It’s no surprise that dating apps have found their way into many people’s lives; it’s super accessible and easy to use with little commitment required. But if you are new to the online dating scene, you might not know what to look for when searching for a possible partner. It can be exciting to find many good looking males in a dating app, but you might feel unsure if you want to meet up with that cute boy, girl, or genderqueer person next door that’s been messaging you for the past three days. They want to meet up, but meetups can be downright scary when you’ve heard about meetups gone wrong.
Well, look no further because I am about to impart some of the knowledge I picked up from my single college days: lurking is your best friend. Yes, it feels a bit creepy, and a mere ten years ago you could very well have been shamed by your friends. But times have changed, and lurking on social media (with friends watching over your shoulder, no less!) has become standard practice. If you want to stay safe, you are going to have to do your homework.
Now, the first thing you are going to want to do is figure out what you want to get out of this encounter. If you’re open to dating someone, you might want to dig a little deeper. However, if you just want to have some fun, no strings attached, a quick background check should do the trick. Get your detective mode on and get ready to have a little fun analyzing things with your best friend. Who knows? You might even pick up on some details that previously escaped your notice. Being blinded by lust is a very real thing.
A great way to start is to find your crush's Instagram. You can tell a lot about a person from what they post and who they feature in their profile. Based on what you see, you’ll have a better understanding if you’ll want to meet up with them or not. Here, you’ll get to see multiple shots of what the object of your affection looks like in their day to day life. This may or may not be important to you, but it’s always a good idea to see what kind of attire they wear on the regular because clothes speak volumes about a person. If they post lots of foodie pictures, for example, you can expect lots of food outings. If you see a lot of posts from ArtWalks around your city, well, such an excursion may well be in your future. Lurking an LGBTQ+ hottie? The person who frequents gay clubs will reveal their fun side on Instagram, but you may want to watch out for that if you’re not into the scene, especially if you’re not comfortably out of the closet. Gay circles can get quite large, and everyone knows everyone--meaning that they’ll know about you as well.
There are a number of types of possible things you may find, but if you see something you don’t like, then that is your cue to stop the advancements. If they have few pictures (or none at all), then your next best bet is Twitter.
On Twitter, you’ll be able to see the stuff your admiree is into, whom they follow, and if their ideas of fun, humor, or morals line up with yours. Perhaps you’ll stumble on something problematic, like racist views or homophobic posts that you’re not down with, and at this point it’s probably best you stay away. But if you like what you see, then chances are you’ll like who you meet.
The final thing, and possibly the most borderline creepy, is to figure out who his friends are based on his friends list and tagged photos. If the person does not seem to have many friends, that may be a red flag. Why is that--are they not likable or antisocial? Did they possibly create a fake side profile to get laid? This is especially important because who a person is friends with also speaks a lot about who they are. I once asked a mutual friend if this boy I was talking to was cool, but she warned me he was a little rude and not really pleasant. I didn’t heed her warning, and sure enough she was right. If you have mutual friends it might be in your best interest to ask what the guy is like. You can find this on Instagram and Facebook alike, though I personally don’t like adding guys on Facebook until I know them a bit better.
Ignorance is bliss until someone gets hurt, and it’s better to avoid ignorant dates who could potentially cause harm. Don’t feel too bad about lurking and invading a bit of privacy, because at the end of the day, you’re really only looking after yourself.
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