Most of us are guilty of the occasional online-date-stalk. Even those of us in committed relationships have been known to Google our significant others for any evidence of past relationships, crushes, hookups, and the like. However detrimental to our mental health, sometimes we simply can't step away from the keyboard.
New or potential new relationships are the most dangerous stalking territory. When you know little to nothing about someone new (except that you want to know more of them), the siren song of an Internet search is hard to resist. Do you need new-relationship techervention? Do you think you might need a new-relationship techervention in the near future? Bookmark this post for quick reference.
The question: "Should I Google him before our date?"
The answer: Yes, but only to make sure he's not an axe murderer. I'm a strong advocate against Googling a potential date, but where safety is concerned, you really can't be too careful. A quick scan of the first page of search results should suffice, no need to go five pages deep.
Oh, there's more. For some other straight answers to stalk-y questions, keep reading.
The question: "We just met. Can I Facebook friend him?"
The answer: It depends. Do you have friends in common? Are you a judicious Facebook friender? Do you have current potential professional ties or allegiances? Then, yes, you may. Did you meet him at a bar, at a concert, on the street, or in any other situation that he may find an out of left field friendship kind of strange? Then don't. The good news here is that Facebook friending is not a use-it-or-lose-it situation. You can always friend request him at a later date. . . say, after a good evening of flirtatious glances or similar banter.
The question: "He followed me on Twitter! He followed me on Twitter! Can I engage him with an @reply?"
The answer: Is the tweet reply-worthy? More important: is the tweet reply-worthy of showing up in your Twitter stream for all to see? If it's something really great, go ahead. If it's a tweet about his outfit, his dog, his lunch, his car, or anything else that no one else cares about, skip it. And, no, don't Direct Message your response, either.
The question: "I saw photos of his recent vacation to Mexico/South Africa/Nepal on Facebook. Should I bring it up?"
The answer: Probably not. And if he brings up his trip, it's probably best not to mention that you've already seen the photos. Besides, hearing about an awesome vacation from the source is much better than looking at his pages-long album. Same goes for embarrassing college photos, family vacation photos, or that one of him passed out on the floor with a Sharpie mustache.
The question: "His wedding announcement is on the first page of Google search results! What if he's still married?"
The answer I'm 99% certain that this guy has Googled himself, and knows that his announcement is easy to find, especially if it ran in a local paper (hello, local search results) or a major one like The New York Times. If that's the case, he's probably not married, and he's not thrilled that this result comes up, either. I wouldn't ask about it, but it's quite possible he'll bring it up. And if he doesn't bring it up after a few dates, I say it's fair to ask.