Thanks to the Internet, you can find out which middle school sports teams your date was on, what their resume looks like and what’s on their Goodreads list—all before you decide if you want to get coffee with them. It’s almost mind-boggling. But in the seven years I’ve spent as a professional matchmaker, I’ve learned that, although you can Google someone to your heart’s content before you meet them, that definitely doesn’t mean you should.
Yes, seeing multiple photos of your date’s ex can feel deeply satisfying in the moment. But it’s also a quick way to get hung up on a certain idea of who you think your date is—and that initial impression may be completely off. Does learning about the community service award your Bumble match won in high school really help you get a sense of who he is now and whether he’s a good match for you? Does the fact that the guy was president of his fraternity let you know if you share similar values? Not at all.
If you go into a date feeling like you already know a fair amount about the person, you’re setting yourself up for the inevitable disappointment of learning that the idea you have in your head isn’t in line with reality. After all, do your Google search results accurately convey a multi-dimensional picture of you as a potential romantic partner? I didn’t think so.
If you Google your date beforehand, you’ll go into your meet-up feeling less compelled to ask the types of questions that will really get the person to open up to you. I’ve found that you have a better chance of connecting with someone if you let them tell you about their accomplishments, hopes and dreams. Otherwise, you risk ending your relationship before it starts.
Instead of doing a deep-dive into Google before your date, I suggest asking them questions about information you couldn’t find on Google even if you searched for them.
Ask whether your date is a movie buff, where they last traveled and how they like to recharge. And remember to spend at least as much time listening as you do asking questions. The best way to see if you have chemistry with someone is to allow the conversation to flow. If you find you’re able to talk for hours and the conversation is so great that you don’t have to worry about remembering your pre-planned list of questions, you’ll know you’ve found something well worth a second and third date.
And once you’ve been out on a few dates, I give you full permission to Google them.
Carly Spindel is a celebrity matchmaker who has set up 85 couples who are now married.