Dating PSA: The less you know, the better. In terms of prior knowledge of your online date, that is.
Stop Googling your dates’ names before you meet them! I know we’re are all guilty of playing online detective to some degree. When you find out a fellow JDater’s first name, city, and profession, it’s usually not too hard to find this person’s LinkedIn or Facebook page (unless you are the equivalent of a David Cohen, ESQ in NYC).
The next thing you know, you have spent an hour in a trance-like state staring at the screen, reading up on this person’s entire career history, the names of his nieces and nephews, and every photo from the New Year’s Eve party he hosted in 2011. Believe me, I totally understand how tempting it is to extensively research someone online before your first date! This behavior, however, presents several potential perils:
- Particularly in the early stage of a new relationship, having more details about someone increases the chance that you’ll find something objectionable about him or her. Say you’ve been exchanging a few messages with ‘Mike’ and agree to meet him for drinks. But, a Google search session reveals his online poker activity or his habit of instagramming three meals a day, or his photo album from his cousin’s Bar Mitzvah last year when he was 20 pounds heavier with a bad haircut. These kinds of things are no big deal, but if you are feeling neutral about Mike, this prior knowledge will color your perception and produce a negative attitude toward the date. Once you meet Mike and develop a mutual attraction with him, you probably won’t care as much that he used to be heavier or that he likes to play poker. If you know this information and haven’t even met him yet though, you may never learn that he has a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh.
- Another potential problem with over-researching your date is that you might forget what you are “supposed to know” about him or her. Have you ever wondered if she said she had two brothers in her profile… or if you just saw it on Facebook? If you act surprised to hear about her siblings, but she mentioned them in her profile or in a message, she’ll think you weren’t paying attention. But, if you didn’t already discuss it, and you bring it up yourself, you’ll appear creepy! This is basically a lose-lose situation, so avoid it by remembering only the information your date gives you – nothing extra.
- Third, even if Google reveals good things about your potential date, beware of falling into the “good on paper” trap – the opposite of the situation described above in #1. This situation happens when you expect someone to be a great match based on prior research, but he isn’t. The Internet might tell you that handsomedoc76 went to Princeton, grew up on your Grandma’s street, and was a counselor at your camp. If you can’t hold a conversation with him though, or you don’t share the same values, then you might need to let go of the Google image you conjured up that doesn’t actually exist.
In conclusion, Internet research can be dangerous to your dating life! If you disregard someone because you find a picture of him with his three cats, you could be missing out on a great match. Conversely, if your date doesn’t live up to your high hopes, you could face disappointment. Step away from Google and go meet in person!