsessive habit to check Snap scores and locations on someone, and it even can open the door for dangerous stalking.

But Then Again, It’s Not Going Anywhere

people walking on busy city street
Photo Credit: Pexels / Ramil Ugot
Photo Credit: Pexels / Ramil Ugot

Like it or not, social media does play a role in how many people navigate the dating scene.

So, if you’re single and looking to meet someone, you might have to delete those photos with your ex.