You’ve just met a new honey and your heart’s bringing out the banners and your body’s laying down the red carpet.  Awesome.

What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

I’d lay a bet that shortly after texting your bestie and sending up a gratitude devotional to Little Baby Cupid for sending you a decent human, you’re firing up your social media of choice to stalk the crap out them. 

And by ‘stalk’, I actually mean research.

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Because even though we could joke about inappropriate digging, the fact is that giving new intros and their connections a quick once-over online is not only de riguer, it’s kind of required if saving time, energy and self-respect is your thing.

In the greater scheme of life, the universe and everything, social media is still a very new tool of engagement and most people seem unaware of how much personal information they leak about themselves online in their projected realities and their interactions.

Your Mr Perfect Gentleman on your dating app might easily be a misogynistic, right wing troll on Twitter.

Your Ms Said She Was a High Flyer at Some Blue Chip Company, may have no digital footprint that confirms this.

A small dig into your charming Facebook flirt might confirm that they’re sending the same messages to every woman on their feed. 

Do you need to go through three dates or three months of texting to confirm these top-level problems?

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It’s why I support the initial digital ‘scope; a superficial reconnaissance to suss out the lay of the land.

And ‘superficial’ is all it can ever be.

As useful as it is to do a bit of quick online research, drilling down further than this – checking out ex-girlfriends, pouring over photographs – starts tipping you into the space of skewed perspective. 

Because everyone is a publisher curating their lives online and because everyone is an audience member projecting their own stories, connections, fears and wishes onto what they’re seeing, the digital space isn’t one you should base your more nuanced decisions on. 

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For that, only one dating tool is useful: Asking questions. Face to face. In really real life.

It’s the only way all your senses can be engaged in weighing up information and it’s the only way ‘research’ isn’t just weird online stalking.  

Information is power and all that, but it’s no good if all the information is make believe – either in your head or on their feed. 

Follow Dorothy Black on her blog or on Twitter.