Oh, technology. You’ve got so much for us! Because of you, we could buy a designer dress from Italy, sell an unwanted present to someone in the US, and Instagram our latest meal to a friend in Poland—all while dressed in our pyjamas. But the Internet has created lots of new complications in our lives, too.
The latest of these has been dubbed ‘pre-dating’, a term used to describe Googling a potential partner before you actually have the chance to date. It’s a cheeky temptation that can potentially derail a romance before you’ve even chosen the venue for your hot date.
And it’s increasingly common. A survey by match.com in the US revealed that 49% of women would cancel a first date because of something they found when looking up a date online. “My friends Google potential dates more than they would admit,” says Amrita, a 20-year-old university student from Delhi.
“It’s taken for granted how much of your private information is out there, and until you search, you don’t realise how easy it is to access.” But while checking a potential new BF’s career history on LinkedIn—or having a sneaky snoop around his Facebook profile—can offer some conversation starters (maybe he’s a huge Tarantino movie buff, just like you), experts agree most of the time it’s downright detrimental. Here are five reasons not to do a sneaky pre-date Google:
1. You Become A Fauxpert
That’s short for ‘faux-expert’—as in, you think you know everything about a person without actually meeting them. “Often, the first someone online is false, because the information is inaccurate,” says Australia-based match making expert Trudy Gilbert. “You can form an unjustified and unrealistic view of someone, which isn’t fair.” Images run the biggest risk as there’s no context. For example: say a guy asks you out then you find a photograph of him dressed up as Darth Vader. It might have been for his seven-year-old nephew’s birthday party, not a nerd convention as you first thought.
Even worse, when you think you kinda already know the guy well (and in this case, you really don’t), you can end up developing feelings for him. For instance, seeing that he also loves dogs may make you like him before you even meet, which changes how you interact with him versus a complete stranger who you will slowly get to know.
2. There's No Mystery
Now that you know the hot guy who catches the same metro as you everyday to the same station, studies law, watches Modern Family and has a phobia of antiques—what’s left to discover? “It ruins the spontaneity,” says 27-year-old Manasvi, who also admits her friends are partial to online stalking. “It takes time to fully open up to a new person, and it’s the surprising little things you find out that make a relationship exciting.”
3. It Backfires
So you find out something controversial about a guy from the Internet—like he was once arrested for a drunken brawl, or he ‘mysteriously’ left a job after only two months— then raise it when you meet up. Don’t expect a gold star for doing your homework. “Questioning a person on the information you’ve found online can be disastrous,” says Gilbert. “At best he’ll think that you’re a busybody, at worst a spy with stalker tendencies.”
4. Dating Gets Disposable
Flicking between shopping sites is fun, but doing it with potential partners gives rise to a trend Gilbert calls “disposable dating”. “People are so quick to judge nowadays. They make an assessment then click ‘next’, thinking someone better will appear,” she says. “This is a terrible philosophy because you’re saying an immediate ‘no’ to someone who is potentially fabulous.”
5. You'll Just Hijack Cupid
Want to cancel your date because you found a gross-looking photo on his company website? Say goodbye to feel-good Pheromones. “Googling closes your mind to the possibility of someone, rather than opening it up,” says John Aiken, dating expert for rsvp.com.au. “You’ll miss out on the chance to experience his voice, his gaze, his body language—all of those face-to- face experiences that can make you fall in love.”