Alison Taylor on relationships: WhatsApp with all this researching potential dates online?


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There are certain things in the dating world that you are unlikely to ever find out, no matter how hard you might try – and it's probably for the best. Like, did that person take against me after what they found out by 'researching' me online?

It crossed my mind recently, after not hearing from a bloke who has now twice said he's going to get in touch to arrange a drink. Of course, it could be for any number of reasons, including his own death, but intuition tells me it's the research thing. Why? Well, he did seem very keen to find out my last name (my first mistake) and then, when quizzing me about what I do, I ended up revealing that I'd written a book as well as being a journalist. Both great search terms to be further explored. It's only a matter a time until he finds this column... erm, hi!

I haven't got anything sinister to hide. If anything, I reveal too much – it pays to hold back. You don't want to find everything out about a person up front. It's not healthy, but most of all, it's not accurate, either. When does a person's avatar ever represent them in the real world? And how often do you find a person's wit in real life doesn't quite stand up to what they knock out on social media? That happened to me in reverse recently when a guy expressed surprise that I was funny in person but, well, not so much on Twitter. I am still not sure if that was a compliment or not.

Humour is a cruel mistress. I once went out with someone who I'd 'met' on Twitter. This is not something I make a habit of, I might add, but we'd been chatting for a while, and I'd convinced myself that we shared some deep connection based on the inane things we seemed to share and find funny. He seemed funny. In person, this charisma wasn't quite so pronounced when we sat down with a drink and he opened with: "I've got a killer first question for you – what's your favourite kind of crisp?".

Sometimes, though, a person's social media persona can put you off even after you've met them. A friend of mine is currently dreading the arrival of a Scandinavian squeeze she met on a recent trip to Copenhagen. Last month, she was practically going to marry the guy. Now that he's actually coming to visit, it's all but dead thanks to his constant Whatsapping, tweeting of cute animal videos and, frankly, abnormal passion for emojis. Then came the deal-breaker: "He's changed his Facebook pic to one I really don't fancy him in". Step away from your devices, people. You have been warned.