Do I tell a potential online date what google revealed about her?
April 28, 2010 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Online dating. Found a girl I like. I started digging, and found more than I was probably supposed to - or did I?

So yes, I found someone on an online dating site. Something about her just struck me, and soon enough I was trying to suss out who she really was beyond her name in the voice greeting. Well, her dating username let me to twitter. Her full name there led me to FB. The profile was private, but pointed me to the motherlode - her blogspot blog. Before I could even question myself, I read a bunch of it in fascination - it told me everything I could possibly want to know and made me fall in love with her 10x harder.

Now I don't intend to be like Matt Dillon in Something About Mary and scam my way into her heart. But I undeniably feel guilty and stalkerish for doing this, despite the fact it wasn't that hard to connect the dots. Still, if I get to the point of asking her out, what then? Do I tell this person who values honesty the truth up front? Do I save it for a later confession in the relationship (assuming we go down that road)? Or do I never ever reveal this transgression, leaving a sort of lie at the foundation of our relationship?

Or did she want a smart guy to figure it out? As for me, I'd want to wait to show the real me. Of course based on my real name you could easily dig up my personal (but not truly private) LJ, flickr, etc accounts. So maybe I tell her it's only fair I reveal my supposedly hidden online self to her so she can make an informed decision.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I think a certain amount of internet detective work is just plain due diligence when it comes to online dating, though maybe that's because I'm partly female and have a strong interest in avoiding potentially dangerous creeps. I don't generally mention that I've done it, though. It's come up on occasion, no one seems too weirded out by it, and most guys seem to see it as a challenge to then figure out all my personal accounts.
posted by adiabat at 11:22 AM on April 28, 2010 [7 favorites]

You need to be completely upfront with her immediately, and try to come off as completely not-creepy as possible, something along the lines of "Oh hey, so I thought your username seemed interesting so I googled it to see if it was from a movie/book/television show/song and I think I stumbled upon your blog. Do you blog under the same username? Cool!"
posted by banannafish at 11:26 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

The information was all public, so there's nothing wrong with you looking at it. That's what it's there for.

When I had a dating profile, I had a link to my blog in it. My (now) boyfriend checked it out before contacting me, and at some point mentioned that he had done it. I didn't have a problem with it; in fact, it was kind of flattering that he was interested enough to bother.

To me, it wasn't that big a deal. But I would recommend waiting until you've established a relationship of sorts before you mention it. If you hit her up with that info in your first contact, you'll probably come across as needy, at the very least.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:26 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

it told me everything I could possibly want to know and made me fall in love with her 10x harder

OK, just so I understand, you've not actually met this person right? If so, let me clarify: you are not in love with her, and you certainly don't know everything you could possibly want to know about her.

If you do in fact meet her, why don't just ask her if she blogs or whatever, or bring up blogging in conversation, etc.. and then you have a reasonable reason to know about her blog. I don't think leaping in with "oh i read that thing you posted 4 years ago and I fell in love with you right away" is a particularly bright way to start a relationship.
posted by modernnomad at 11:26 AM on April 28, 2010 [31 favorites]

As long as you don't use the information you gathered for evil, I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe tell her later. anybody that has all of those accounts knows that it is relatively easy to connect the dots. If you wanted, you could wait until it developed a little more then mention it in the context of you wanting to learn more about her (a sign that you were thinking about her in her absence).

If you do use it for evil (like in conversation bringing up that all of your favorite shit is her favorite shit) simulating a connection that may not have otherwise existed. Then well, you are "kind of" a bad person but still not the worst in the world and probably not even the worst suitor she has run in to.

I think you are overthinking it a bit. You were interested, you looked at publicly available stuff, you learned more about her, the end. If you are using the information like a stalker, then yes, you are being stalkery, and you should stop...

Easy, no harm, no foul.
posted by milqman at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2010

Some people get a little freaked out hearing that someone found information on them that, even if publicly available, required effort to connect the dots. Some don't, because they're aware that this effort can be minor and we're all curious beings by nature. I think if you get to know this person a bit more, you'll see which reaction is more likely. Still, if you want to play it a little safe, I would recommend you not mention the blog until you legitimately learn her name. It's easier to go from there to "Out of curiosity I checked if you have a facebook account, and there was a link to a blog there - so I ended up reading some of it. I have to say, you're a fantastic writer."
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2010

In my view, you didn't do anything wrong, but I doubt she's _expecting_ potential suitors to find this stuff. She might abstractly know that someone might connect the dots, but most people write online without a clear sense of who will be reading it.

