The internet makes it easy to “learn more” about a person you’re dating, or want to date. Through online searches and social media sites, you can find someone’s age, occupation and place of work. You can learn about their pastimes and perhaps even their pet causes. But the fact most people are “Google-able” these days does not necessarily make it easier to find a match, let alone a soul mate, It’s Just Lunch research suggests.
One-fourth of women and 14 percent of men always do a Google search before a first date, and women are twice as likely to cancel the date without discussion should their internet sleuthing turn up something odd, according to IJL’s 2011 Dating Trends survey. Unfortunately, besides weeding out undesirables, online vetting can rule out prospective matches who come across better in person than on paper (or in pixels).
“I find I’m more likely to write off guys with public Facebook profiles or their own websites — there’s so much information, I can easily find something I don’t like,” admits Angie, of Atlanta.
Nearly half of the online investigators said they would keep a first date even if something odd turned up, and 33 percent would come right out and address what they found prior to the date or when they meet face-to-face. But what about the other half who peremptorily call off the date? Where safety is concerned, you should trust your instincts, of course, but should your romantic prospects hinge on a Google search?
Donna, of Chicago, admits she might not have pursued her relationship with Jake had she Googled him early on. A business owner, Jake was the target of a law suit — or so it appears. She found out there’s another Jacob with the same last name and in the same line of work, whom she and Jake jokingly refer to as his evil twin. “I shudder to think I might have missed out on true love based on a case of mistaken identity,” says Donna, who is now engaged.
On the flip side, online searches can stoke desire. Tom’s girlfriend of six months Googled him after their first date, came across his blog, and loved his views and writing. She then sent a friend request through Facebook, which emboldened Tom to ask her out again. “Being searchable and having an online presence ended up being a big part of why we’re together,” says Tom, of Baltimore.
But does a conspicuous online presence take away from dating and courtship? “I do think it takes away some of the mystery and excitement you should have, revealing yourself piece by piece on each date,” says Erica, of Phoenix.
Just how important is that sense of mystery, anyway? Angie tried to no avail to track down a man who’d intrigued her when they met at a reading: “His lack of an online identity actually made me more excited about our date,” she says.
“Although I do like to do my homework,” she adds, “I guess I also like a little bit of mystery too.”
Bottom line: As a matchmaker and private eye, Google is unreliable. And as a true judge of character, it’s highly suspect if not altogether useless.