How Pre-Date Stalking Could Cause A Good Potential Partner To Slip Away

Nearly everyone is guilty of doing a bit of digging on someone they're planning on going on a date with. Whether you scope out that person's LinkedIn profile or dig them up on Instagram, it's not uncommon to do a bit of detective work before that first date. If you've met this person on a dating site, most people go lurking to ensure they've not stumbled upon a catfish. Others want to know if their new friend already has a romantic partner before getting too far emotionally invested. While all valid reasons, going too far down a rabbit hole is not recommended.

Dating experts don't suggest diving too deep into one's background. For one, that doesn't leave you the opportunity to get to know them personally, and for two, it's just plain creepy. As Smart Dating Academy founder Bela Gandhi told the Chicago Tribune, "Research is a big part of having fun and staying safe in the [online dating] process." But, she encourages singles to snoop around just enough to confirm whether or not it's safe to date their new interest. A Google search of their name is enough to find any criminal records or troubling news headlines — save the rest for the first date.

Too much pre-date stalking may taint your views

Lurking around someone's social media can be fun at first, but once you begin to form unfounded conclusions, it then steps into the realm of judgment. Looking at someone's Instagram photos and seeing them holding bottles of alcohol may lead you to conclude that they're a bit of a partier. Or noticing the guy you're interested in holding hands with a woman in a recent Tweet might leave you assuming he's in a relationship. Meanwhile, that woman could be his sister or best friend. We're all guilty of drawing unfounded claims from social media, which is why too much pre-date stalking is not a healthy habit.

Dating coach Clara Artschwager says too much sleuthing creates a false sense of control that is driven by the fear of being ghosted or cheated on in the future. She explained to Well + Good, "You start to create a story about them based on random information and your personal dating lens ... It's very, very hard to remain objective. And then on the actual date, you're less focused on taking in the person in the present moment and more so hunting for clues that align with your preconceived story because you're working to avoid an upsetting scenario down the road." Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, heartbreak is not always something we can predict. Instead, it's better to live in the present and actually enjoy the connection being made.

Why have a first date when you already know everything?

The lead up to a first date should be an exciting time. They serve as an introduction, allowing both parties to explore relationship potential. It is nearly impossible to do this if you've already discovered everything there is to know during your pre-date stalking.

Imagine snooping around someone's Facebook profile and finding photos of them at Disney World with the caption, "The greatest place on earth." A first-date question such as "Where is your favorite place in the world?" may have already been answered via a picture you came across. However, you'd be missing the context — "What makes Disney World so special to you?" or "Why is that your favorite place?" — which makes for great conversation. Childhood memories or time with a deceased loved one might be the reason they've grown so close to the theme park. If you've already done the digging, you'll be less likely to explore that topic during that initial encounter.

Don't complicate dating by overloading yourself with preconceived notions gathered from social media posts. Too much pre-date stalking may cause you to miss out on a potentially excellent connection. If you find some unsavory things within their internet imprint, ask about them. Even if it leads to some first-date awkwardness, they'll have a chance to explain their point of view. You may find that things aren't always what they seem, and hearing each other out can build trust between you.