Your safety should always come first, but what level of ‘stalking’ is acceptable?
Who hasn’t checked out their new date’s FB page at some point? Few people admit to it openly though – for most of us it’s a private activity and, like accidentally getting a little bit tipsy alone at home – we can’t help but feel slightly ashamed of it. However, it’s a sad (but true) sign of the times that it may be sensible to do a bit of checking up when we meet someone new, especially if we’ve met them online, in order to keep ourselves safe. So when should we do it and how much ‘checking up’ is ok?
I guess it depends on how trusting you are. It’s all well and good to assume that you’ll trust someone until they give you a reason not to, but sadly this has come back to bite many of us in the bum before. Generally, intuition doesn’t lie, so listen to it. If something doesn’t feel quite right then do a bit of digging. Similarly, if your new date seems too good to be true, then they probably are.
Here are some signs of dishonesty that you should look out for:
They rarely answer their phone and if they do they say they’ll call you back
They never seem to call you from home, only when they’re at work/at the gym/out for a walk
They’re very cagey about where they live and who they live with
They always come to your place but have a plausible reason why you can’t stay at theirs, such as they live in a shared house/with their parents/their children etc
They seem overly interested in your assets (financial ones, that is) and how much you earn
You realise that they’ve met your friends and family but you’ve never met theirs
Ok, if some of these are ringing true and you are suspicious, there are a number of ways to check up on someone. It’s really important, however, that you stay within the law and respect a person’s expectation of privacy. Obtaining information by deception is illegal. While they are some safer options you can try if you’re suspicious, is it ever really ok to do so?
Most of us feel the irresistible urge to take a sneaky peek at our new date’s social media profiles. That’s ok, as long as you don’t feel the need to do it constantly. If you do, then consider whether this is because you think there’s something dodgy about your date, or whether this is connected to your own trust issues. If it’s the latter, then frequent checking will make you feel worse, not better.
If you feel horribly jealous (and let’s face it, who doesn’t from time to time?) when you see a picture of them with their hot ex-partner, don’t keep torturing yourself by looking! Remind yourself that there’s a reason they are no longer with that person, and that they have chosen to be with you.
Checking someone’s phone, while it may throw up some interesting stuff, is a breach of trust akin to reading someone’s personal diary. Relationships are based on trust and if you feel that you need to do this then you don’t trust that person. Ask yourself, is it because they are acting suspiciously or is it because you feel insecure? If you find very explicit messages to someone else then ok, they are probably cheating, but what if you just find a call log with someone’s name that they have called or messaged frequently?
If you tell them that you’ve checked, then you run the risk of your date ending things because they can’t trust you. If you don’t tell them… well, that way madness lies. It won’t stop there and you could find yourself obsessively checking up at every opportunity.
If you feel insecure, instead of checking their phone, talk through your concerns with them. Anyone genuine will understand and try to reassure you.
Many a cheat has been found out when their suspicious partner has hung around outside their home, watching to see who goes in and out, or even going straight up and knocking on the door. Again, if you feel you need to spy, then there is almost certainly good reason for that. If you have to, you have to, but be aware that if you are seen and if you do it more than once you could find yourself subject to a restraining order or even a harassment charge. Think about how you would feel if this was the other way around and remember stalking is a serious offence.
Let’s face it, if your date doesn’t invite you willingly to their home or won’t let you pick them up there, they are probably living with someone else. Do you really need to check? Instead try explaining to them why you feel suspicious. If they are genuine, they’ll allow you to come round.
Cat-fishing is big business now, so you may want to take a few precautions if you’ve met your date online to make sure you don’t get scammed.
Google their name as this can sometimes bring up a great deal of information
If you have a name and location, 192.com gives information on addresses, including other residents based on the electoral role, so if your date has voted, they will be on there
Similarly, ancestry.co.uk has birth, marriage and death records of everyone in the UK, although the marriage certificates only go up to 2005
If your date tells you they have a business, is a director or works for a limited company, you can enter the company name on the Companies House website and it will bring up details such as who the directors are, where they are registered and their accounting history
If you’re really concerned there are various agencies you can pay for a full background check, which will tell you whether your date has any criminal convictions, outstanding CCJ’s, addresses they live at or have lived at and more. A full report can be obtained for around £15.
Lastly, if you have any suspicion that your new date may be violent, or has a history of violence you can contact the police on 101 and ask about them. If they have any history of domestic violence, the police are obliged to share that with you.