Tips and Tricks for Prescreening Your Potential Dates
Dating post-divorce can be many things: thrilling, exhausting, exhilarating, awesome and sometimes harrowing. For many of us, getting back into the dating scene requires learning a whole new set of skills. In today’s world of instant information and multitasking, nearly 31 percent of U.S. internet users are turning to online dating apps to help them find their next match. While swiping right may be an easy, no-risk way to indicate your interest, what happens when it’s time to progress from chat messages to an in-person meeting?
Approximately 53 percent of online daters admit to lying on their profiles. While you can’t ever be sure of whether something someone says online is true, prescreening your dates is a good way to boost your chances of success. Here’s a rundown of the questions to ask and warning signs to look out for.
It’s very common to find out the person you’ve been messaging isn’t quite what you expected when you meet up in person for the first time. And while things like chemistry and shared life goals can be more important than if that person really has the six-pack from that photo on the lake, being dishonest about pictures and hobbies can show a lack of integrity or a tendency to manipulate.
When you’re meeting people online and then transitioning to in-person dates, we recommend starting slowly. Take the time to get beyond surface-level exchanges about how your workday was or what you’re doing this weekend. Ask yourself, “is this someone I can imagine enjoying an actual conversation with?” The first time you meet up, choose a public place that’s low pressure, like mid-afternoon coffee or a breakfast date. Never meet for a first date at a private location such as your date’s home; this is not safe, and public spaces offer you the chance to meet someone more safely for the first time. Always trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right or you get a bad vibe from someone or the situation, it’s totally OK to make an excuse and leave. You don’t owe anyone anything; a simple “it was nice to meet you, but I don’t think it’s going to work for me to see you again. I wish you all the best.”
One of the most common pitfalls of online dating is that a lot of people use inaccurate profile pictures, either to make themselves look more attractive than they are in person (think photoshopping, or using a photo from 10 years ago on day when you had professional make-up done) or photos that are taken in terrible lighting or are otherwise simply unflattering (guys, here’s a hint: no one wants to see a selfie of you in your bathroom!). Inaccurate photos can mean what you see isn’t what you get.
When it comes to your own profile, it’s best to only use pictures from the last 2 years. We recommend using flattering but accurate photographs that include at least one close headshot, one full body photo, and a few additional photos of you doing things you like to do. It can be worth it to hire a local photographer to get some great photos of you outdoors, or doing something you enjoy!
While you can curate your own profile, you don’t have any way of knowing how accurate the other person’s pics are. While you could just ask directly, a softer tactic is to trade recent pictures or have a FaceTime call before the date itself. If you have doubts that this person is going to be a good match for you, or worry their photos might be inaccurate in a way that’s important to you, A FaceTime chat or recent photo swap can go a long way towards helping you decide if the investment of your time and energy is worth it.
Just as with resumes, some people also exaggerate heavily in their online dating profiles. Someone who says they’re a rock climber may only have gone once, and “weekend hiker” may mean a walk on an unpaved path. Asking more in-depth questions about hobbies and employment can help you get a better idea of the level to which this person shares interests, lifestyle choices and hobbies with you.
Last but not least, it’s important to look out for your safety when you’re meeting a stranger, online or otherwise. A good rule of thumb is to run a basic Google search for their name, check social media profiles and check the court records in your county and surrounding areas. This will let you know if there are any major red flags or absolute deal breakers for you. We strongly recommend not sharing your phone number, exact physical address (either work or home), or your last name with a person until you are at least sure that you want to meet them in person – then it would be appropriate to swap phone numbers, but last names and physical addresses can wait until you feel absolutely comfortable sharing your identifying information with this person.
Online dating is an efficient, and many times effective, way to meet new people, and prescreening your dates makes this process even easier. Increase your chances of a match by being open and honest about yourself in your own profiles and doing your due diligence when it comes to theirs. Before you agree to a meetup:
- Double-check that their pictures are an accurate representation of themselves.
- Have a quick video chat to verify identity and get a first read on whether you two have chemistry.
- Do a basic background check to identify any potential red flags and keep yourself safe.
- Don’t share your own personal identifying information until you’ve met your date in person and feel safe with them. It’s okay if it takes a few dates before they know your last name or the street you live on. If they have a problem with this, they’re the problem.
- Keep an open mind — dating post-divorce can be as fun as it can be nerve-wracking! We suggest remembering that the other person is probably nervous, too. And in the even that a date goes terribly, remember that you can probably turn it into an excellent story to share with your friends over laughs! Don’t take a terrible date too seriously.
If you haven’t dipped your toe into the dating world, apps can be an easy, low-risk way to get an idea of what’s out there. They can be a wonderful tool for connecting with new people and finding people with similar interests that you might not otherwise meet. Take action by choosing two or three apps that seem to match your dating goals and create some profiles and upload flattering, accurate pictures. If you’re already online, take the next step by making the first move and inviting someone you’ve been chatting with for a face-to-face meeting — after pre-screening them, of course.
By Molly Blue Wilder