Sliding into DMs on social media is a great tactic to get a girl’s attention, we all know that. While it doesn’t always lead to a conversation, the fact that you’re shooting your shot is commendable, because a lot of guys just creep on a girl’s Instagram without ever actually making a move — so be proud of yourself for giving it a try.

Thing is, sliding into DMs of someone has a certain connotation that is only associated with flirting, sexting or hunting for a date. Is that fair? Is simply sending a message taken out of context by too many people that it’s become this way-too-serious thing that should only be reserved for hookups? We don’t think so, and we’re here to defend our position.

Since sliding into DMs does have this mythical relationship between sex and dating — as most people do it to try and hookup — that’s not the only reason people should do it. In fact, even if you do it on a girl you know is in a relationship, it’s totally OK. And we’re telling you why sliding into DMs whenever you feel like it is appropriate; just as long as you know what your intention really is.

Sliding into DMs doesn’t have to be creepy

As mentioned above, just because you’re sliding into DMs doesn’t mean that it has to be flirty or creepy — so feel free to have some fun with it. For instance, if you follow a girl on Instagram who you know is already taken but you’re interested in, you shouldn’t feel weird about sending a reply to one of their IG stories. Sure, it may catch them off-guard, but, really, who cares?

Maybe it’s an update about a restaurant and you’ve been there before and send a suggestion. Or maybe they’re traveling and you just drop a hint of where to visit on their trip. Treat it like a friendship and you won’t be pigeon-holed as a total creep for trying.

Make sure you have a plan when sliding into DMs of a person who’s already taken

Of course, before you actually get into the good graces of a girl who’s already taken when sliding into her DMs, you want to make sure you have a plan of action before messaging them. That means you’re not trying to cause any trouble or threatening to come onto them.

Sure, you might be into this girl — whether you know her or just randomly follow her on Instagram — but don’t let them know that you’re only talking in order to, one day, potentially have a chance with them. Be cool about it, guys.

Just remember to avoid getting into a habit of sliding into DMs of taken people

We have a buddy who slides into DMs all the time, and it’s actually done more harm than good for him. Not only have girls openly talked about how they find it a little weird that he always seems to be shooting his shot on social media, but, if the girl is taken, they find it a little strange that he’s giving them so much attention.

So, while it’s totally OK to message girls on there — even ones who are already taken — you can’t make it a routine of yours to reply to everything they post or try to create some sort of false friendship. Some guys can fall into that trap, like our buddy, but it seems to comes across as a little desperate for attention, which is the last thing you want to have happen when sliding into DMs of people.

It’s OK to flirt, but know your limits

Assuming you and this girl have exchanged messages a few times back and forth and you know she’s OK with things, don’t be afraid to flirt a little bit — but remember that she’s taken and you don’t want to cross any lines. That means that, while she may be giving signals that she’s interested in hanging out sometime, you need to make sure she blatantly says so, and not just invite her somewhere as if she were single.

Some may claim this whole “bro code” thing — whether you want to believe it or not — but, above anything else, just being a decent person who isn’t trying to stir up trouble for anyone else should be your objective. If flirting happens, that’s probably natural, just remember to pull back even if she’s throwing it at you hard. You don’t want any drama because of this.

In some cases, you could develop an actual friendship after sliding into their DMs

Is it possible to just be friends with someone who’s in a relationship after sliding into their DMs? Obviously, and, should you play your cards right, you may just have that happen.

For example, we’ve messaged more than a few girls who are in relationships on IG before and have gotten replies. We went through all the above steps — making sure we didn’t overstep boundaries and respecting that they’re taken — while still flirting a little bit, too. When the opportunity was right, we actually met up with them in a group at a music festival and got to hanging out with some of her girlfriends; which was actually pretty awesome.

So, while you may want this girl for yourself — or she may just be a friend — understanding that sliding into their DMs when she’s dating someone could be risky, but, hopefully, she doesn’t feel threatened by anything you’re saying and you two actually build a relationship of your own in some way.