You May Want To Think Twice Before Stalking Your Date On Social Media

It's a tale as old as time: you've just confirmed with your newest Tinder match that you're meeting for drinks this weekend. It can then feel like human nature to track down your date's social media, college memories, or that embarrassing school picture their mom tagged them in on Facebook. According to dating and lifestyle coach Clara Artschwager, we use internet stalking as a way to prepare ourselves for dating a stranger. If that sounds like you, you're not alone.

"We stalk in hopes to glean information about a person in advance of actually meeting them to — ideally — avoid some sort of discomfort," she explained to Well+Good, emphasizing that it is often a facade that makes little to no difference. "This notion ultimately represents a false sense of control." Although you may already be familiar with dating trends — like avoiding future faking or the love and connection of vanilla dating — online stalking is its own entity. Kicking your online stalking habits can help improve your dating life in ways you never imagined.

Understanding the facade of online stalking

First and foremost, it's important to understand the reality of online stalking. Immediately after finding your date's social media, you begin creating a story in your head without even meeting this person. As Artschwager explained, "You start to create a story about them based on random information and your personal dating lens, which consists of all your fears around dating and relationships," telling Well+Good that it only impacts objectivity.

"On the actual date, you're less focused on taking in the person in the present moment and more so hunting for clues that align with your preconceived story because you're working to avoid an upsetting scenario down the road." Without even knowing, you begin to draw an image in your head of who your date is, what they're like, and whether or not they'd like to see you again. It's likely you'll spend the rest of the date using small pieces of information to connect with your date (which isn't the same as connecting in person).

How to better prepare for a first date

Worry not: there are better ways to prepare for a first date that don't involve stalking. For example, someone's online profile offers enough information to learn their likes and dislikes. Take note of a few interests on their profile, brainstorm questions, and have fun facts of your own to offer. Leave room for curiosity, details, and more stories, which you'll learn are way more fun to hear in person than read about online.

As wellness coach Andi Lew told Well+Good, having in-person interactions is the only way to truly know someone. "If you're going to stalk, only do it enough to find out if they're a fake profile," she said. Once it's confirmed that your date is a real person, it's time to log out of social media accounts and prepare to get to know them in person.

Setting boundaries with your date

To make matters easier, it may be helpful to set boundaries with your date to ensure a no-stalking policy. Lay down any expectations you have for pre-date rituals, like not looking at each other's social media accounts until after the first date. It's always important to stay fair and loyal to your date, and that starts with communication. In addition, decide to meet at a public place like a coffee shop, bar, or restaurant.

It's also best to take precautions that ensure your own safety, like sharing your location and Uber ETA. Although protecting your identity pre-date is essential, so is maintaining safety before several dates have passed. Don't share your address or place of work, and take a car home rather than having your date walk you. While modern technology has pulled us into a whirlwind of online stalking, maintaining some traditional ways of meeting people will ultimately leave you feeling happier.