But, today’s question is – how much “preparation” is ok? And when does pre-date prep
stalking research cross the line into a place that will actually HURT your chances at a successful date?
I’m a big believer in using the variety of tools at your disposal to be prepared. But, how far is too far?
Many times, I will Google a guy before even agreeing to a date at all. I don’t always have this privilege because it requires having some basic information (last name, where he works, etc.) that online dating doesn’t always afford you, but if I can – I do. I will Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other available cyber stalk. And what am I looking for? I just like to get a sense of his personality outside of the profile HE wrote about himself. I also don’t mind verifying that he actually has a job.
Honestly, I’m really not usually looking for “dirt,” I just want to get a broader sense of who he is! Is his FB page full of political rants? Photos of family? Annoyingly “inspirational” posters? What is he passionate about? What does he like to DO? Could I show his Facebook profile to my mother? Does he play Farmville? This is very important. I say yes to Words-With-Friends and an emphatic no to Farmville. They’re very different sorts of guys… It’s like the Bloods and the Crips…only less stabby. But, back to our topic…
I know that some women will take it to the next level(s) as well:
– if they’re going out with an alleged millionaire, they can check out whether his company is registered with Companies House
– if the guy claims to be a musician, she can look for him on MySpace, YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, etc.
– and I’ve even had women I know call in favors from law enforcement family members and friends to run background checks.
This is certainly not exclusive to women. I know men pre-date-stalk too. In fact, the impetus for this post was a guy friend who started reading the blog of the woman he was going to go on a date with and asked me if I thought that was inappropriate.
(Inappropriate, not because it was ‘creeper’y, but because…is there such a thing as knowing ‘too much’?)
The trend seems to be – women would rather know more about a man ahead of time and men would rather discover these things in person. Why, you say? Well…that may be enough fuel for a whole other post, but …it has to do with trust, insecurities, fears, etc…. cheery stuff.
Here is my stance on all of this. I think it’s fine to collect as much information as you want to before a date. But the tipping point of how it will GO for you, is in HOW you use your information.
First…know that every piece of information you have – you have OUT of context of the whole person. So, while it may be integral data to your processing, it needs to be paired with the REAL person. Meeting and talking with someone face-to-face will ALWAYS shed light on who they are, no matter how much preliminary data you’ve collected. And once you have a feel for the real person, every bit of information before and going forward is now filtered through that lens.
An innocuous example of this is my blog. I’ve had people criticize its tone as being harsh or mean… but the people who KNOW me, “hear” my “voice” as they read it and hence, hear it as dry-humor or the silly rants of a woman who has a soft heart. They’ve seen my face, heard my voice, seen the tilt of my head or the wink of my eye as I say things, and now when they read, THAT’s the Sarah they ‘hear.’ This works with people you date as well. So – remember that all that information you gathered ahead of time is SANS real person.
Next…no overshares. When you’re going on a job interview, you WANT the potential employer to know you took the time to research their company, learn about the history, management, stats, etc. This impresses them. This does NOT impress dates. Just to clarify.
As in… do not lead in with any talking points, “So, when I read that article you wrote your junior year of college…inspiring.” Or, “those pictures of you in the bathtub when you were four are just precious.”……. chirp…. wide eyes… not a great date-starter.
The trick is to USE your information wisely. Remember…with great knowledge comes great responsibility.
(What…that’s NOT how it goes? Well… consider that my own pithy rule of thumb then.)
Knowing tidbits about your date is a great insider edge when making conversation, but use it sparingly and mostly as information in the back of your mind that helps fill in the master portrait of who they are.
If people will get to know the WHOLE person in the dating process, we’ll be that much closer to living lives of authenticity. And in then end… that is what will make a relationship work.