9 Ways To Screen People Before The First Date

by Aly Walansky

We try to be romantic and spontaneous when we date, but we also have to be realistic — with our time, energy and with our personal safety. No one wants to waste their time with someone who's clearly a bad match for them. We've all heard (and probably had) first-date horror stories, so how do you effectively screen people before the first date without over-stalking?

“Prequalifying is an essential when it comes to smart, effective, efficient dating. Dating without the games, without the waste of time, and without the disappointment of going on yet another bad date. Yes, it takes a little time on the front end. But it saves a ton of time on the backend. It's also how you will find a match who truly makes sense for you —both your relationship needs and wants,” says dating expert Laurel House.

We're never going to find out everything when background-checking dates, but we shouldn't want to, either. Below, House goes through some easy steps to take when screening, not stalking, your date. From profile mapping and figuring out what you're even looking for (what are your priorities) to starting to communicate, here's how to do your dating homework and pick better dates, pre-date.

1. Narrow The Playing Field

The most essential, but often ignored strategy when it comes to online dating is ELIMINATION. “Yes, one of the benefits of online dating is that you are expanding your reach, and jumping into a huge pool of potential partners; still it’s important now narrow your options,” says House.

The way that you write your profile, the things that you say is your first opportunity to edit out the people who will, in the end, be a waste of your time since they aren’t right for you and never were from the very beginning. “You can try to narrow your reach within the preferences section: age, location, height, weight, smoker, etc. But many people actually ignore those preferences, plus it doesn’t address some of the more important particulars and personality types,” says House. You need to take a proactive approach and actually turn off the wrong people, while simultaneously turning on the right people.

2. Extract Their Purpose

Because you know your dating purpose, you now want to examine their profile to make sure that they are on the same purpose. Otherwise, it’s simply not a fit from the get go and you need to delete them, says House.

3. Profile Mapping

This is how you set your standards and compare each person using the same strategy, and it’s your first pre-qualifying opportunity. Train your eye to “map” every profile in the same way, scanning for your specific relationship needs based on priority. What are your priorities? Career, kids, religion, health, interests, education? “If your main criteria isn’t fulfilled… delete. Notice that I didn't say looks. You should look at the photos last. Remember that each element of someone character and characteristics should be weighed appropriately. When it comes to lasting love, does looks really rate higher than core values? Turn off the lights, can you have a conversation?” says House.

4. Look At Their Photos (But Not Their Face)

Once you start looking at their photos … before you look at their face, examine their environment, activities they are doing, other people, places and things pictured with them. “Everything in their photos help to show and tell who they are and what their lives look like,” says House.

5. Now Look At Their Photos

You’re welcome.

6. Start Communicating

If they sent the first message, great! If not, send them a short message (not a wink or instant message), referencing something from their profile that you relate to, says House. Make sure to also ask a question, giving them a reason to respond. Don't just say, “you’re hot, let’s meet!”

7. Do Your Research

If you start communicating with someone who are interested in, before giving any personal information — like your last name, phone number, place of business, or email address. House says to first use Google images to help you do a little background checking.

8. But Don’t Over-Stalk

You want to protect your safety before meeting someone in real life, but don’t go too far. Information to inquire, search or even stalk someone before a first date is readily available. You can ask a friend, do a search on the internet, check out their Facebook page or LinkedIn page, pay to run a credit report or even rummage through their garbage to run a DNA test or see if they have any sexually transmitted diseases....but when have you gone too far?? “Now with information everywhere where do we draw the line at screening someone before we actually meet them? Shouldn't you see if you like the person they present on the first date?” says relationship expert Sarah Patt with It’s Just Lunch Houston.

9. Schedule A Phone Date

If after several substantive back and forth email messages you’re still intrigued, schedule a phone date, says House. This should truly be like a date — set a time, then talk for as long as one hour. Be real and revealing. If, by the end of the call you’re STILL interested, set a date!

Images: Fotolia; Tumblr