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March 2011

Will a Google search stand between you and true love?

GettyImages_96507639[1] 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. 

Get Down to Business? Not on a First Date

Most successful men spend the better part of their day working. However, that doesn’t mean they enjoy talking about their occupation when getting to know you. In fact, It’s Just Lunch surveys consistently show that men would prefer not to discuss work on a first date. If work comes up, men watch for signs that it’s their personality, not their profession, that is sparking your interest.

“I love what I do. And with the right person at the right time, I love talking about it,” says Jeff, a Dallas physician.

For Jeff, a first date is not the right time. But just because a woman asks about it does not make her the wrong person. It’s what she says and does afterward that matters to him. “I have had a few dates where things might have gone differently to assure me those women were interested in me and not my job title or earning potential,” Jeff says.

Acting impressed simply because Jeff is a doctor puts him on guard. “You can’t know on a first date that what I do is admirable,” he points out.

Finding out what Jeff does and then asking no questions feels as wrong to him as asking inappropriate things like how much he makes.

Clumsy: “So, you’re a doctor!”

Better: “So, you survived the rigors of med school. How did you decide on your specialty?”

The latter question suggests there’s more to Jeff than his title and provides an opportunity to find out what makes him tick.

Chris, a mechanical engineer, finds it “completely natural” to talk about his occupation on a first date. “It seems rather odd to me to not discuss what you spend most of your day doing when you’re specifically trying to get to know someone,” he says, “but I do understand why some men would have reservations.”

His advice: “Don’t ever talk about work right off the bat. Connect over something besides work first. Come prepared to talk about things you like and see what the guy picks up on. Share things that are representative of you as a person, such as a favorite vacation, a concert you went to, a book you’re reading.”

Asking what a guy did over the weekend, Chris concludes, probably will reveal more on a first date than what he does for a living.

The 3 R's: What women look for on a first date

Ever wonder what women look for on a first date? We spoke with eligible gals to find out how they size up men for relationship potential. What they generally look for are three things: respect, readiness and realism.


  • Show some respect to the wait staff. “I definitely keep an eye on how my date treats service people,” says Michelle, a 30-something single from New York. Acting supercilious, dismissive or rude is a turnoff and suggests to Michelle that you’re a power tripper.  “Don’t complain about the restaurant,” adds Lauren, 31, of Atlanta. “Make a joke about it if it’s awful, but nothing ‘sucks’ on our date. Not your day, not your boss, not the service, not the food. Everything is great because you are in the presence of a beautiful and exciting woman.”


  • Show you are ready for a relationship. “How many times a man mentions his ex is always a good indication of where he stands relationship-wise — the more mentions, the less likely he is looking for a committed relationship,” Michelle says.


  • Show you have realistic expectations. Readiness without realism raises a red flag. “Be super clear about your expectations for fun and not about finding a wife immediately,” Lauren says. “You cannot know that I’m perfect for you on a first date. Don’t act like I am. It seems fake.”


So there you have it — the three R’s women look for on a first date. Respect, readiness and realism. Surprised there’s not a fourth R, for riches?

Women generally aren’t looking for signs of wealth when sizing you up. And they certainly don’t want you to act as though your net worth should impress them. “Don’t tell me about objects you own, such as vacation homes, cars or the latest gadget. Not only am I not interested in these things,” Lauren warns, “but it will seem like your money is all you have to offer if this is what you start with.”

Dating through Twitter?

IStock_000002285748Large[1] Computers and social media sites like Facebook may touch every aspect of people’s lives, but a 2011 Dating Trends survey shows electronic media do not dominate the way people go about dating and finding a mate. Sixty-one percent of single men and women said friends and family are the best means of finding a compatible match, and a 96 percent would rather have a person select dates for them as opposed to a computer, according to an It’s Just Lunch online survey by It’s Just Lunch. 

Slightly more than half of the male respondents and just 30 percent of female respondents are open to going on a date with someone they meet on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter; however, only 13 percent of men and 9 percent of women have ever actually done so.  E-mail and instant messaging are regarded by both sexes as poor ways to get to know someone and gauge compatibility. “For as much as we use computers and the Internet, it still strikes people as impersonal. What’s more, even singles who ranked finding a compatible match as their highest priority for 2011 generally prefer to not use online dating sites,” says IJL Spokesperson, Irene LaCota.