I don't think you need to make any kind of grand "I've seen your online presence so I'll show you mine" gesture. That will just be weird and overly dramatic. If she wants to look you up, she will.

Otherwise, I think you just proceed like you don't really know her yet because really, you don't. When she mentions that she has a blog, then talking about her blog is fair game. But until then, I think bringing up your deep dive on her online background is just overwhelming. I think (in general) people expect that people they meet will Google them to dig stuff like this up, but I feel like it's generally good policy not to bring up stuff you learn there until you actually learn it face to face. My instinct is that although people write stuff online so it's read by others, they like to feel like they're progressively disclosing information about them, and you short-circuited that gradual process. So if you give her that courtesy of not bringing up things you wouldn't know about any other way, this can be a totally normal process, except you have a better reason to believe that you guys might be a good match than she realizes.
posted by heresiarch at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Hey I was bored at work and thought it's be fun to Google you. What an awesome blog you have! I really thought _____ about _____ was totally ______!!!"
posted by exhilaration at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2010 [19 favorites]

Bring up blogs in conversation and ask if she's ever tried blogging. If she says, "Oh yes, I have a blog, here's the URL," then your problem is solved. If she doesn't mention it or says she has a private blog she'd rather not share, then it's probably best if you try to forget having seen the blog and don't mention it again (unless, of course, she later feels comfortable sharing it with you).

BTW, someone who uses Blogger has the option of making their blog private so that it's only viewable by people they invite. Also, I think you need to opt in to have your blog indexed by Google. I can't read her mind about how protective she is of her blog content, but by default I'd assume she's probably fine with anyone reading it. (People who don't want the world reading their blog shouldn't have a public blog.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:29 AM on April 28, 2010

Don't announce that you've searched for her username online.

Do introduce early (earlier than you would otherwise) the subject of blogs, profiles etc. When she eventually brings up the blog, or you make it seem natural to ask her if she has one, say you'll check it out and from then onwards you can gush about its contents.
posted by fire&wings at 11:30 AM on April 28, 2010

You're getting way ahead of yourself. Stop reading her blog and contact her. See if you two click. If you go out, wait until the second date (if there is one) and then say, "Hey funny story--I thought you were so cute/cool/interesting on that I googled you, and found your blog, and I read some of it, and anyway, you're totally charming. I wanted to let you know that I'd read a bit of it because it seemed sort of weird not to mention it."

Be honest, but don't be so aggressively honest that you freak her out. Don't say anything about "falling in love" with this woman based on her blog. That's guaranteed creepy. You're charmed. You're interested. You're not in love. Just talk to her. She probably didn't intend for everyone on the dating site to find her blog, but obviously it isn't private. You should tell her eventually if the two of you actually date, but this isn't something you need to disclose in the first e-mail or on the first date.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:30 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I met someone in person (but only briefly). Then he looked me up on facebook, befriended me, and asked me out via facebook. I think what you did was fine. Depending on the girl, you can bring it up after the first face-to-face, or you can just wait until she asks and then admit. I think she might even find it endearing that reading about her life made you fall for her even more.
posted by Night_owl at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2010

Mr. F read my blog for months before we ever really had a conversation-- we each knew the other existed via forums and so on, but we hadn't made a connection. After we started dating, he cheerily admitted that it had somewhat depressed him when I made that blog private for unrelated reasons... but, you know, "how was I supposed to PROPERLY STALK YOU?!" is a lot funnier once you know the guy isn't, in fact, some creepy stalker, so you might want to soft-pedal the amount of reading you've done, especially if her blog is very personal in content.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2010

You need to be completely upfront with her immediately

No you don't.

The internet is a public space, and you used the available information to investigate this woman a bit. You have not done anything remotely "stalkerish" or "creepy." It's debatable whether you've done anything untoward or uncivil. Treating this, in your mind or in hers, as something that needs to be fessed-up to makes of it something it is not, and introduces social awkwardness into an already awkward situation. Let this ride, see how things go on a date or two, mention this later if it seems like it comes up naturally.

