Full Disclosure: How Much Is Too Much or Too Little?

Private Man recently emailed me and asked for feedback on a reader question.  Here’s the scenario:

A man met a woman online and arranged a date. In the hours before the arranged meet up, the woman asked the man for his last name. She explicitly told him that she was asking so she could Google him. The guy said he felt freaked out, but gave her his last name anyway.

He wanted to know what the real reason was for the woman’s admission and request and how to circumvent this issue in the future.

In my mind, there’s the “real” reason and the real reason why she would want his last name.

The “real” reason, of course, is to Google the guy and do a little re-con work. The “real” reason, in my opinion, was to force familiarity with the guy and attempt to take a power position in the relationship. It’s another test. If he gives her his last name, then he “really” likes and trusts her. Whatever info she can gather is just a bonus. Most people Google their dates. (I don’t. I find it futile.) Fewer people actually tell someone that they are going to do so.

Someone who tells you that they will Google you is no different than the person who tells you they won’t sleep with you on a first date. They’re looking for  specific reaction. If a woman tells a man she’s not going to sleep with him, she wants to see how he’s going to respond. In her mind, if he stops showing interest in her then he was just looking to get laid.  Same goes for a woman who announces to a guy that she’s going to Google him. It’s an ineffective test women use to gauge just how sincere someone is. (Yes, I know. “Safety shamer!”) As with most tests, all it does is provide someone with a false sense of security. And what happens when you function under a false sense of security? You get bamboozled. Ironic, right?

The more something becomes less common or obsolete, like calling someone to ask them out, the more important certain people want it. Fewer people are handing out their last names to their online dates. So, of course, more people are now insisting upon that information before setting up a date. It’s another way for them to prove to themselves that this person is sincere and genuinely interested. Don’t take it personally that someone doesn’t welcome you into their online home before they have a date or two under their belt. Most people offer the information if asked. Just understand that by asking for specific information, people will assume you are using it for one thing. Most people won’t care. That is, unless you tell them outright what you’re doing. That’s when people get unsettled. Not because they fear you’ll uncover some deep dark secret but because nobody likes knowing that someone is Google/Facebook Creeping them. My friend has an appropriate analogy for this situation.

It is like worrying that ghosts are watching you while you sleep.  It’s a problem of your own imagination.

Accept that people do it and that we are now in a sate of a “new” normal in this regard. As I’ve said before, I think the whole concept of doing research on a date or someone you’re dating to be unnecessary. Creeping on someone like a new date or an Ex, as long as it stays within the lines, is only destructive to the person doing the creeping. Accept that it’s not atypical and just be mindful of it and let it go. We’re all mini-celebrities now. People like to watch and judge and analyze. That’s just how it is now.

You do a background check on someone you’re going to marry or somehow tie yourself to legally or financially. You don’t do background checks on people you’re just dating. If you sense someone is lying or not who they say they are, walk away. That’s it. You ask them questions, you pay attention to inconsistencies and you don’t ignore your gut. It’s very simple. These horror stories we hear about scam artists and predators almost always involve glaring red flags that people overlooked or ignored. Yes, there are the cases here and there where someone ended up being a sociopath and doing serious mental and physical harm. But those cases are the exceptions to the rule and not the rule. A sociopath can and will sneak under the radar, undetectable by even a background check. Google will not protect you from those people.

To answer the query about how to navigate this type of request before meeting someone, I’m not really sure you can. If you tell someone you don’t want to give out specific info, you’ll look like you’re hiding something. If someone isn’t satisfied with the fact that you’ve given them your phone number before meeting, my guess is that person might have some trust issues and therefore end up being a handful. It’s best to disengage right then. If you really like them, then give them the additional details they request.  The fact that someone is asking you for more info should tell you one thing: they don’t trust you. Maybe they’ve been burnt in the past or maybe they’re just really needy or maybe there is something about your behavior that is tripping off an internal wire somewhere. Who knows? Only you can decide if that person is worth getting to know. If you are someone who is hyper-private or Google-averse, I have to say that online dating probably isn’t a great way to meet people.  So either accept that this is now the new normal or stop dating.

Giving a phone number or email address alone is usually enough to give the person all the info they need to hit up Google.  This is why I think the woman’s request was a red herring. She had his number. All she had to do was do  reverse look up of that to get his last name. She wasn’t afraid he was going to abduct her or con her out of cash. She just wanted to see what he’d say so she could tell herself she stood out from his other options.


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29 Responses to “Full Disclosure: How Much Is Too Much or Too Little?”

