Recently I was speaking with a young woman and her friend at a party and the topic of background checks when dating someone new came up. While first woman felt completely ok with doing one on a potential romantic interest, the other said that she could not see herself getting one for someone she was dating. When asked why, she said what I think may be a very common thought: that because she could be trusted, she felt like it would be betraying the trust of the other person if she did had their background checked.
In a way, I could empathize with her. I understood not wanting to feel like I couldn't trust someone. Combine that with the fact that sometimes people struggle with the fact that they don't want to know everything about a person’s history, because dating is hard enough already, and the prospect of having to verify who people are just adds to the difficulty. But in reality, it's not that we don't trust them, it's that we don't know them. And shouldn't we be taking the right precautions in an age where we aren't able to verify people through friends and family? It’s another step for sure, but an important one we shouldn’t ignore.
Consider the dating landscape: today more and more people are meeting potential love interests on apps like Tinder, OK Cupid, Bumble and Plenty of Fish. These potential mates are usually in no way able verified by friends, family, or colleagues as being "a good guy/girl", and those using the services are taking strangers at face value. But what we know about that person is only what they choose to tell us, and whether or not we can find anything about them on Google. Everything else is up to interpretation…and our trust. We often don't ask probing questions about work history, criminal history, and financial status because that would be rude. But how do we know that who we are talking to really is who they claim to represent online? Some researchers indicate that up to 17% of all Facebook profiles are fake. Also, all one has to do is Google the term "Catfishing" and realize just how prevalent the potential to be conned is. It’s an actual show on MTV…so at some point we should realize that yes, it really could happen to any of us.
Let's ask it another way: If you knew that the cute, charming guy you were planning to meet for a drink was a convicted drug dealer and already had a family...would you still meet him? Or if the attractive woman you had seen a few times and who you were starting to get serious with claimed to be an "entrepreneur", but had several liens against her and had been sued by her ex-boyfriend for not paying back a personal loan...would you continue seeing her?
There is only one way to find out that information, and it's to have a real background check completed by a private investigator that knows what to look for. Often a records search will reveal many things and answer many questions, especially when there may be some legitimate concerns in the back of our minds.
The other thing the young woman did not tell me but I feel may be a concern, is the guilty feeling that may come when having a check done, and the question of whether or not to tell the other person. While I can understand that feeling, I don't believe that having a background check done on a stranger requires you to tell them if you decide to move forward dating them, or marrying them. It is a private matter, and dating and getting into a relationship is a commitment to having someone in your life. We don't question when a business asks to do a background check on a potential employee, because we recognize that we have to trust the people that work with us, and verify who they are. Personal relationships are equally as important, and in this day and age where anyone can claim to be anyone they want to be, we should expect that our potential partners will check us out us when we don't have a friend or family network to rely on for information about who we are.
A thorough background check by a licensed private investigator can give peace of mind to any questions those dating online may have about the stranger they just met. Working with a PI can also help narrow down any specific concerns and clear up any nagging questions one might have before they get too deep.
The dating pool is full…we don’t often think about the lifeguard, but they are there for a reason.
Stay safe out there.