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You Asked: I Googled Him And Didn't Like What I Saw!

You Asked: I Googled Him And Didn't Like What I Saw!

Dear Sugar,
I just read E. Jean's advice about online dating and it reminded me of an issue that I'm having right now. I recently met a guy online. We've been emailing back and forth and he seems nice, charming, career oriented and he's quite cute, too. So far it's nothing serious, I'm just having a good time getting to know him. We recently exchanged phone numbers and had our very first conversation last night — it was easy and not at all forced. After we hung up I felt hopeful about a guy for the first time in a while. Just for fun, I decided to Google him. I ended up finding information about his legal past and to my shock and horror, he spent 45 days in jail for verbally intimidating a woman who had pressed charges against his brother for domestic violence. It was originally a felony offense for "witness tampering" that was reduced to a misdemeanor. I wouldn't have expected him to volunteer this info so early in our getting-to-know-you phase, but at the same time it makes me feel very uncomfortable that he has a secret past. He didn't actually commit violence, but the idea that he threatened a woman who was victimized by a member of his family makes me concerned that he might have been socialized to believe that violence against women is OK. I want to believe that he learned his lesson because he seems to be a productive member of society, but this new information has put up a bunch of red flags. So my question is this: Do I give him the benefit of the doubt, ignore his past and judge him based on the way he's treated me thus far or do I move on to the next guy? – Freaked Out Phoebe

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Freaked Out Phoebe,

Since you're seeing red flags, I think you should tell him that you know about this part of his past. You're right, since you're still in the getting-to-know-each-other phase, chances are he didn't feel comfortable telling you just yet, but in all fairness to him, you really don't know the entire story — until you ask him, we can only speculate. Google can be a great source for information but it can also make mountains out of molehills if you don't have all the information, especially the back story.

