Fact: Dating is very different than it was, say, 10 or 15 years ago. Social media and the internet have transformed the landscape — so much so that the odds of meeting someone organically (as opposed to online or via app) are getting lower and lower. The digital era has also made it so those mysterious first dates are not so mysterious. Yes, researching people online is now about as common as brushing your teeth and, some would claim, can be a crucial step in finding the right romantic partner.
According to a new study by employee screening and background check company JDP, 77 percent of the 2,000 participants reported spending 15 minutes or more on researching potential dates (per person). Yes, in today’s dating app culture more and more individuals are choosing to put on their detective hats before meeting up, and dating coaches are all for it. “In a world of social media and social platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, most people leave a social footprint of who they really are,” says Carmelia Ray, celebrity matchmaker and online dating expert. “If you know the person's real name and can do a quick search, it's not a bad idea.”
However, online dating expert and CEO of Cyber-Dating Expert Julie Spira warns to not go overboard when conducting a background check. “I always say peek a little, but don’t dig too deep,” she says. “[...] If you spend more than 10 minutes on researching your date, it can become obsessive, and you might end up with a snap judgment of someone that isn’t accurate. Nothing is better than meeting in person to see if your online chemistry can transfer to offline chemistry.”
While the latter statement is certainly true, for the sake of peace of mind, here are three valid reasons why a little research can go a long way when it comes to finding love.
You Can Determine If They Are Who They Say They Are
In this digital day and age cat-fishing and identity deception are certainly prevalent and becoming more and more common as online dating rises in popularity. Doing a quick search of someone can be helpful in determining if your potential partner actually exists and is who they say they are. “Having social media sites to validate who your date is has never been easier,” says Spira. “Everyone wants to meet a genuine and great person, and one who is available for a relationship, not just someone as a backup plan.”
That said, verifying facts is crucial. “If someone decides to do a little research and discovers some major discrepancies such as marital status, having kids, occupation [...] these are the main things to look out for,” says Ray. “If you find someone's Facebook profile and their last few posts show them arm in arm, or a living embrace with the same partner, that would be a major red flag. If you see someone posting about their kids, and they never told you about kids, this could be a red flag.”
You Can Detect Red Flags
Speaking of warning signs, there are a few things to be on the alert for when perusing social channels — some that can warrant calling the whole thing off entirely. According to the JDP study, research can indeed prove effective in turning someone off completely. In fact, 40 percent of participants reported backing out of a date because of something they found in their online research.
“Major red flags include lying about occupation or financial stability, marital status (they are NOT single), or any of your personal deal-breakers,” says Ray. “Deal-breakers in a relationship are the things that matter to you that would make or break the relationship [...] They are different for everyone, so a lie about a deal-breaker would be a good reason to cancel a date.”
You’ll Feel More Comfortable About Meeting
At the very least, a little research into your partner’s background can help take the edge off if you’re stressed about the first date. “When you have come from a bad experience, are a bit of a worrier, or are skeptical about people in general, you research people to satisfy your curiosity and to be more comfortable on your date,” says Ray. “You research to try and achieve some level of compatibility and relatedness [...] People tend to feel closer to someone when they know more about their lives. Some people may feel a deeper connection with their date if they are connected online as well as offline.”