How people date has undergone a cultural and logistical shift in the past decade. Rather than meeting people out in your daily life, if you’re currently on the dating scene, it’s very likely you go out with people you “meet” online.
Dating apps make it easier than ever before to connect with people, and it creates the opportunity to build relationships in an entirely new way.
At the same time, there are some downsides. For example, what do you really know about someone before going on a date with them?
Trending on Netflix right now is a slew of series and documentaries about so-called swindlers pretending to be something they’re not.
From a person who might not have quite the career credentials they say they do online to a safety risk, there are a lot of reasons you might consider doing a background check or at least a little research on someone you’re considering dating.
At a minimum, you might want to check out a person’s social media profiles before agreeing to see them in person.
If you’re wondering whether or not to check out the background of a potential date or romantic interest, the following are things to keep in mind.
Could They Be Hiding Something?
It’s easy for people to create online personas and lie about small things to impress people, or perhaps very big things.
Catfishing has become increasingly common, as an example. With catfishing, a person creates fake profiles on social media accounts. The person might just want attention, or they could be trying to lure you into something more sinister.
Even if someone is theoretically who they say they are, they could still be hiding certain things about their life.
It’s normal to keep some things about ourselves close to the vest when we first meet a new person, but there are very big things that people can hide from you. For example, maybe someone has a DUI, tax liens, or isn’t actually divorced.
There’s so much other information that you could find out that you don’t find appealing in a partner or could even be scary to you.
At a minimum, checking someone’s criminal record can help you know whether there’s any history of violent or sexual crimes. You do need to keep in mind that just because something doesn’t show up on a criminal background check doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. There are some instances where a person can be arrested, but no formal charges were filed, or the person wasn’t found guilty.
On a criminal background check, you might learn about arrests or convictions, warrants, and sex offenses.
You can also use sex offender registries, and this is especially important to check if you have children.
When checking into a person’s background, you may or may not decide to look at their education and employment history. With this, you have to be careful. If you find something that doesn’t match exactly what the person told you, is it an unimportant omission or a red flag?
If your relationship could progress to a more serious level, you might look into tax liens or bankruptcies.
Social Media Profiles
It often costs money to check on criminal and financial records, but you can find social media profiles for free.
Go beyond the social media profiles that the person you’re talking to might have told you about. Search to see if there are any others out there.
Check on the major sites like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
You might also be able to type in someone’s last name and find someone related to them if they’re not on social media or they claim not to be.
There are countless stories of people thinking that they’re going on a date with someone, and then social media helps them figure out that person is actually married or something else.
Don’t forget about LinkedIn while you’re checking social media. This can help you learn more about someone’s career and education. There’s a higher risk of consequences for lying on LinkedIn if your employer comes across it.
Use a Reverse Image Search
If someone has sent you photos of them or they have photos on their dating or social profiles, run those through a reverse image search on Google. Then, you’ll see other places the photo has been published.
Tinder’s Now Offering Background Checks
Interestingly, if you want to do background checks right within your dating app, Tinder recently announced it would perform them for $2.50 if you swipe right.
The news came after the expose on the Tinder Swindler debuted on Netflix. The Tinder Swindler story is recounted from the perspective of several women who gave thousands of dollars to a man they were dating, thinking he was a wealthy diamond heir.
If you go through Tinder, the feature is located in the app’s safety center, and then you’re taken to a third party, Garbo, for the check.
What If You’re Already In a Relationship?
A lot of people are getting into relationships later in life, often after meeting online. They may date or get married, and when you’re at a later phase in your life, you tend to have accumulated more assets making you a target.
Once you’re in a relationship, if you start to notice red flags, you might look into the person’s background more than you did initially.
If you’re going to do this, there’s probably a good reason you feel compelled. You have to listen to your gut, especially if there are red flags.
Some people are nervous to check into the background of someone they meet online or might have already formed a relationship with. They worry the person could get angry or feel like they don’t trust them.
The reality is, the dating world has changed, and it’s smart to evolve with it.
It’s better to protect yourself even if you risk upsetting someone rather than finding yourself in a situation you can’t undo.
If you’re concerned about how the other person might handle it, talk to them with transparency about the fact that you’d like to learn more about them and see how they handle it.