A few years ago, when talking about the topic of online stalking or “researching” or whatever you want to call it, I would have said doing it before the date is not only not the norm, it’s also on the creepy side.
Fast forward to 2021, and, while I’m not saying I like it, most people’s norm is to do their “due diligence” before a date to see if everything this person has written in the profile checks out. And whether they look like themselves!
I am still of the opinion that it’s best not to look someone up before the date, but I realize I am now in the minority. Not looking someone up makes for a more authentic and open-minded first date since you won’t be coming in with preconceived notions.
When we do too much research, we’re dwelling on this person’s past — perhaps divorces, old photos, financial information, etc. Is it fair to judge someone in the present using information from the past? While I know many will say, “Of course it is — history repeats itself,” or “I want to know what I’m getting myself into,” I’ll instead say people change. Maybe they don’t change in fundamental ways, like their values, but certainly their financial situation can, in addition to many other things you’ll find if you dig hard enough.
How do I know times are changing? It’s all in my clients’ behavior. One guy on Tinder recently refused to go out with a client of mine because she wouldn’t readily give up the link to her Instagram profile. He “wanted to make sure she was who she said she was.” She was (of course), but she was turned off by the lack of trust. While he had likely been burned — or catfished — in the past, I wouldn’t recommend projecting that distrust onto new, potentially wonderful people. Yes, some people lie. That’s a shame. But not everyone should be punished for it.
Another one of my clients recently scheduled a date with a man from Match.com, and from his first name, city and age, she found his resume, or as she emailed to me, “FYI – an 18-page CV. Oy!”
Just the other day, I was helping a client plan a date with someone on Bumble, and with the combination of where her potential date grew up, his name and his school, she found his LinkedIn profile and decided he wasn’t successful enough for her (don’t even get me started on this) and refused to meet him.
Here’s what I propose: Don’t go out of your way to research someone in-depth before a date. While it’s certainly tempting, it’s also tainting the first date experience. Go in with an open mind instead of an encyclopedia of information. Maybe this person isn’t thrilled their divorce papers are splashed around the internet and would prefer not to talk about it. Or maybe this person is really proud of a particular accomplishment and wants to share that in person, rather than someone knowing at the outset. I know I prefer people to get to know me, the real me, in person.
Online dating is the tool for meeting someone, but there’s no substitute for a real, in-person conversation where you get to know someone, not where you already form opinions and confirm what you already read.
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, eepurl.com/dpHcH, for updates and tips. ©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC