Do you ever stalk people you meet on dating apps? I don't mean, like, showing up outside their house with binoculars — I mean scrolling through their Instagram to make sure they're not catfishing you, or asking your mutual Facebook friends if they're cool before you agree to a date. I know I do. And I wondered if guys stalk their crushes on Instagram, too.
If you're prone to putting your detective skills to work, you're not alone: 75 percent of women and 59 percent of men check out their date's social media profiles before meeting in person, according to a study published earlier this year by Australian dating site Elite Singles.
This terrifies me just a tad, because my entire life is visible online, spanning from Boomerangs of my cat on Instagram to sexual health stories I've written for work. So I had to ask guys: To what extent do they stalk their dating app matches? What methods do they use? And have they ever liked a girl less because of what they found? In other words: how worried should I really be?
Here, six men tell Elite Daily just how much they investigate their dating app matches before asking them out or meeting up for a first date.
This guy once stumbled across porn his match starred in.
"I once looked up someone's odd-sounding listed employment and found it was her porn stage name. It does feel like you skip a few steps in online courtship going straight from Bumble profile to watching her deep throat. I thought it was hilarious. Good for her for being loud and proud about who she is.
I don't usually stalk people online unless they've provided a handle. I don't have a problem just meeting up in person, and what I find usually is not that helpful anyway. What unfortunate nugget am I going to find with a LinkedIn or Twitter feed trawl besides like a regressive political opinion or an overuse of Mean Girls memes? Just meeting someone doesn't drain me too much, so I'm happy to actually learn about someone the old fashioned way, warts and all. I recognize this is a privilege considering women have more of a concern — and rightly so! — of murder by strangers, but I don't usually feel threatened by the presence of another.
It's nice if you happen to find, like, a Forbes 30 Under 30 profile on someone, but most of the time, it's just a bunch of Instagram posts of dogs, eating, and dogs eating. I get the thrill of online research. It's sort of like being a private eye and we all want that smoking gun moment, but most people — and I include myself in this — just aren't that interesting."
— Dan, 30
This man looks at your profile to help him plan the perfect first date.
"I usually check out their Instagram if they put that info in their dating app profile. You can tell a lot about someone from the pictures they take and the captions they write. (I used to use Facebook for 'background checks,' but it's basically just a meme-sharing site now and not much use. I'll try to find out basic information about what they like to do and their beliefs. For example, if I see that she likes Thai food, I can take her to a Thai place she might not know about instead of being kinda basic and going to Yardhouse or something. Also, making sure you match with someone ideologically is increasingly important.
My research usually goes from scrolling through her timeline, to Googling locations and interesting events in the area, to reading Yelp reviews of restaurants, and then compiling a mental list of the 'best' things to do. I like having a lot of back-up plans in case something goes wrong or she isn't interested in the main event I have planned.
To me, the biggest red flag is when I can tell girls have recently deleted a lot of content from their social media. I've dated a few girls who I thought weren't active on social media, but were really just looking for a rebound or trying to get their S/O back for something.
There was an incident a few months ago when I was scrolling through a girl's timeline and saw a series of blatantly anti-black memes and captions. I blocked her."
— Alexander, 24
This guy feels like stalking is an invasion of privacy.
"I usually don't do any research before going on a date. I'd rather learn about my date through conversation and through whatever she wants to share with me. Even though anything online is public, it feels like an invasion of privacy. I only look up matches on Facebook, and that's only if I'm curious about our mutual friends."
— Tyler, 24
This dude encourages his matches to stalk him so they feel safer.
"I currently have a partner, but before her, I did a lot of app dating and did a little bit of stalking. If their Instagram was connected, I looked at that. If I thought they seemed very interesting, I'd ask mutual friends. I mentioned my Twitter in my bio and sort of encouraged people to social media-stalk me, because I know how dangerous it is for women, and including information like that can definitely help assure them that I'm safe and real.
I also tend to be pretty open about the research. I will definitely say things like 'Oh, you know Sam and Alex? Does that mean you’re a theater geek too?'
As a big theater and music fan, I have definitely also encountered women who I knew from their art. This is always weird. When do you say, 'I know you, I’m a fan'? How much do you acknowledge it?"
— Ben, 28
This man tries not to stalk that often.
"If we have any mutual friends, or if I can see what they do and where they went to school, then no, I don't stalk. (Otherwise, I'll Google their name to make sure they're real.) Sometimes, if I'm undecided about a person, I'll look them up on Facebook to see their other photos, but that's rare. If we have a mutual friend that I trust maybe I’ll ask them what they think.
So much of our internet presence isn’t controlled by us. I have writing from high school and college on the internet that I now disagree with (and cringe at). Knowing that I wouldn’t want someone to judge me based on stalking, I try not to do it to them. I sometimes still stalk, but for the most part I really try not to.
I’ve never really taken advantage of this, but I think the most powerfully underrated stalking tool is Venmo. Most people forget that their interactions are public, and who you are spending money with is a more accurate indication of what you’re doing than Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. No one ever looks or thinks about their Venmo feed so It’s less curated and chalk full of information."
— Laurence, 25
This guy stalks because he wants to confirm you're on the dating app for the right reasons.
"I matched with a girl once, and as soon as we started messaging, she revealed that she had a boyfriend, but her modeling agency had encouraged her to get on dating apps and put her handle in the profile to build up her follower count. Similarly, I matched with another girl who seemed really sweet and interested at first, but then quickly shifted gears and asked that I follow her private Snapchat account for a one-time $30 fee to prove that I both had money to take care of her and was truly interested.
When I put links to my social media accounts on my dating apps, it's usually because I'm not convinced I have conveyed who I am on their platform, and thus want to give women the chance to learn more. This isn't typically the case with the women I've come across, which sort of paints me into a corner where I can't help but stalk a little."
— Wes, 27
If you're really concerned about being the subject of your date's next detective mission, you can always lock down your accounts' privacy settings. But unless you're posting racist memes, you probably have nothing to worry about — and if you are posting racist memes, I really can't help you at that point. Just don't. Stop. You're a terrible person.
If your accounts are open to the public, you might get stalked, and you might not. But you always have a weapon at your disposal: stalking your matches right back.
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