You can’t help it if someone on the other side of the internet is a bad person. That’s up to them and their choices, entirely. What you can control, however, is who you actually want to pursue a relationship with. This isn’t that difficult to do, especially with everything that you can access online these days. Most people leave a digital footprint – it’s a big help when you’ve cliqued with a date online and want to meet them in real life.
Dating is hard, we know. Maybe the phenomenon of online dating has made it more difficult, or maybe it’s made it easier. It all depends on your perspective. We’re all looking for companionship and the person on the other end of the digital line seems to tick all your boxes. They’re attractive, intelligent, have a sense of humor that you just find adorable, and just might be the one.
How do you know for sure before taking the plunge, putting yourself in a vulnerable position, and meeting them? You’ve got to do a bit of research. It comes as second nature for many of us nowadays. Here are 5 reasons you should do research on your online date before you actually meet.
1. Are They the Person in Their Photos?
You’ve heard of catfishing, right? Reality TV today is filled with shows about the phenomenon. Why? It happens more often than we’d like to think! Catfishing is when someone isn’t honest with you about who they really are online, or what their real intentions are, and you only find out later when meeting them in person or trusting them to the point where you might give up something valuable (online or not).
Doing a quick search of someone is more helpful than you think. With so many social media sites around, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., it’s easier than ever to find out if a person matches their photos. Search their name across these platforms and see what you come up with. Plug their name into Google, too! If there are discrepancies, you’d know to be suspicious and pry a little further. However, this can be easily confirmed by just having a video chat with the person. If they don’t want to, they’ve got something to hide and meeting them in person would definitely not be a safe thing to do.
2. They Might Have a Criminal Record
This could be someone’s worst nightmare – falling for someone online and meeting them in real life, only to find yourself in a dangerous, predatory situation with someone who’s a known criminal or sex offender. The internet is your friend, so use it wisely. Doing research on your potential date can unearth crucial information about the person that you might be into. A Google search could pull up any information that might suggest that your online date has a shady past. If nothing suspicious comes up and you still have your doubts, enter their name and any other details you might know about them into Nuwber. This will retrieve any publicly available information about your love interest and if they do have a criminal record of any kind, you’ll find out.
3. Detect Red Flags
We’ve all got deal breakers when it comes to dating and relationships. There are some things that you just won’t tolerate – it’s your life and what you’re comfortable with, so why should you?
Red flags are warning signs that may pop up if you do just a little digging into the person’s history. If you’re not comfortable with a potential partner having kids of their own already and they knew this about you beforehand, they could have lied to you to move ahead with the relationship. The truth is, some people already know your deal breakers but would still want to take advantage of you, for numerous reasons.
Other red flags could be lying about their occupation or financial stability. They might even be married! Checking up on their social media accounts, if you haven’t already, will allow you to check up on whether they’re telling the truth about very crucial aspects of their life and lifestyle. A good place to start would be Facebook and Instagram to see if they’ve got intimate or telling photos up with other people (double check the dates that these might have been posted, if they do show up). Look them up on LinkedIn to figure out if their profile is consistent with what they’ve been telling you.
Depending on their privacy settings, their social media profiles could also show you other aspects of their lifestyle. Check up on their tagged photos and see what they may be getting up to with their friends (you’ll learn what their friend group is like, too)
Do your research – if any red flags become apparent while you’re looking these things up, do what you need to do.
4. Figure Out Their Views on Important Matters
You haven’t met each other in real life yet, so you’re still getting to know each other. You might think you know a lot about your online date already, but it may only be a drop in an ocean. Have conversations about deeper topics, like religious and political views. Check out their Twitter and Facebook statuses, posts, or comments. This should give you a good idea of what you’re looking for. Some of these things may mean that a future relationship is impossible – only research will tell.
5. Make Meeting More Comfortable
The result of all of the above is reason, in itself, to do research on your online date before meeting! You may just be a worrier and having an all-clear will give you peace of mind until you meet them, especially if you’ve had a bad experience before. Knowing more about your date’s life can also make you more comfortable, helping the meeting to go a little more smoothly.