One of the first dates I went on was with someone I matched with on Bumble. She came across as confident, happy and well versed in the dating scene, and generally looked like being a lot of fun.
After diaries pushed us apart for a while we eventually agreed to meet up at a mini-golf place in the City for some cocktails and a game of golf. She got there a tad late, but sooner rather than later we were chatting away and I was trying not to show how nervous I was.
At that point I’d yet to think through the c-word issue and decide what to do about it. I’d been on one date where I’d brought it up in advance and it had been okay, had a few people ghost me as soon as I tried that tactic again and had been on a disastrous date where she hadn’t asked me anything at all about myself so it never came up.
This time around I’d avoided the topic in the hope of actually meeting up with her, which turned out to have worked. However, I couldn’t avoid it all night as, well, I quite liked her and wanted a second date, so I summoned up my courage and brought up that I was a dad of four. She was a little taken aback, looked like she was processing it and once I’d come back with another round of drinks gave me the impression that, while she’d rather have been told in advance, that it wasn’t too big a deal.
We went on a second date, then a third, and some more. We talked loads via messages every day. We built up a friendship. It was some point between dates four and five that she told me she had an admission to make. She felt guilty about something and thought I should know.
I was worried. What could it be? Was she already in a relationship? Had she somehow hidden all traces of a child of her own from her life and home so I wouldn’t run myself? Was she really famous or rich? Was she a hardcore drug addict?
Well, no (or at least none of those things have yet been revealed). Turns out she is a bloody good actor. The moment of shock after I told her I was a parent was fake. She already knew.
Using some surprisingly good detective skills she had taken my first name and the company I worked for, which was pretty much all there was on Bumble, and had tracked my surname down online. Of course, once she had my surname then pretty much she had everything else about me. That’s one of the blesses and curses of being the only person with my name to ever have lived; I can’t hide on the internet! She saw my Twitter profile, which mentions that I am a single dad of four, so was well prepped for my “revelation”.
Was I angry about this? That she had cyber stalked me a little and done some digging? That she had waited for me to verbally bring something up to see if I’d lie or hide it? That I was that easy to track down?
No to all of that and more.
I have never hidden on the internet. I’ve had some people in fact tell me I share too much. I think aloud to benefit from the crowd-hive-mind, and my online presence has been a key factor in several job offers. It would be wrong of me to want to use a niche degree of onine noteriety for my own benefit and then be upset when someone uses it unexpectedly. It’s not quite living and dying by the sword, but it would at least be hypocritical.
I actually marvelled at how smart it was for her to have done that. She did a little due diligence which paid dividends, and also got the opportunity to see what sort of person I was. Would I lie to her? Would I obfusticate? Or would I volunteer it unprompted? Thankfully I went for the latter, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten much further.
It has made me think too about how and whether I might do this myself with future dates. Okay, most people are little more difficult to track down than me, but still it’s worth a go. Ten minutes googling might throw up some interesting things, some warning signs or maybe even just something we can talk about. I won’t pry or try to find out anything to deep, but if she’s sharing something online it’s usually because she is happy other people reading it. That’s certainly my own rationale.
Looks like I’ve now got an excuse to sharpen my google-fu skills and dive back into the matrix every now and then. Should be fun.