  1. Dark Sarcasm Says:

    If a woman asked me for my last name before a first date, I’d say “Fine, make sure you give me yours, as well as your social security number so I can look up your credit report so I can see if you’re good for this cup of coffee I’m treating you to..a brother has to be safe, you know.”

  2. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    The way I would handle this is to give her my last name and, at the same time, hint that she was going to find some really provocative stuff. Something like “here’s my name. Enjoy your search… and don’t judge” This will make her spend hours searching for the mysterious dirt that doesn’t exist. Then, play up the mystery more when you meet her. Now you have created the appearance of a dark, mysterious past and you didn’t have to lift a finger. Of course, this only works if you are not actually a registered sex offender.

    • just_me Says:

      I would be curious to hear from others what they have actually found by googling potential dates.

      If your date has a pretty common name, then how do you know you have the RIGHT “John Smith” or “Jennifer Jones”? When I tried to google me, tons of people came up who were NOT me (even when I added things like where I lived, went to college ,clubs I was involved in, etc. I had to include pretty specific details to find me – things which you might not know about someone before your first date).

      • uesider Says:

        Brings to mind a friend of a friend who has the same name as a sex offender, something which comes up quite often.

  3. yiddishebabbler Says:

    I disagree with this article. As a single woman, for my own safety, I like to have his last name before meeting him for the first time. If (god forbid) he turns violent on me or forces to have sex with me, at least I will be able to give the police his full name. Additionally, if he says he’s a certain profession or brags about certain credentials, I like to google him to see if what he says matches up. Also, for my own safety, I like to search under the sex offender registry and the Don’t Date Him Girl databases. This article was obviously written by a man, since he has absolutely no clue what women go through on a daily basis, especially as it relates to the online blind dating scene. Speaking of which, I would like to have the author’s full name so I can try to find a bio on him to see what his credentials are for writing such an article.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      Good point. Asking for a guy’s full name is a fool proof method of determining whether he’s going to force intercourse with you. Wait. Even better. Why don’t you just ask whether he intends to force intercourse? That would save you some time I think.

      Wait. Best idea yet. Meet in a public place where forced intercourse is usually logistically difficult, or, at least frowned upon.

    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      This article was obviously written by a man, since he has absolutely no clue what women go through on a daily basis, especially as it relates to the online blind dating scene. Speaking of which, I would like to have the author’s full name so I can try to find a bio on him to see what his credentials are for writing such an article.

      I don’t think there has ever been a comment that so aptly supported my stance. Thank you.

      Like I said, usually all the info that we need and seek is right in front of us, but we ignore it because of our own biased opinions. Bravo. Best. Comment. Ever.

      • DrivingMeNutes Says:

        Mine were better.

        • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

          Me and my man vagina disagree.

          • DrivingMeNutes Says:

            Man vagina? I know I’m offended and turned off when you say “lady boner.” But, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about this new disgusting term.

            Let me do the math. The feminine attracts the masculine. Hm. I guess its okay since it has the word vagina in it.

    • The Private Man Says:

      Note to self: Never date yiddishebabbler

      The level of paranoia in her comment is amazingly vast.

    • Charlie Says:

      The very manly blogger’s picture and credentials are on the about page if you really need to see them.

      • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

        To be fair, I added the photo and bio info after she posted the comment. I had just updatedthatpage a couplesdays ago and been meaning to add a pic. But the about page did say I was female. Not to mention my twitter stream is in the right hand side bar with my photo. But even with all that she could have assumed the article was written by someone else. Its not the first time someone has mistaken my writing to be by a man. :)

        • Angeline Says:

          Dude. We should go out sometime. Have a glass of wine or three. Whaddya say?

          I’ll look for your text.

    • uesider Says:

      You give up your true motives when you say that you want to google his profession and credentials. Me thinks you aren’t worried about getting attacked but want to qualify your date.

      I’ve dated women who really were attacked and they don’t even go through this.

    • VD Joe Says:

      Baby, you’re safe with me.

      Hey, does this rag smell like chloroform to you?

      • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

        Based on the language she used in her comment, I’m thinking that she had a bad experience which led her to be this hyper-vigilant. Let’s cease the mocking, please.

    • wishing u well Says:

      The “Don’t Date Him Girl” databases?!?! Are you serious?

  4. VJ Says:

    You know this is pretty silly. Google is amazingly inefficient for name searches for anyone who’s not fairly famous. It might take literally hours of time to actually run down the ‘right’ person here, and not really knowing them? Makes this prospect far worse. You really don’t know what they look like. That photo may be years old (in point of fact, count on it). You may or may not know where they ‘really’ live.