(I will suggest that you may want to calm down a little bit, in general. You shouldn't fall in love with a woman because you read her profile and her blog.)
posted by OmieWise at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would just come out and say it, assuming you guys do start dating, with a couple caveats. If what you're saying is true and all it really took was a couple minutes of Googling, then IMO it doesn't look like she was making a serious effort to hide who she was. Plus, it seems like you have enough interests in common that would have come up naturally during the course of a meaningful conversation for it not to be creepy. However, I'd try and see how well she knows her online privacy, and you probably shouldn't drop it on her the same date that you see each other face-to-face

Generally speaking, I think that someone who's on an online dating site, Twitter, Facebook, and--this is important to know--runs a public-facing (i.e. not intended for family and existing friends only) blog would have enough of an understanding about online presences to have a good idea about how easy it would be for someone to find out quite a bit about them. But I'm not a definitive resource by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:34 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you do discuss this with her, be sensitive to the information disparity you two now have. You know a hell of a lot about her and she knows little about you, other than the fact that you know a hell of a lot about her. So you may want to address this directly and simply ask, "Hey, I realize that I've learned a bit about you through reading your blog and I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable. Either way, maybe we can balance things out...if there's anything you'd like to know about me, please feel free to ask!"
posted by iamkimiam at 11:35 AM on April 28, 2010

This might be something of a generational difference, or maybe just geek culture vs. more mainstream culture (geek being somewhat mainstream these days) but frankly, I google the heck out of anyone I'm interested in, and expect them to do the same to me. I use very similar aliases all over the place specifically to make it easy for people to find me - why would I want to partition my personality if I want people to like me for who I am? Anything I want kept off limits, I use a very different username and never mention it on my normal network or blog sites, mostly because they're irrelevant or inside jokes, and don't have much to do with myself.

This is something that clearly varies between people, but in my case, there's little to no stigma for having read someone's blog after a brief googling of her real name, which is freely available to anyone with a brain. It's not stalkerish and should cause as much guilt as, say, looking at someone's bookshelves when invited into their home.

You said this girl values honesty, so be honest! That's got to be one of my biggest peeves about some questions on here; why in the world would someone ask if they should lie to a person who they know values honesty? It's like asking if they should bring bacon to a vegan picnic.

Here's where it does get a little fuzzy though: you use the phrase "fall in love with her 10x harder." For someone who you've never met in person, who you've just been investigating a little bit online, who clearly doesn't want to be completely open to random strangers online due to her private facebook profile, telling her that you fell in love with her through her blog entries seems super creepy. Also, why do you have a "hidden online self"? Since you say your various accounts aren't private, and you can find them through knowing your real name, aren't you just as open to people reading all about you, and falling in love with your online presence just like you did with this woman's? This is a disconnect that you need to resolve with yourself, I think, before you go about confessing things that very well might be irrelevant details to someone else.
posted by Mizu at 11:35 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Not to be a killjoy, but intrigued by your post, I googled my username here (CharlieSue) which I use at a few other places online, and was taken to a twitter account that isn't mine, and several blogs affiliated with similar names that also are not mine. Unless this dating handle was really, really unique, and even if it was, there is still a chance this blog does not belong to this girl on the dating website.

Then you come off as a creepy stalker if you say you found her blog and that you liked it, when in reality it isn't her blog.

I would vote for don't openly bring it up, but there is no reason to deny it. Second date in, you can casually mention you googled her and found some blog that you liked, and is it hers? No harm, no foul.
posted by CharlieSue at 11:35 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would just let it drop, something like:

internet boy: Let's have a chocolate ice cream!
internet girl: I love chocolate!
internet boy: I know, I read your blog!
internet girl: did?
internet boy: yeah, I loved it..I hope you don't mind, it was really easy to find!
internet girl: mmk. *doesn't care/*runs home to change her privacy settings.

Hell, if she published stuff on her blog she probably did it because she thinks it's kosher for the public to know her stuff, right? anyway, I don't think she'll think it a big deal.
posted by Tarumba at 11:38 AM on April 28, 2010

Still, if I get to the point of asking her out, what then?

I'm not going to lie; the "connecting the dots", plus your whole "made me fall in love with her 10x harder" and your concern for future relationships...and all of this occurring before you've even asked her out makes you sound weird and obsessive.

