First dates are fun. What starts as a drink with someone you don’t really know can blossom into something really great. Or in my experience just develop into a hilarious story you tell your friends over wine the next day. There are always some nerves before meeting up with someone, but these days there is rarely any mystery. In 2019, it feels like the pre-date social media sweep is part of the dating ritual. But is googling your date a good idea? When you are out there online dating it is good to have a little bit of security that the person sat across the table from you is who they say they are, but does it kill the chemistry when you already know everything you need to know about your date and more?
I would love to say that I am above the pre-date social media investigation but I pride myself on my skills of rooting through a potential date's Instagram feed at record pace. If I announce on a group chat that I am going on a date with someone from a dating app a conversation will ensue about where they last went on holiday or what that questionable political tweet was about. I would feel a little bit embarrassed, but it seems I am not alone.
According to a survey conducted by Match, where they questioned 5481 singles about their dating habits, 48 percent of women said they researched a guy on Facebook before going on a first date. A 2017 survey of Hinge users found that a massive 89 percent of respondents said they researched their date before agreeing to going out with them. Research by the risk mitigation specialists JPD found that of the 2000 people they surveyed 38 percent always researched their dates and 76 percent of those invested 15 minutes or more looking into their potential suitors. I guess no one could accuse them of not being thorough.
Whilst looking at your date's social media can be a good laugh with friends, it does also serve a pretty useful purpose. In the study conducted by JPD the top two reasons given by women for looking into their potential date were to check their criminal background and their work history. Dating coach and relationship expert Jo Barentt told me that one good thing to come from googling your date may be that you’ll know to some extent that you will be safe. She says, “from a safety point of view it’s not a bad thing. You can see who their friends are. As far as ensuring you are safe it is quite a healthy thing.”
With open Instagram accounts, Facebook pages dating back to 2009, and dating apps connecting you to all of your match’s social media pages it is easier than ever before to know what your potential date's job is, where they went to school, and what questionable hair cut they had back in 2012. However, just because you can look doesn’t mean you should.
Barnett says, “if you are looking to find 100 pictures to see if you still fancy them then I think that’s quite silly. Someone will be different in the flesh.” Dating apps mean more potential dates but I know I treat them a bit like a game. Barnett says, “people are quite reluctant to commit. It is a bit of a sweet shop and there is a tendency to flit and not identify with someones quality.”
There can definitely be too much of a good thing. Looking into a suitor before a date is a more efficient way of making sure you are going to be safe than having your friends sat at the next table hiding behind menus. That being said, I think I need to learn that I don’t need to do a 2 a.m. deep dive into their last relationship.