When does investigating your potential date become stalking?

Given that it is not yet law for all dating sites to check the history of its membership, how do you check out the past of a potential partner? If, indeed, you do at all. If not, at least according to one report, you are very much in the minority.

Okay, online dating is now a socially acceptable way of meeting your partner. The uninhibited growth of social media and ‘respectable’ branding and advertising campaigns have seen to that. But that doesn’t stop the glorious picture of Heidi, the 22-year old lab assistant from London, turning out to be randy Roger from Reading, does it? As such, almost sixty percent of singles who have been approached to go real life dating via their online platform use other Internet sites to vet their potential partner before agreeing to meet up with them.

Social media platforms used to vet potential partners

Stalking your ex on the facebook is nothing new. Many of us have done it and lived to regret it. You see them on a smiley photo with their new beau, you get too closely acquainted with the ever-faithful Miss S. Artois or favourite Pinot Grigio and end up having a one-night stand with a total minger whose name you instantly forget and all just to ‘show them’ you’re not hurting. Yeah, right, well done! Then you’ve got to rid yourself of said minger – disaster!

However, in the absence of a legal prerequisite, singles on dating sites are doing their own investigating using Google, LinkedIn and facebook to corroborate dating site information before acquiescing a date.

On Jdate, a recent survey of 500 members revealed that, of the six in ten who trawl the ‘Net for added safety, more than a quarter used facebook only and one eighth only Googled their potential beau, but a further 20 percent used a combination of sources, such as the professional network, LinkedIn, thrown in just to be sure.

One word of caution. As much as we condone this type of activity, that first date is your first real chance to get to know the person you’ve met online, once you’ve satisfied yourself that Heidi definitely isn’t randy Roger, perhaps because her moustache is a different colour, I don’t know. But leave some of the mystery to unfold on your date(s). Do not, under any circumstances, over-investigate your subject.

If you sound like you’ve been checking up on them before you’ve met, it will sound like you’ve been checking up on them before you’ve met and you may just come across as slightly unhinged or stalker-ish. All that time and effort in research and you’ve scared them off a second date. So, yes, be sure; but also, leave the door ajar for a little mystery to seep through, a bit at a time, not fling open Pandora’s box like, well, like Pandora did. You may not be able to take it all in at once and still retain all of your noodles.

Hoping for more than just connections on LinkedIn

Have you ever used LinkedIn? If you have and know how it works, how’s about putting together an easy-to-follow guide e-book and firing a copy over this way? Okay, that may take some time, but have you checked it out this year yet? No, me neither.

Apparently, for the last month, there has been a shoot-off site ‘Hitch.me’ which draws upon your LinkedIn profile information and searches your network to find you a partner. Yep – a dating site for the working professional.

I have to be totally honest, considering it’s a networking site for the organised businessman and -woman, I’ve found it haphazard and the navigation – well, I think Uncle Albert was in charge when they planned that.

But that’s the main site. According to one recent report, members are ‘flocking’ to the dating site version – 2,000 members having signed up already in the month it’s been live.

However, there are already reports of one issue that all of the top dating sites have had to contend with and subsequently figure a way around: Hitch.me is already showing a bias towards the number of male sign-ups, with the men outnumbering the women six to four in these early stages.  We may soon see half-priced credits for women to redress this balance.

What the dating site does have in its favour, and this is prevalent in the reported statistics to date, is that the worry of dating someone with a job is more or less negated. Because of the way the ‘connections’ works on LinkedIn, anyone who claims to be working at XXX Plc can soon be verified by someone else on the site working for the same company in the member’s extended network, providing that the a.n.other responds to your invitation to connect, that is.

Hitch.me carries the LinkedIn business metaphor through into dating land with many of its features. Instead of sending a video message, you send your intended partner a ‘presentation’, which is paid for in ‘credits’ – 100 for this service. You can also ‘pitch’ a prospect for 50 credits. So, by my maths, two pitches and one presentation and the 200 credits you get for signing up, that’s your cashflow blown.

But it’s not such a bad system – whereas paid dating sites charge a monthly fee in perpetuity, whether you use their service or not, Hitch.me only deducts credits from your account when you use them. And at $10 for 300 credits or 2,500 credits for $50, that’s not a bad ROI in anyone’s books if you score with some of the more high-flying users who have signed up to the stand-alone site, which has been rubber-stamped by LinkedIn. In the same report, it relates that 51% of the new dating site members are on $100k per annum plus salaries…

…guys, I’ll be back later; just off to see what I’ve done with my LinkedIn password…sure I wrote it down here, somewhere…