If there's a hint that you come off that way in person too, chances are the whole internet detective thing is going to be really off-putting. You're about 100 steps from love, relationships or earth-shattering truths. Take a breath.
posted by Hiker at 11:44 AM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

I googled my name and I no longer want anything to do with me. The info you seem to have found is not bad stuff. Absorb it. Later, perhaps, you can mention that out of curiosity about so attractive a person you did some research and that furthered your interest in her.
posted by Postroad at 11:48 AM on April 28, 2010

I would wait until you’ve met her in person multiple times to bring this up. People on dating sites often have a very different “real life” persona than the one you imagine based on their online one. She may not be who you think she is and she will likely feel violated if as you said her Facebook settings were private, which means she considers information she places on Facebook to be private. Blogs are public, but everyone assumes only their friends are looking. Not everyone is as internet savvy as people upthread want to believe. Conversations in malls are public, that doesn’t mean it’s not rude to eavesdrop. Some people don’t expect to be found interesting enough to be stalked. To quote Helen Nissenbaum, “Public” is not the same as “up for grabs.”
posted by edbles at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2010

I don't know, I don't think it's unusual to do a little internet-sleuthing nowadays. I met my boyfriend through a gaming group and found his Facebook easily (he has a rather unique name). It was locked to friends-only, but after we friended each other (pre-dating, still acquaintances who didn't speak more than once a week at best) I still read up on everything he made available to the public. Post-dating, I once made a brief mention of how I'd be surprised if anyone found any of my public stuff because I locked them down hard, even if said sites aren't hard to find and/or link to my name. Said boyfriend took an interest and started sleuthing and while he couldn't access my blog (see: lockdown), he did manage to find some fanfiction stuff and other stuff that I thought no one would ever connect to me (I didn't particularly mind that he found it, but I was a touch embarrassed).

You might not have found the right Twitter blog --> Facebook --> Blogspot. But on the chance you did, and the discovery that you liked that person even more...if I were in the girl's spot, I wouldn't find that creepy as long as I don't find you creepy to begin with. So if my intuition towards you upon meeting didn't bring up any red flags, I'd just take your perusal of my internet life as 'oh, he's interested'. I might feel a touch embarrassed if the blog was very personal, but (and I freely admit to being biased here) if I really wanted it limited only to certain people, I'd have locked it, so I doubt this girl'd be too freaked out.

I'd just keep my mouth shut about the blog for now (ie. first couple of dates). Then just mention something she mentioned on her Facebook or blog ("Oh, I saw that note you wrote on Facebook about rock climbing, that was cool!) and then just use that as a lead in.

I don't think anything you're doing is particularly deceptive.
posted by Hakaisha at 12:04 PM on April 28, 2010

I met someone on OKCupid and after a couple of messages back and forth I googled her username. The end result was that I found her secret identity blog where she wrote slash-she'd accidentally used the same username. I wrote her a note letting her know that I'd googled her and found her blog. I also made some hopefully intelligent observations and thoughts about something she'd written about, just as I would have done about someone's profile. I also gave her a link to my own blog so she should learn more about me. She was a bit mortified, but I'd been upfront and unfreaked out about it, so no big deal.

So, I'd tell her. Don't bother about all the dots you connected, just say you googled her and found your way to her blog, and that you hope she's not bothered by it. Respond genuinely to something she has written if you feel like it.

The "love", I hope you're sort of kidding. You're interested in learning more about her and getting to know her because she's cool.
posted by idb at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2010

I used to blog more than I do now, and met someone through the blog - not a romantic partner, but a friend. When he started quoting things I'd written, but did not remember writing, it was pretty creepy. So don;'t do this.
posted by mippy at 12:07 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't use the word find, it sounds inherently more sinister.
Compare "I found your blog" with "I came across your blog".
No wait...! Seriously though, stumbled across, happened upon, saw, etc has a better ring for me.
posted by Iteki at 12:07 PM on April 28, 2010

Ask her via the dating website to friend you on Facebook, and give her your full name and facebook profile info to even the knowledge a little.
Then once you are fbook friends, you can tell her you've seen her blog and not feel weird about it anymore because it was a direct link from there.

