Oprah’s groundbreaking interview with Harry and Meghan sparked a ridiculous number of talking points.
They reminisced about how a mutual friend set them up on a blind date back in 2016. And for me, this segment led to the single most astonishing takeaway of all: Harry really was a blind date for Meghan, in a sense that’s becoming increasingly rare: she never even Googled him before they met.
“I never looked my husband up online. I just didn’t feel the need to—everything I needed to know he was sharing with me”, said Meghan. This echoes what she told the BBC in 2017, that she had just one question for their mutual friend: “Because I’m from the States, you don’t grow up with the same understanding of the Royal Family. I didn’t know much about him, so the only thing I asked when she said she wanted to set us up was, ‘Well, is he nice?’ Because if he wasn’t kind, it just didn’t seem like it would make sense.”
This must have taken some willpower—the temptation to look up a date on social media is palpable. But is it always a bad idea, or is there sometimes good reason to have a quick Facebook stalk?
Well, according to the experts—it’s a fine line.
Googling your date is normal—but is it healthy?
In today’s hyperconnected world, it’s rare to find someone like Markle who consciously avoids that preliminary traipse through a date’s social media. It’s just too easy—it’s all right there at your fingertips.
But first, let’s consider the fact that there are some upsides to having a peek, perhaps most importantly that you can vet for liars and catfishes. It also helps you check for values alignment.
Of course, Harry and Meghan’s situation was a little different to most of ours. There was no need for her to check his identity: he’s one of the most famous men in the world, and a trusted mutual friend assured her they’d be a good fit.
But for most of us, when we meet a total stranger on a dating app there’s a risk of deception. Even if this new person isn’t catfishing you, they may still be acting dishonestly in other ways. Looking them up on social media is understandable, perhaps even advisable—especially if you can’t quite put your finger on their vibe after you’ve been chatting for a while.
But to make sure your search doesn’t cross the threshold into obsessiveness, try to limit your browsing to answer these two questions—and then stop:
- What’s their relationship status? Does it look like they’re currently dating someone else? Is there a picture from a week ago in which they’re canoodling on the beach?
- How do they talk about their exes? Are they writing disparaging comments about former partners, saying mean things for no reason except to be nasty?
Social media can also help you check on some of your personal dealbreakers, like their politics and alcohol use and whether they have kids. This may save you time with someone you’d consider fundamentally incompatible. But if you don’t really have any non-negotiables, or all that information is readily available on their dating profile—try to forgo the social media deep dive. It can lead to self-sabotage without you even realising it.
Too much pre-date investigating can ruin the magic
What starts out as some innocent sleuthing can lead to unnecessary and unrealistic expectations on your first date. Remember, social media presents only a facade. Your date’s life will be as nuanced and complicated as yours. They’re not a tabula rasa on which you can write your fairytale—so if you are going to scroll through their perfectly curated photos on Instagram, keep in mind that these are only the highlights.
If you go into your first date with preconceived notions, you may end up spending the evening thinking about their online persona rather than about the person actually sitting right in front of you. And even when they’re perfectly friendly and fun, if they don’t seem the same as they were online then you’ll probably just get distracted or turned off.
Reserve your final judgement for the first date
Instead of ruminating over your date’s social media, try to trust your instincts. Attraction runs deep, deep into your subconscious—and those feelings exist for a reason. Go with them.
Don’t just see what everyone else sees on the internet. First spend some time with your date face to face. Get to know the person they present in real life. You’ll never get a true and accurate sense of someone’s values and character online, no matter how expansive their social media presence. Go old-school.
Do a Markle.
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