It’s left swipe after left swipe. But just as you start to lose hope, you stumble on major right swipe material. Finally, you found someone who appears to tick all of your boxes, and it’s a match — game on. But as you start getting in the groove of a conversation, you realize your curiosities about this person go beyond what’s offered in their DMs.
Dating apps only offer a few crumbs of information regarding your matches, so if you want to get to know them better, without, well, asking them directly, you might be tempted to turn to some harmless sleuthing. “It’s a must,” Jenna, 30, tells Bustle of her pre-date investigatory practices. “The only problem is when you search for a lot of different matches and then mix them up — I did that once, I tried to impress a guy with some similarities I discovered on his Instagram but I realized I was actually remembering someone else’s’.”
So long as you keep your detective files organized, looking up your matches can save you a lot of time, especially if you have some date non-starters. (To be clear, this is best done once you’ve already chatted with the person and are looking for hints you can drop on your date, like a mutual appreciation for pugs, or The Mets, or hot wings — otherwise, downloading too much private intel will probably/definitely come off as creepy.) If your match has given the app access to their Instagram, you’ll be able to see some of their pictures and check out their account from within the app, but if they haven’t linked them, you’ll have to go Olsen and Olsen Mystery Agency on them.
Consider this your reminder that anyone on the ‘net can do this to you, too — and if that sketches you out, you might want to double check that your dating app profiles don’t contain more personally identifiable info than you’re comfortable with. But if you’re ready to find out more about a potential datefriend, here’s how to find your matches on Instagram.
Check Out Their Profile
Before you put on your sleuthy-chic trench coat, check out your match’s profile. Scroll down under their bio to see if they’ve linked some Instagram pictures. If they have connected their Instagram to their Tinder, you’ll see a little grid of selected images and able to tap one of the them and see the user’s handle. You can then navigate over to their IG page directly, saving you a lot of guessing. You can also see linked Instagram accounts on Bumble, OKCupid, and Hinge, though not all dating apps allow this.
Scan For Clues
If they haven’t linked their dating app to their Instagram, it’s time to put on your detective gear. Scan their profile for clues, like the college they went to or what town they live in. Pair any of these details with their username in a Google or a Facebook search to see what comes up. For example, searching “Gillian,” “Smarty Pants University Class of 2009,” “New York, NY,” might lead you to a LinkedIn page, or other clues that you can use to find the dating app match on Instagram.
You can also use these clues to find mutuals with this match. Say this person went to Smarty Pants University — you might know someone who went to school there, and they might be friends with your potential date. You can search through their Facebook friends for the first name of your match and see if you recognize any profile pictures.
Do A Reverse Image Search
If you don’t have time to launch a full investigation, and basic searches aren’t yielding anything promising, you can take a screenshot of their profile picture(s) and do a Google reverse image search. If they’ve used that photo anywhere else on the web, Google will show you where. Chances are, if it’s their main photo, they like it, and they’ve used it before. You might find their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page first using this method. From there, you can figure out their last name or any other clues you need to find them on Instagram.
Congratulations! You can now get a job at the CIA and find intel on your crushes, too. Just, you know, remember that choosing not to link their Instagram probably means that they don’t want to share more about their personal life with strangers. In which case, you can just satisfy your curiosity the old-fashioned way: by chatting with them on the app.