I think the real issue is not that you did some sleuthing but that you went down like 4 levels and might not have given her the opportunity to do the same to you. So open it up a little to where it is like you only went one link farther than she has.
posted by rmless at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2010

I came here to recommend the same approach as Iamkimiam.

I've met complete strangers who commented on stuff they read in my blog when they met me (like, people coming over to pick up something I was selling on Craigslist). It's jarring, even recognizing that, yes, that's information I've willingly put out in public. So I'd say it takes a deft touch to say this the right way. But you should still say it.
posted by adamrice at 12:22 PM on April 28, 2010

You didn't hire a private agency to check up on her. We're talking about her public blog.

I'm in the "You sound so fascinating from your writing, are you available? May I take you to dinner?" camp.
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have readers who read my blog for years and when they finally meet me in person comment that I don't fit the personality/persona they've created in their own mind. On one hand its flattering that they're that interested. On the other hand its a tad creepy. What you've done so far doesn't sound like too much internet stalking. Try to mention it somehow when you meet her. If someone mentioned it before I met them I might pause a minute before saying yes to a face-to-face.
posted by Bunglegirl at 12:37 PM on April 28, 2010

Hang on, it just occurs to me that you've not had any contact with this girl at all.
If that is the case, just contact her through her blog and leave the dating site out of it.
posted by Iteki at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2010

As others said, you need to slow your roll, buddy. You're not in love, you're smitten. Nothing wrong with it, but as someone who did personals even back in the newsprint age (and who eventually married the woman he met via online personals) I can tell you the #1 lesson I learned was to treat the online portion like the first meeting... and then hurry up and meet in person, because you can completely misread your chemistry online.

As far as your pseudo-stalking I'd suggest you not volunteer but not hide it either. In other words, treat it as no big deal. If it comes up for any reason you say "yeah, before we met I googled your user name and found some other stuff you'd put online. I totally dug the XYZ." If she's put out you say sorry, you just liked what you saw and wanted to know more about her to see if you'd like to meet. If she's not put out, no harm no foul.

If she completely flips her shit and thinks you're a nutter, well, all the better reason to quit building this extensive but flawed mental picture of who she is rather than just meeting her in person and knowing the real person. Don't invest all this emotional energy on a fantasy person. Real people, with all their flaws and warts, are way more rewarding in the long run.
posted by phearlez at 12:40 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

exhilaration: ""Hey I was bored at work and thought it's be fun to Google you. What an awesome blog you have! I really thought _____ about _____ was totally ______!!!""

Yeah, I think this is a cool topic to bring up on a date if things are going okay. If she acts irritated just say you had to make sure she's not a serial killer. Be lighthearted and cheerful about it and chances are she will too. I think it's a little late for you to be lighthearted, but fake it, okay?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:40 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's totally fine to meet someone and do a quick googling out of curiosity, and maybe look at their blog or Twitter or whatever if you find it.

It gets weird if you read more than a few pages of their blog. Even if the blog is public, the writer probably doesn't remember what she was writing six months ago or more, and she might wonder what you know that she doesn't know you know. Plus, people change - she might have changed her mind on some of the things she's written in the past.

As weird as it may go over, this is why I'd recommend honesty - it lets her know that you know a little bit about her, and it gives her the opportunity to set the record straight.

From the wording of your question, it doesn't sound like you've actually exchanged any words with her, and that makes this situation weirder. It's not necessarily creepy - it's possible to be a faraway admirer without being a stalker - but you'd be wise to dial the falling in love stuff back. Things might not even come anywhere close to working out between you two. I'd personally be less taken aback by someone who read my entire blog than by someone who'd decided they were madly in love with me by our third email.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:44 PM on April 28, 2010

When my friends set me up with my current boyfriend they told him to friend me on Facebook and gave him my (very public) blog. I was okay with it but he didn't admit until a month in that he had read the whole thing and really fallen for me before he'd even met me. If he had said that on the first date I would have slowly backed away.

I agree with the others, slow down. Meet her in person—she might not be the same as she comes across on her blog and it might not even be her blog at all. Don't get so emotionally invested in her before she's even agreed to talk to you, let alone meet you.
posted by Bunglegirl at 12:47 PM on April 28, 2010

My wife found me almost six years ago on a dating site. I used the same handle there that I used for my LiveJournal. She also had a LJ, and one day she commented on a post of mine--she never contacted me through the dating site. She asked a question so that I'd be more likely to respond.

