Should You Run Background Checks on People You Date?

Trying to find a romantic partner online can be a lot of things, but it’s certainly popular. It’s all the rage with people in their twenties, and it’s also increasingly trendy for baby boomers in their 50s and 60s.

Whether you’re 20 or 60, you’ve got a pretty good chance of finding peers in online dating. But finding people isn’t the same thing as finding quality people, and it’s fair to wonder if the person you’re going on a coffee dates with is on the up and up.

Here’s what to consider when figuring out when (and if) you should run background checks on people you date.

Do they seem to be hiding something?

You can’t date someone unless you feel comfortable around them. In a 2018 survey, 78 percent of women said they’re most concerned with feeling comfortable on a first date. It’s hard to fall for someone if you feel uneasy or unsafe around them. Among other things, you have to trust that they’re being honest and upfront with you.

Sometimes it’s obvious that someone is hiding something. For instance, if your date is wearing an ankle monitor but insists it’s actually just a fancy step counter, that’s a major red flag. But red flags tend to be a little more difficult to spot.

Pay attention to their body language. If you ask a question about their past and they start fidgeting, that could mean they’re not being honest. If they look away and won’t make eye contact, that’s another possible warning sign.

You shouldn’t expect someone to give you their entire life story after a couple of dates. But listen to your gut if it’s telling you that the person you’re dating is leaving out something critical about their past.

Are things getting serious?

So you’ve been on more than a few dates. In fact, you’re now seeing each other exclusively. You’re more or last past the honeymoon phase and creeping ever closer to the commitment phase. You might have even said “I love you” to each other. That’s usually around the time when people really start thinking about a future with each other.

But before you do that, you have to be absolutely sure that you trust this person. You don’t really know a person after a few months of dating, even if it feels like you do. It may feel weird to run background checks on someone you care about at this point, but it just means you’re performing your due diligence.

But if you still feel weird about it, you can ask your partner if they want to run a background check on you as well. Background checks can be another step on the road to true intimacy if you play your cards right.

Do you have kids?

Dating is no doubt harder when you have kids. When you’re single, you can mess up without it really impacting anyone else around you. But when you’re dating as a single parent, your margin for error is much smaller. You don’t want to your kid to get attached to someone who’s been hiding a lengthy criminal record this whole time.

Think of dating with kids as like buying a house. Even if you like a house, you can’t just buy it based on that. Running background checks on someone is a little like getting home inspections in New Jersey. It allows you to set aside your feelings and look at the facts on the ground.

Finding out someone has been arrested for a DUI while they were in college is a bit like finding out your house needs a couple of new electrical outlets. In other words, it’s probably not a reason to end things on its own. But you still need to know before you can move forward.