    You can come across this kind of ‘misinformation’ every day doing genealogy research even knowing mostly what you’re looking for. So failing to find a Jeff Dahmer is one thing. (Everyone knew him only After the fact though!) Actually doing anything very constructive with a quick google search on someone is something else entirely. Call it the unacknowledged limits of technology, but this is a tremendously inefficient way of finding out about plenty of people. If they’re not on FB or have a ‘professional profile’ you’re basically shooting in the dark. So for anyone say Over the age of 40-50, this may not be horribly efficient. For the FB generation? You might get a bit closer, but perhaps not much. And for those of us in the small subset that truly value our privacy? We don’t care to make much of our lives all ‘transparent’ for public consumption.

    You might google me and be confused with many folks having a similar name nearby. Ditto for many sex offenders BTW, who are in yes separate private databases not immediately accessible to google! So goodness, what’s a poor woman to do? 1.) Never date. 2.) Never date w/o an armed or close family chaperone and a strict curfew. 3.) Never date anyone that you don’t know of their reputation or their families reputations. If they’re unknown to your father or an uncle or brother, they’re not likely to be men of decent or known character. All these were perfectly acceptable solutions for this ‘problem’ of unknown ‘suitors’ in prior generations & centuries. They even worked reasonably well for a time. But hey, you’re all liberated women now, right? At least in the US & other Western nations, smart, resourceful, well educated, and endowed with good intuition and instincts no doubt? What could go wrong?

    OK, how about ‘what could go wrong on a coffee date? How about you make an offer he can’t refuse? ‘To ease my mind, how about I pay for the next date if I can talk to you over the phone for a bit (half an hour say)?’ That might help more than any search you might conduct. Not many guys may go for it, but a few might. But that sort of returns us to the ‘status quo’ of oh 30 years ago too. So this is why some will use google as a sort of ‘invisible cloak of protection’. Almost as effective however as that invisibility cloak you had as a kid when playing games too.

    All our instincts and all of the biology are keyed on just one thing: the physical person.In the flesh & in person, live. Are you comfortable with them? Do they seem comfortable with themselves & with you? Do they meet your eyes with genuine smiles or a wicked grin that says ‘game on’! Might that make a difference? In some contexts yes, in others perhaps not. But mostly you’ll know better and your body will feel better knowing them only after meeting them. It’s not fool proof, goodness knows. And people have been fooled, tricked & cajoled for 1000’s of years before google. But it’s your best, fastest and most efficient way of getting to know someone, even now.

    Very few women are killed by ‘rank strangers’ upon first meetings in Starbucks. Mostly they are killed by ex’s or prior or current intimate partners or family members. So the guys/People to watch out for? Are not the ones you don’t know and are just meeting for coffee or a bite in a public place for the first or even 2nd time. It’s that dirt bag BF at home you fell for years ago, even knowing of their prior ‘troubling’ domestic violence tendencies. It’s the proverbial ‘bad boy’ you fell for even knowing of his open threats and history of violence, and married over your entire family’s protest. It’s the same dude, now instantly a ‘father figure’ and perhaops resentfully made responsible for watching your young child at home while you’re out working to keep above water. Those are the deadliest encounters, statistically. Ditto for the ‘aggrieved’ wife not satisfied with a ‘quickie’ divorce, and ‘wanting to get on with her life’ with a new exciting lover. Or a practiced ‘black widow’ with studied mercurial tendencies, only know to some select insurance investigators. Intimate partners do violence. Rank strangers dating outside the context of ‘prostitution’ and or yes, ‘kink’ on demand for money just rarely are much of a real bodily risk today. You’re statistically as likely to be assaulted or raped just walking down the street of any major city in the US.

    So in effect, it’s just one more dating hurdle invented strictly as a ‘social proof’ of your ‘worth’ and likely needlessly so too. It’s quite akin to the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey looking over the ‘stud book’ of old Burke’s Peerage for a suitable match for so & so ‘among the rising gentry’. It often does not work as well as imagined, then or now. It’s an offhand way of trying to determine ‘how much is this bloke worth’ and/or ‘are you truly worthy of my time or attention?’ Again, impossible to know, and only time will tell perhaps. That’s the real trick here, and there’s really no shortcuts to that intimate and deeply personal assessment. Your momma, daddy or family can’t quite decide all that for you anymore. Neither can google either. Often it’s not even a good start, but just sowing more confusion! Cheers, ‘VJ’

    • fuzzilla Says:

      >Ditto for many sex offenders BTW, who are in yes separate private databases not immediately accessible to google! <

      That's not true: http://www.nsopw.gov/Core/Portal.aspx

      I agree with the basic gist of your comment, though (I knew the database off the top of my head because I volunteer at a crisis hotline). Sometimes I Google prospective dates, but I sure don't tell them I'm doing so. I'm not paranoid that they're sex offenders or killers, I'm just generally looking for/expecting to find "oh, hey, he writes for XYZ blog" or "oh hey, that's what his ex-girlfriend looks like" or whatever. I wonder what the OP was expecting to find? Or if it was nothing and was just a test to see if he'd comply with giving up the information in the first place.