I'm used to meeting new people through the Internet, though, so this didn't seem remotely creepy to me. (In addition, it was mutual; I read everything she wrote that wasn't locked up!) But an innocent question ("How long have you been playing mandolin?") can't hurt.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:48 PM on April 28, 2010

If you go on a date with her, tell her.

My wife and I met via an online personals site. Sometime between when we started exchanging email and our first date, I google-stalked her. While she didn't have a blog, I did find her amazon wishlist, and her ebay purchasing history, as well as some comments she had left on various message boards such as IMDB. I admitted my googling to her on our first date and told her a couple of the things I had found. She told me she had also searched my name (much more unique than hers) and found my old web homepage. That was six years ago. Four years ago we got married, and last year we became parents.
posted by fings at 12:55 PM on April 28, 2010

Still, if I get to the point of asking her out, what then? Do I tell this person who values honesty the truth up front?

You should tell her eventually, since as other people have pointed out it's not a big deal and she probably won't care.

I read a bunch of it in fascination - it told me everything I could possibly want to know and made me fall in love with her 10x harder.

You haven't actually sent her a message on this dating site yet, right? It sounds like you are relatively new to online dating and are taking it way too seriously. One of the positive aspects of online dating is that it is very low-stakes. If you say something incredibly stupid or you find out some horrible flaw about her, it's no big deal because there are plenty of other people you can meet.

The profile helps weed out dates that are obviously incompatible, the messages help weed out people that you don't have anything to talk about with, and the first real life meeting (which isn't much like a real "date") helps weed out people that seem okay online but are incompatible for some reason in person. All of that (hopefully) adds up to a relatively effective way of finding someone to date, but the other side of it is that any potential match can fail at those various stages before you get to any kind of real relationship. Getting too emotionally invested early on in the process is not a good idea.

So in this particular case, send her a short message referencing some of the things in her profile, and if things click at that point try to meet up with her in real life. In my opinion the real life meetup would be a good time to mention that you Googled her and read her blog. Mentioning the Googling in your initial message would come off as weird, and whatever you do don't say anything that remotely sounds like you "fell in love with her" because most people find that kind of thing creepy coming from a complete stranger. And if she doesn't respond or otherwise rejects you, move on.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:58 PM on April 28, 2010

I use the same handle for my personal ad as I use for Twitter and my blog. I didn't initially consider how easy it would be to find me, but now I think the benefit is that people who do find me get a fuller picture of me and my sense of humor. I personally would love to meet someone who read my blog and felt the way that you do about hers. So much so that I'm sort of hoping this question is written about me, hehe. So I'm probably on the more liberal end of the "that's creepy" spectrum.

I've actually had someone from a dating website tell me that they found me and I wasn't creeped out, but then again, I sort of wanted to be found. I did feel a little uncomfortable with the information disparity, but we overcame that pretty quickly since he seemed into me and we genuinely did have a lot in common. That unfortunately is something you won't know until you meet her, so...

My advice is to wait until you've been on a couple of dates to mention that you found her blog. I don't think you have any obligation to mention it at all, but since you have such positive feelings about it, maybe you could mention that you Googled her username and stumbled upon her blog and really liked it. Be specific about what you liked, though. Saying "I found out so much about you!" is creepy. Saying "You're a really great writer" or "You're hilarious" is flattering. And be prepared if she asks you how long you've known about it. If you're not willing to fess up to knowing about it before you met, then don't bring it up at all since honesty is the whole point of the exercise.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 12:58 PM on April 28, 2010

You fell in love with her 10x harder and you haven't even asked her out? Holy cow dude, you've got bigger problems than just feeling guilty about googling potential dates.
posted by smoothvirus at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2010

When I was online dating, I did far more sleuthing than you did. With my last online relationship I had just his e-mail address, first name, and a general idea of where he lived, I was able to deduce his last name, full address, phone number, and his parents name and address. I am a prospect researcher by trade, so it was pretty routine for me... and my justification was to find out if he was who he said he was, and more importantly unmarried. (I had been burned by married men posing as single before).

