“Stalking” or “creeping” the people you’re matched with on an online dating site by researching them on the internet is the surest way to uncover more information than they’ve already chosen to share on their dating profile. And, believe it or not, there are constructive ways to go about doing it that will be beneficial to all parties involved.
Here’s our helpful guide composed of 10 tips on how to “stalk” the person you’re about to go on a first date with the *right* way.
1. Don’t dig up the past
First off, remember that the point of researching your potential date isn’t to find dirt on them. Rather, it’s to confirm that they really are who they say they are, or portray themselves to be, on the apps. By “stalking” them online, you’re trying to prove that they aren’t catfishing you by using someone else’s name and photos. If this person ends up being who they claim to be, you won’t want to start off on a bad note by digging up old baggage or assuming they’re fake (when they’re not).
2. Look for specific information
When you’re researching your date online prior to meeting them, you’ll want to look for (aka verify) a few key things. This includes ensuring that the information they’ve already shared with you or on their profile is accurate. You’ll want to confirm their real name checks out, they’re single (or in an open relationship) and ready to mingle, they haven’t committed any crimes that are worth running far away from, and that they’re not using someone else’s photos or identity.
3. Don’t go overboard
You don’t want to obsess over the process by spending hours and hours digging through the internet to locate what year they graduated high school, which preschool they went to, or how many pets they currently have. That information is going to be hard to find, and it’s not all that important to know anyway. You’re mainly looking to validate they’re authentic, not going to potentially harm you when you meet, and ready for whatever type of relationship you’re seeking.
4. Try to find their social media profiles
Social media is one of the best (free!) tools for casually scoping out potential partners you met on the apps. Say Nick’s Bumble profile mentions that he's a project manager at a digital marketing company, and his Instagram handle in his bio is the first letter of his first name and his full last name. Put the puzzle pieces together by combining his first and last name, then enter them into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn to see who pops up. From there, once you find their profile(s), you’ll be able to view more photos, confirm their job title, and ensure their relationship status isn’t “married” or “in a relationship” with someone else. Just be careful not to like any of their photos or request to follow them before you officially exchange social media handles with each other. That’s a bit TOO creepy.
5. Find them on pages they claim to be affiliated with
Does your date claim they don’t use social media? Odd. In today’s age of tech and social everything, that sounds a bit shady. Are they really who they say they are? Or are they engaged and looking for a side piece to chat with under the disguise of an attractive stranger’s identity? If you want to try to find their account, look up the pages of companies or groups they may be affiliated with. For example, search for their favorite band and see if anybody matching their name liked the band’s page. If you know the names of their friends, look them up on social media and see if your match is in any of their photos. This way you can verify their identity through their friends and interests.
6. Consider running a background check
For just a few bucks, you can find out if someone is legit or not with an online background check. There are services like Been Verified or Truth Finder that allow people to run a reverse search with nothing but someone’s name or phone number. It sounds more serious than it is, but it’s just a handy tool for times like this.
If you’ve moved off the apps and onto texting, punch their digits into a reverse phone number search and find out who they are. The type of information you might receive in an online search service like this includes, but is not limited to, the following: name, age, phone number(s), address(es), job title, past companies, family members, social media profiles, arrest records. Does the name on the report match your match’s name? Or does a 67 year old man named James own the cell phone that 27 year old Megan gave you? Fingers crossed it’s the former.
7. Google search their name
Google knows all. So why not consult it when you want to learn more about the person you might be going on a date with? Given you already attempted #1, you probably know their full name. Punch it into Google to see what comes up. You might be surprised at how much information is available, but chances are you’ll find the usual: articles in which they’ve been mentioned, their personal website or digital portfolio, any company affiliations, links to their social media profiles, and the occasional mugshot from prior arrests (kidding… not kidding).
8. Verify information they’ve told you during conversations
If you’ve already gone out with them and want to “double check” to make sure what they told you during your date is accurate, you can repeat the above process with the new addition of some keywords, depending on what you want to research. Were they really crowned “Brooklyn’s Hottest Man of the Year” in 2013? Did they really work at Google for seven years before becoming a CIA agent? Do they actually live in Atlanta? A few minutes of “stalking” might be worth your time to find out the truth about them before you confirm that second date with a liar.
9. Go straight to the source
If you haven’t found what you’re hoping to find, why not go straight to the source? Share your concerns with your match or ask them what you want to know. Start off on a transparent, honest note by telling them that you want to make sure they’re not leading you on. You can request a real-time photo via Snapchat, hop on a FaceTime call, or text them your concerns and ask for whatever information you want or need to feel at ease about the situation. If they refuse to answer your questions or insult you for being invasive, you’ve got your answer right there.
10. Use your “stalking” for the right reasons
Remember to always use your “creeping” for GOOD — not for harm or actual stalking purposes. This is solely intended to serve as a method for doing your due diligence to protect yourself from meeting someone in real life who isn’t who they claimed to be online. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
So you’ve researched your date as much as you wanted to and you feel confident about what you found. Do they check out to be who they claim to be? Awesome! If you’re happy with the results of your “stalking” and you still have a good vibe about the person, go ahead and meet up for your first date. On the other hand, maybe you’re a bit weary or skeptical about them, or you don’t like what they share on Facebook. The good news: you don’t have to meet them in real life if you don’t feel comfortable. Listen to your gut, and act accordingly. You can always cancel a date or rescind an offer, especially if they’re in a relationship or they had 10 too many mugshots in the Google search results.