All of the reasons you should — and shouldn’t — look at your date’s social media before going out

Looking up your date online can be a good thing and a bad thing.

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Looking up your date online can be a good thing and a bad thing.
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iStock

  • Before going out with someone, many people look up their date online to learn more about them.
  • Searching online for information about your date comes with pros – for starters, you can better verify that the person you’re meeting is who they say they are.
  • But looking your date up online comes with some cons. It can lead to misinformation or it might make it tough for you to keep an open mind when you meet them.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

It can be tempting to get the down-low on a potential match by scoping out their online persona, but meeting someone in person can often tell you worlds more about someone than their digital trail.

To find out the pros and cons of looking up your date online, INSIDER spoke to dating and relationship expert Sameera Sullivan and best-selling author and relationship expert Susan Winter.

Here’s what you need to know before you do an online sweep for information about your date.

Looking up your date can help you verify that the person you’re planning to meet is who they say they are

For safety reasons, it’s always wise to verify the identity of your date before you meet up with them. Unless you know your date’s friends or family in real life, you might have to rely on search engines like Google to gather some information that can help you research who exactly you’re going to meet.

“The pros are you know who you’re meeting. You can see their social-media profiles. You can see if they’re legit,” Sullivan told INSIDER.

Read More: 10 signs you’re being catfished – even if you think you aren’t

With a quick search, you could also learn some handy basic information about the person you’re meeting

Knowing basic information about someone, such as what field they work in, could be useful on a first date when you’re trying to make conversation.

“I think it’s good to do a preliminary [search],” Winter said. But you might want to keep your search pretty simple – Winter said she recommends you wait until after the first date to do a “deep dive” search about someone on the internet. This way, your first impression of your date is less likely to be greatly impacted by what you find.

But the assumptions you make about someone based on what you find online could work against you

“I think most people go too far. They will find all sorts of pictures and videos. Just too much information,” Sullivan told INSIDER. “You’ll basically know so much about that person because most people can’t stop and you go on a date and know everything about them. You’re pretending like you don’t, but you really stalked them. You have assumptions about that person already before you’re going on a date.”

These assumptions could make things a little bit awkward or could cause your first date to seem disingenuous if you find yourself asking questions you already know the answers to since you found them online hours ago.

You could also mistakenly learn information about the wrong person, especially if you’re embarking on a blind date

You might be looking up the wrong person who just happens to share a name with your date.

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You might be looking up the wrong person who just happens to share a name with your date.
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iStock

If you’ve ever searched your own name online, you’ve likely encountered search results for other individuals who happen to share your name. So when you’re looking up a date, you might find the wrong “John Doe,” so to speak.

Winter said you might then end up going into your date with a preconceived belief that your date is not who they say they are or is someone else.

The information you find about the person could be exaggerated or untrue

As Sullivan told INSIDER, people can fabricate or dramatize information on even the most professional platforms so you’ll want to be careful what you read. Winter also added that it’s possible to bend the truth without making up information completely so you’ll want to take what you find online with more than just a grain of salt.

You might get the wrong impression by Googling your date since the person themselves isn’t around yet to explain or clarify anything you find

You might misinterpret some photos or posts.

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You might misinterpret some photos or posts.
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iStock

Whether you find recent photos of your date with a previous partner that make you question their relationship status or a strange article about this person, you can’t exactly raise these possible red flags to the person you have yet to meet.

As Winter said, the best way to learn things about a person, such as their true relationship status, is to directly ask them about it. But one of the biggest issues with searching for someone online is that they aren’t with you to explain themselves or any strange photos, curious Tweets, and mysterious statuses you might come across.

Being overly analytical of your search results might reduce your ability to keep an open mind on the date

When you go into a date with preconceived notions about who that person is, you might be losing out on a potential love match.

Sullivan told INSIDER it might be tough to forge a special bond with someone if you’re being overly analytical and intrusive about someone’s online persona before you even meet them.

Overall, researching your date might make you a bit afraid to take a risk and meet someone new, especially if you find a few things online that you feel a little bit uncertain about.

But as one expert told INSIDER, if you do an online sweep before your date, you might want to just be candid about it

If you accidentally (or purposefully) reveal that you’ve gleaned too much about the person you’ve met for dinner or drinks, don’t worry. Online researching your date is a pretty common practice and you shouldn’t be embarrassed that you’ve done it, though it’s worth noting that every person may not take this revelation well.

“I would tell people not to feel ashamed if they’ve [Googled their date] because it’s fairly common. And it becomes a more common practice once you actually like a person after the first date. Because naturally, you want to protect yourself. You want to fact-check,” Winter told INSIDER.

Ultimately, as Winter told INSIDER, you might want to just put your internet sleuthing aside when you start to feel a genuine connection to your date.

“When you start to feel attached to them and you feel a real connection, you may want to put that all aside and take a leap of faith, a leap of romance, and go for it,” Winter said.