Once we were dating seriously, I told him all about it... and while he was a little weirded out, he got over it. That was six years ago, and we registered as domestic partners last month.

The only risk with reading someone's blog is that it might give you an unrealistic picture of who they are... no matter how much she appeals to you intellectually, you will never know about compatibility until you meet her and see if there is chemistry. And re-reading your question, it appears that you haven't even been in contact with her yet, which is really, really putting the cart ahead of the horse.
posted by kimdog at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2010

Mod note: From the OP:
First of all, thanks for all the advice. I knew the "fell in love"
phrase was loaded when I used it and should have known better. I am
well aware that it's the idea of a person, not that person. I really
just meant to say that the blog revealed a more complex and
interesting person to me, and I found myself even more attracted to
her than before.

I am relieved that the consensus is that it wasn't particularly
creepy/stalkerish. That said, I know I need to step back, calm the
hell down, etc. I have thought about (and overthought) the neediness
issue, and the right/wrong reasons to be in a relationship, believe
me. And I know I still need to process things from my previous
relationship before I embark on a new one. And yes, maybe I should
have brought this stuff up initially, but I thought it would muddy the
googling/privacy question. So yes, a reasonable cooling off period is
in order - I don't want to unload a bunch of baggage/rebound crap on
some unsuspecting person.

Quick note to CharlieSue: There is no doubt at all it's the same person.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:17 PM on April 28, 2010

Personally, I think a certain amount of internet detective work is just plain due diligence when it comes to online dating

This. When my last relationship ended, I set up a website/blog and made my Facebook info public specifically so that potential dates could find out everything about me beforehand.

I can't imaging dating someone I hadn't googled.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it were me (and I were in your situation, I'd totally do the same sleuthing and I have, actually), I'd mention it casually as soon as a normal, casual space in conversation comes up. Because I think it's better to be upfront that you read it than to accidentally say, "I know" when she mentions something about herself. Also, agree with Colonel_Chappy that a complimentary, "Your blog is really cool!" is better than "I found your blog and am delving into every detail you neglect to put behind a privacy filter!"

Also, agreed that you should really meet in person before you decide you love her. A positive result of internet sleuthing isn't "falling 10x harder"; it's "oh good, I'm unable to find anything disturbing/scary/dishonest about this person".
posted by Kurichina at 1:21 PM on April 28, 2010

I wouldn't mention it to her until later in the relationship, if it takes off. Unless you have an eloquence to make it seem funny or cute, it will strike almost everyone as odd and stalkerish. It could be a deal breaker for her.

FWIW, online impressions of someone are not very realistic. More often than not an online persona is completely different than the person you may get to know. Wait for the first date to start making wedding plans.
posted by JJ86 at 1:43 PM on April 28, 2010

Thanks for reminding me that some people find this stuff creepy. I pretty much do this sort of sleuthing with everyone. (I'm married, but I'm sure I would do it potential dates, if I was in the market for them.) I google employers, friends, etc. Basically, if I have someone's name, I type it into google without even giving the action much thought.

And plenty of people have done that with me, too. They say, "I found your blog, and read that thing you write six years ago..." I expect that, and it doesn't bother me. If I post something online, it's public. You, whoever you are, have a perfect right to look at it and I have no grounds to complain about you looking at it.

But clearly, from the various reactions in this thread, my feelings about this aren't universal. So you really do have to feel out the individual person to see how where they stand on this issue. I don't think there's a norm. And it doesn't matter if there is, if you're concerned about the effect your actions will have on a specific person.
posted by grumblebee at 1:44 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have to beg to differ with the people who suggest casually expressing interest in blogging and fishing for her to admit whether she does. There are a couple obvious ways that could backfire... first and foremost that it's a lie by omission and not the best way to start off a relationship. If you bring it up and she doesn't admit she has a blog, then you're in the awkward position of realizing that she doesn't want you to see it yet, and you can't admit that you already have without revealing that you were being deceptive.

I'd treat it like any potentially-sensitive issue (religion, politics, sex, money, etc): don't lie, but don't bring it up until the relationship has reached a point where it's comfortable to bring it up.

You're not a creepy person for doing the search. Publicly available information is publicly available. However, most people's comfort zone with that kind of stuff hits a major valley between "stranger I'll never meet and whose opinion doesn't matter to me" and "close friend who can be trusted with my private details"... and you are right smack dab in the middle of that valley.

