While online dating in 2021 is socially acceptable (now, more people who marry meet online than any other way), it can still feel sketchy to meet someone whom you know little about outside of what their EliteSingles, Bumble or Zoosk profile says. After all, you don’t likely know anyone in common, and you’ve heard the horror stories.
However, take it from me: While the Internet gets a bad rap for giving rise to nefarious behavior, technology is also an incredible tool for checking people out, doing a quick background search and meeting incredible people you would not encounter otherwise.
Here’s how to have fun with online dating — in a way that is hopefully more safely done.
BeenVerified is a quick, inexpensive way to do a reverse phone number lookup or email search to try and learn about a person’s criminal and arrest records bankruptcies, past addresses — as well as whether there are indications that the person simply is who he says he is.
Meeting someone you met online in real life
First, when you connect with someone interesting online for the first time, it is important to figure out who they are in real life. This can usually be done by asking them to take the conversation off the dating app, and onto email, text or a phone call.
Of course, an initial phone call lets you learn a lot about the person, and see if there is enough initial chemistry to move forward with a date.
How soon should you meet someone you’re dating online
It’s important to move this conversation along quickly to a call (if you want), and on to an in-person date for two reasons:
1. If you drag out the text conversation and prolong actually meeting, your imagination will take over, and your mind will create a version of this person that will absolutely not match him or her in real life. The sooner you get actual data via a call or physical date, the better the sooner you can assess next steps — if any.
In other words, if you’re wondering, Can you really fall in love with someone online? The answer is: No, you cannot fall in love with a picture and self-description that you see on an EliteSingles profile. But you absolutely 100% can fall in love with someone you initially meet online, but then meet in real life. So get on it!
2. Once you get an email or phone number, you can try and check this person out via their social media accounts, Google searches (once this led me to a news article about a single-dad architect I was chatting with online. Turns out he had recently been arrested for possession of meth), as well as a background people search.
What do you do when meeting someone online for the first time?
When you meet for the first time after connecting on a dating site, keep it positive, fun, not too formal, and mutually convenient. Make sure you both drive, and the activity is easy to get out of if you’re not having a good time, or get weird vibes. For example, going on a hike, even on a popular trail, is better for a second date, since you could find yourself stuck in an annoying conversation on the entire trek.
First date ideas:
- Meet for happy hour drinks at a restaurant equidistant from both of your jobs or homes (if you’re having a good time, you can stay for dinner).
- Go for a weekday lunch.
- Meet at a local bar to watch the game.
Meet someone online?
Online dating got a reputation early on for hookups only. While you can certainly find quality booty calls, friends with benefits, a cougar situation, and other casual relationships online, Stanford University researchers found that the most popular way couples connect for meaningful relationships is online.
I can attest to this. Since my divorce almost 10 years ago, I have met many wonderful men — some for a fun date, others for one-night stands, a few I dated for several months, and three I fell in love with — including my current boyfriend of three years.
How can I meet someone online more safely?
How to background search someone you meet online for free
Here are a few quick, easy and legal ways to try and learn about the person you are interested in dating:
- Google their email or phone number. You can also plug these pieces of info into the search bar of Facebook, LinkedIn or other social platforms
- Do a Google image search to find a person by photo. Right-click-copy their profile picture and paste into “images.google.com.” You may be surprised to find that another social account comes up — or not.
- Look in the sex offender search. This is a dark place, but to try and rule out with greater probability, go to the National Sex Offender Registry, or find the registry for your state — and search by name, or address.
Where to get a background search
There are several quality people search companies that can help you get accurate, quick information on pretty much anyone. BeenVerified is rated by the Better Business Bureau, has been around more than 10 years, and claims to have more than 1 million users.
There are various plans, but most BeenVerified prices start at $17.48/ month, BeenVerified gives you unlimited:
- Background reports
- Phone and email lookups
- Criminal record and sex offender lookups
- Address lookups
- Contact information
BeenVerified has an app for both iOS and Android, as well as the website.
How long does a background search take?
For most searches, a background search will take a few seconds to run online. If you require a deep dive into a person’s past, requiring retrieving of court records and other documents, it may take weeks. But if you feel the need to go that far — just go back online and find another date!
This post was created in partnership with BeenVerified.