Should You Stalk Your Date Before Meeting Them In Person? An Expert Weighs In
It can be really tempting to put on your detective hat and run a full-scale investigation of your Tinder match before meeting them for drinks after work. After all, knowledge is power, right? It's only natural to be curious about what they post on Instagram... and from there, you might want to find out what pops up when you type in their name on Google... and before you know what you're doing, you're elbow-deep in their ex's mom's Facebook album from their family trip to the Bahamas two years ago. He looks like he really got along with her parents! You wonder what happened! Also, he looks so great with a tan! With that in mind, should you stalk your date before meeting in person? Or is that just a one-way ticket to creeptown?
Back when I worked as a matchmaker for a dating service, I was vehemently anti-stalking. I told my clients from the beginning that I would take their preferences really seriously, and I'd work hard to deliver swoon-worthy matches. But there was a catch — they had to trust me blindly.
When they walked into a date, my clients knew their match's first initial and a general idea of what they were wearing (so a client could walk up to a person in a blue sweater and say, "Hi, are you J?"). But beyond that, I gave them nothing. I figured if they had a morsel of information, they'd do a deep dive of their date on Google... and maybe even back out of the date if they didn't like what they found.
I learned that the hard way after one man shut down a date with just 15 minutes to spare, when his match was on her way to the restaurant. He had found a YouTube channel that cast the woman in a negative light. Except there was one major problem. It wasn't her.
I asked Michal Naisteter, a matchmaker from Three Day Rule, for her two cents. Is stalking ever OK?
Verify They're Real And Safe — Then Log Off
"You can look up a potential first date on Facebook or LinkedIn, but too much detective work will lead you down a rabbit hole," Naisteter says. "Keep it simple."
It's smart to verify that your date is a real person, and that they are who they say they are. You might want to:
- Type their phone number into Facebook's search bar to find their profile.
- Check their LinkedIn to see if their employer and alma mater match what they wrote on the dating app.
- Confirm their photos match (or at least depict the same person).
- Look at their Facebook and Instagram photos to see if they appear to be in a relationship.
- Look at their social media posts to see if they post any racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, or otherwise offensive content.
But beyond that, you can give it a rest. The information you can find online — the list of Facebook pages they've liked, the meme they pinned to the top of their Twitter — don't actually tell you much about who a person really is. It's much more revealing to meet someone for a date and hear their stories and jokes in their own words.
Know when you're in too deep. Or as Naisteter puts it, "You can Google everyone you know on this planet. But as much as you want to pre-judge someone, there is a fine line between checking they are a legit person and searching for things you won't like about them."
By skipping the stalking, you set yourself up for the possibility of developing an authentic connection with someone on the spot, instead of faking surprise when your date mentions their favorite band. (Do you know how hard it is to pull off a realistic-looking surprise face? A lot harder than you might expect.)
And hey, this way, you avoid the mortification of accidentally liking your Tinder match's ex's mom's Facebook pics.
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