We all know that you can become anyone you want on the Internet but most online dating services prescreen their clients, so make sure you're using a reputable service. Now I wouldn't just give this guy the benefit of the doubt Phoebe— you need to get answers before you continue with this relationship. Once you hear his side of the story, I'd listen to your gut, trust your instincts, and make your decision from there. Yes, the way he treats you now is incredibly important, but so is making sure you're safe. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
Hannah426 Hannah426 9 years
A criminal record is not excusable under any circumstances.
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
online guy. potential jerk. move on. some say to just ask him, but come on. how do you think he's gonna react? even if it's not true. you're gonna look like the thirsty girl who googles people because she has no life (not my opinion of you). it's not like he's your boyfriend, so don't take the chance. i'm sure there are other guys that sent you a "wink" on the dating site. i swear, some people waste alot of time contemplating things that are so black and white.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Nourche- the issue isn't whether someone should date someone who is verbally violent, but what reaction you would have to finding out about someone's legal troubles online, and what sort of action to take.
nourche nourche 9 years
well, i would move on...but that's just me. I just can't stand verbal violence...
Sydney-C Sydney-C 9 years
Having a *minor* criminal record myself, and seeing my convicition online, I have to say that it looks worse than it is. Also, my best friend just married a man who has a felony conviction for domestic violence. Apparently he was set-up by his crazy ex. My friend was pretty shocked at first, but he told his side and she has never seen that supposed side of him. Bottom line, do not walk away without hearing his side. In my state, you have to register as a sex offender if you get caught urinating in public. Not exactly fair if you ask me.
jaxon jaxon 9 years
Ask him... legal terms can and are scary. The details ACTUAL of the incident might be different. You can tell someone to F-off and it's considered harassment. All you see are charges when they are not always congruent with the actual events b/c of plea agreements/sentence negotiations.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Oh, I'm also curious whether or not he actually spent that entire 45 days in jail. Look at Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie...
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
It's a red flag, for sure. But, I'm curious whether or not his brother was found guilty in the domestic violence charges. I'm curious about the language "pressed charges" versus saying something like "the girl he was convicted of domestic violence against". It would make a difference to me whether or not he verbally intimidated a girl who made up bogus charges against his brother or someone who truly was abused by his brother. I have to say, though, that I am actually shocked that you can get put in jail for 45 days for "verbally intimidating" somebody. That seems insane.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
This is a huge red flag IMO I just had a friend that went through a nasty divorce because her ex was not up front. She had the police at her door within 6 months of returning from the honeymoon checking to see if he lived there long story short she found out he is a convicted sex offender. I think you need to definitely speak to him about it and also go to the court house and read through all of the court documents as well as the police report these should all be public record and make sure you understand everything you are reading if not find someone that can explain it to you.
linb linb 9 years
First make sure that it is the same guy. It could be someone that has the same name as him. I once Googled myself and found another girl with my name associated with a few amateur porn movies. She was also about my age, same hair color/style, etc. If somone had never met me but knew my name, maybe saw my picture on a dating site, they easy could assume that the porn star is me. And like the others have mentioned above, there are two sides to every story. Think about every time you have ever said something that could be considered a "threat". It may not be as bad as you may think, or it could be worse. You'll never know until you ask him. I would let him know up front that you looked up his name. You Googled him because you want to know what you're getting into, before it is too late. That sounds like a smart idea to me. And I think his reaction will really be a good test to see just how far this relationship could go.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I googled my friend out of boredom once, and found an article that said she had to spend the night in jail because she was driving drunk and made a wrong turn onto the train tracks and her car was hit by a train, but she was able to make it out on time. Obviously not true!! People can easily make up a bunch of crap. I'd dig a little deeper and not straight up ask him about his legal past, but determine his behavior to certain situations by asking questions about violence towards women, etc. Just don't make it too obvious.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Definitely red flag material. But how long ago was it? 10 years ago? 10 months ago? That would make a huge difference to me. Agree that you should just ask him about it. How he responds (anger, irritation vs. calmness, understanding) will probably tell you volumes in and of itself.
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
I don't know. That kind of sounds like a deal breaker to me. Definitely ask him about, especially before you meet, if you decide to get to that point and then make your own decision.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
I was going to say just forget him, it's not worth the hassle, but I think you should ask him too. Don't give him the benefit of the doubt though, definitely find out what happened. Something similar happened to me. I started dating my boyfriend at the end of senior year of high school and some of my friends told me that he had been abusive to his last girlfriend before they broke up. They pretty much took it as a fact. I was really surprised (and I hadn't heard the rumors before that, luckily) and I asked him about it. He told me that his ex had told everyone that when they broke up partly because it was a pretty nasty breakup. Other than saying "no I didn't" at the time, he didn't really go around telling people what really was happening, that her DAD had been hitting her, because he felt so badly about it, he thought the rumors would just disappear. A year later, they were on better terms, and he had her talk to me about it (mostly so that I could get my nosy friends off my back). Okay, long story, but I just wanted to let you know that sometimes there are really are crazy stories behind things. However, it's not likely, and I wouldn't give him the benefit of the doubt, just find out the truth! You don't want to date someone who is capable of ANY sort of violence to women, even if he's "changed." So not worth it.
lexib0t lexib0t 9 years
Just ask him about it, that's the only way to get to the bottom of it. There are two sides to every story. My brother has dated some crazy women that have threatened to hit themselves and then call the cops because he was breaking up with them. I could easily see my other brother confronting the girl about it and it getting all blown out of proportion. Too many times, we (people as a whole) jump on the wrong side of things and ruin things because we automatically assume the worst.
smileyface smileyface 9 years
I think that you should talk to him about it, but be careful how you approach him and bring it up. He might be kind of taken aback that you were googling him in the first place. Good luck!
vmruby vmruby 9 years
I think you have every right to see this as a huge red flag.What if the information you found out about this guy is true.Threatening a woman(who was already victimized by someone in his family) is not just anything and asking him doesn't necessarily mean he's going to tell the truth.I'd drop him like he's hot......
Lele777 Lele777 9 years
I would find out more information before judging. My husband has a felony record for aggrevated assault and battery. What he did was minor and in self defense. His family and friends even discussed it with me. I have been with him for a long time and he has never made me feel in danger.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
It couldve been a bogus charge. 45 days for verbal intimidation? She could've just pressed charges because he said something like "you suck". I dont think it sounds all that bad :shrug: And everyone's going to have some kind of a secret past.
kia kia 9 years
Whoa. I would ask, definitely not ignore. It is amazing what you can find online.
missyd missyd 9 years
Hmmmm I'm with mn48225. I'd ask him about it first.
mnp mnp 9 years
I'm not too sure how you found all that information so easily with just googling. I also believe that sometimes what is written on paper might not be completely accurate. So, like DearSugar said ask him and then, judge for yourself.
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