      • VJ Says:

        Thanks Fuzz, That’s somewhat useful, up to a point. Entering into the DB one of the locals, I got a vague addy, no picture, (strange that for someone having been in prison), And no age. And plenty of other ‘false positive’ hits on similar sounding names. I think much of what you’re likely to find is associated with their FB pages or blogs or business & associations. So it may get you something, but only leave you basically clueless mostly about everything else. And again those of us who are more ‘private’ might not have much at all. I belong to many associations, most of which are not readily ‘apparent’. True, most of those ‘strange folks’ are bound to over 45 say, but there are younger ones too. And some of the stranger stuff out there on the web, might give anyone pause to know anyone too! Cheers, ‘VJ’

  5. Mr. R Says:

    As a dude, I was fully expecting to give my last name (seriously, what are they going to find? That I have a good job and am a Eagle Scout). On the other hand, I wouldn’t go out with a girl who didn’t give her last name.

    It’s the principle of the thing, see. You have to give a little to get a little. Women who are demanding like that and don’t give in return, well, that kind of shows a microcosm of how the relationship would be like, would it not.

    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      I don’t think people care if someone wants to know about them. It’s when the person gives the impression that they are entitled to the information that is the problem.

      Nobody owes it to you to prove themselves.

    • Mark Says:

      In a sense I can appreciate that a woman wants to be careful. IE don’t want to date an ex felon or something like that. Perfectly understandable and reasonable. I suppose that one tool in that end could be a google search.

      But If you agree that a woman needs to be careful you could also say a guy does also. Although for slightly different reasons. So if she asks for your last name, by all means agree to offer it. But first as a show of good faith, would she please give hers? Fair is fair. If not google, then how about linkdin?

      Otherwise, It seems to me that Moxie’s approach is as good as any and better than most. By and large follow the heart but use your head to get there. Just don’t be a red flag Nazi about things.

  6. Trish Says:

    Hmm. I realized that in the past (prior to the last year or so) whenever I’ve had a date from a online connection the man has always provided his full name (plus cell, home and/or office number). I’m in my 40’s, so maybe this might be a generational thing, or part of the older rules of dating? I dawned on me that more recently last names haven’t been forthcoming. What to make of that…. :/

  7. nathan Says:

    I can’t ever recall a woman directly asking me for my last name before we met. Sometimes, I have given it out to her, and other times not. It’s not something I’m concerned about. I already have an extensive web presence, and so total anonymity isn’t really on my plate anymore.

    And while I have Googled dates before, I have also been on plenty of first dates with no idea about last names or background beyond what she has provided me.

    Moxie’s take on this seems pretty accurate. It feels like a test to me because saying no probably meant not getting the date.

  8. joe-f Says:

    When has dating become the cold war? Now we have to decide what information to give and with what strings. I think we all have some major flaws and the sooner a potential partner knows about them, the better. My goal is to have to get the point of full transparency as soon as possible so I can make a determination of whether or not to make her my girlfriend. All this cloak and dagger stuff is only going to drag out the process and make me waste time.

    These games are wasting too much time. My wife and I married close to our mid thirties. I really wish we had a few years to travel and build our relationship before thinking about children.

  9. Arthur Laframboise Says:


    That is an easy one. A man has to develop a true sense of equality in his relationships with women, therefore you ask if she will give her last name if you give her yours. Check her reaction, any type of opposition or lame excuse is a sign that she expect a special treatment. Never give your last name if the act is not reciprocal. Very bad sign for a man. Your safety is as important as her’s, is it not? It did happen once to me, I ignored her after she refused.



  10. Valerie Says:

    Google can be the stalkers best friend! In my dating life, Google hasn’t saved me from any bad dates but it has given me the information that I needed in order to justify walking away when the charm that was there was just too good. You’re opinion about the power position and looking for a certain reaction, is probably very true in most cases! Sadly, those never work, it always seems to backfire. Best to just be direct.

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