As iamkimiam smartly pointed out, this relationship will be starting off with a pretty significant asymmetry of information which means you should step lightly. Be cool about it, don't use it to your advantage, and focus on getting to know her as a flesh-and-blood person rather than framing anything in the context of something she wrote (without knowing you'd be part of the audience).
posted by Riki tiki at 1:53 PM on April 28, 2010

You know what you know of her (it may not be her, as people have pointed out) from information garnered from a deliberately constructed persona which she has chosen to make public. You know no more about her from that information than you do about any pop star or celebrity.
posted by winna at 3:21 PM on April 28, 2010

I get offended if potential suitors don't google me. If you are interested enough to ask me out, please, do your research (I've had people innocently ask me out before after we were Facebook friends, while having myself listed as "In a relationship with" someone else. This is an extreme version of fail, but illustrates the point).

I've also had people say "you have a nice website!" or "I saw your blog post about ____, it was funny" and it's not creepy at all. However, this is partially because I write things on the internet hoping that people who would find it useful or entertaining might actually find it one day.

If she had her own domain, and not a blogspot blog, I would be willing to bet 100% she would not be turned off by you reading her blog. However, blogspots blogs tend to be a bit less serious: I'm assuming it's rather personal, in which case there is a higher probability she will not have expected you to read it.

In either case though, as long as you don't come off as a creep for some other reason, this won't make it worse.
posted by mokudekiru at 5:22 PM on April 28, 2010

What exhilaration said. In fact, this is pretty much how the guy I am dating (exclusively and so far, happily *crosses fingers*) met me. He was casual and upfront about it and it didn't bother me a bit; in fact, I was flattered. I had more or less forgotten my OK Cupid profile but he found it, did some googling, found the blog, then emailed me. In the email he told me he liked the blog, thought we would hit it off and asked me out. He did say he hadn't read all that much of it because he specifically didn't want to skeeve me out, which I thought was thoughtful. I wouldn't really have cared, though, because my blog is public and quite a few people do read it, so meeting readers doesn't freak me out all that much anymore. What would have seemed weird was if he had waited until the third or fourth date to tell me he read it - as it was it was just no big thing.

So, if I were you I would relax. Ask her out and either before or on the first date, say, hey, I found your blog and it is highly awesome.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:05 PM on April 28, 2010

I'd say around date number two would be a good time to admit to having googled her, read her blog, etc. At that point it will be flattering to her. Any earlier and it might seem overeager. I speak from experience.
posted by mai at 8:30 PM on April 28, 2010

I met my boyfriend when, out of hostliness, I volunteered to give him a ride from the airport to the hostel where he was staying. He had commented on my blog, and we had e-mailed casually as well, but he was just some dude checking out schools in my state, for all I knew. Well, I wound up falling for him, we spent a glorious crazy week together in my town, and he moved out here that summer. Three years later, we're still together, but I will say that he played it pretty cool how much he was smitten when he made that first trip. He'll admit to it now, but he was much more nonchalant back then, and that was the absolute right way to play it.

Comment on the blog if it's the sort of blog you can comment on (Not "My Lost Virginity, The Essay" but "This Band Rocked! The Show!"), and maybe even compliment her sweet writing style, but don't mention it on your real life interaction with her unless she brings it up first.
posted by redsparkler at 10:51 PM on April 28, 2010

I'm long time married and so not hip to dating culture, but don't people post public blogs to be read? What's the problem with letting her know you read it and liked it? That kind of stuff is what most bloggers do it for.

Coming off as too eager and desperate is a problem. Simply reading her blog is not.
posted by cross_impact at 11:05 AM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't know if anyone is still following this thread, but if so, here I am. I'm the guy. Yes, I know I phrased an infatuation in excessive terms. I did in fact ask her out - there was a performance in town for a week and I figured I had to ask her to it now. My initial contact has gone unanswered since Friday, so it's pretty clear it's a non-starter. And yes, I took it pretty hard because I didn't heed people's advice about taking a more level-headed approach to the whole thing.
posted by O9scar at 12:35 AM on May 3, 2010

« Older Trip to Chicago: Super happy fun time!   |   Weird ear infection remains Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.