He asked you out, and you said yes. Now, on to stalk all of his social media accounts.
Even though it starts out innocently enough, soon you’ve moved on to Googling their name. Then, you’re looking at vacation photos from three years ago. You think his dog is cute, and you’re wondering if you’ll meet at the restaurant that he frequents based on their Instagram posts. Before you know it, you’ve clicked on the profile of that girl who commented on his photos and you’re wondering if they ever dated.
It’s fair to say that social media has radically changed the way we date today. Social media is a rabbit hole, and it sucks in even the best of us.
If you’ve stalked your date’s social media profiles before meeting them in person, you’re not alone. 75% of women and 59% of men admit to checking their partner’s social media presence before they sit down for coffee, drinks, or dinner.
But before you accidentally like someone’s Instagram post from three years back, here are three questions to ask yourself.
1. Is your social media stalking taking away from those first date conversations?
Normally on a first date, you ask some get-to-know-you questions. You may talk about their favorite sport, hobbies, and what they’re go-to Netflix series is. Conversation may stay at the small talk level, but that’s okay. You’re getting to know each other, and there’s plenty of fuel for conversation.
But before you even sit down across the table with someone, your social media stalking could be sabotaging your first date.
Social media accounts can reveal everything from someone’s favorite movies to the city they grew up in. If you spend time scrolling through their Instagram, you can get a pretty good idea bout their lifestyle choices. Facebook will tell you about your mutual friends.
If your social media stalking has left you wondering what there will be left to talk about on your first date, you’ve gone too far.
Allow yourself to establish an authentic connection with someone by skipping the stalking. You’ll enjoy that first date much better anyway, since you won’t have to feign surprise when they tell you about their favorite movie or a memory from last year’s vacation.
2. Are you creating your own narrative?
A quick click on your upcoming date’s Twitter profile revealed that they disagree on some major issues you hold dear. Maybe you don’t line up politically at all. You haven’t even had a conversation about politics with them, but you think you know exactly what they’re going to say anyway.
Social media seems to reveal a lot about someone, but sometimes it doesn’t reveal the whole story.
“Because people who date rarely have a shared context of school or common friends, it’s much easier to create a fantasy of the other person before meeting,” writes Dr. Susan Kolod. She’s the Co-Chair of the Committee on Public Information of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
“The words and images one presents hook the imagination of the person looking at the profile. The fantasy may start even before a message is exchanged. This happens in a matter of minutes.”
You can read their pinned tweets, their featured stories, and dig through the list of groups they’re in on Facebook. But that doesn’t tell you about someones’ personality, style of humor, or passions. You can only find out those through getting to know them in good, old fashioned conversation.
Relationships are complicated enough. We’re not doing ourselves any favors by muddying the waters with unintentional interactions on social media.
3. What are you looking for?
We’re all a little naturally curious. I’ll admit it, I looked through my now-husband’s Facebook profile after he asked me out on a date four years ago.
Before you type your upcoming date’s name into Google though, take a step back and ask yourself what you’re hoping to find.
Are you wanting to do a quick check to make sure someone is who they say they are? When you’re meeting people online, it’s a good idea to be safe. Meet in a public place, let someone know where you’ll be, and have a plan just in case the date turns sour fast.
If making sure someone is really who they are is your goal, plug their name into LinkedIn and see if their job description matches who they say they are. Then log off and walk away.
Are you looking to expand your knowledge of them beyond what they put in their dating profile?
There’s no guarantee that the information you find via social media is legitimate. You could be browsing through someone’s Instagram feed, but come to find out that your date doesn’t even have Instagram Besides, wouldn’t it be better to just get to know them better in person?
Before you go on that next date, do yourself a favor and avoid social media stalking. Your first date will be more intentional, and you won’t have to explain how you knew about that trip to Hawaii they went on in high school. Everyone wins.