Meghan Markle didn't Google Prince Harry before a first date. Therapists say you should.
- Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey she didn't Google Harry before their first date.
- Therapists say there's merit to looking up a date beforehand for safety and value alignment.
- They warned about overdoing it, which can give you unrealistic expectations for the date.
- Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.
During Meghan Markle and Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey, Markle revealed more details of her blind-date-turned-courtship with the prince, including the fact she never looked him up on the internet before their first date.
"I never looked up my husband online," Markle told Winfrey. "I just didn't feel the need to because everything that I needed to know, he was sharing with me - or everything we thought I needed to know, he was telling me."
Markle and Harry first met in July 2016 when a mutual friend set them up on a blind date.
In a 2017 BBC interview, Markle said she only asked her friend one question about Harry:
"Because I'm from the States, you don't grow up with the same understanding of the royal family," Markle said. "I didn't know much about him, so the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] when she said that she wanted to set us up, was, 'Well, is he nice?' Cause if he wasn't kind, it just didn't seem like it would make sense."
It's normal to look up a potential date as a safety precaution
In today's digitally connected world, it's rare to find someone like Markle who chooses to skip a preliminary Google search on their date, when the ability to do so is right at our fingertips. In fact, two therapists told Insider nearly all of their single clients lookup a new date online before meeting in person, and that they suggest the practice for protection against catfishes, liars, and people who don't align with your values.
"Especially [if you're] a young woman, you want to make sure this is a person with a life and a family, and this is a real person," Tess Bringham, a millennial-focused therapist and life coach in San Francisco, California, told Insider.
At the same time, Bringham warned against becoming obsessive with social media and internet sleuthing before a date, since the practice can lead to unnecessary and unrealistic first-date expectations.
Use the internet to verify your date's identity and values
When it comes to Markle and Harry, their situation is a bit different than commoners.
As a royal family member, his identity is easily verifiable without Google or social media. Markle also had a trusted mutual friend set her up on the date, which likely quelled any concerns Markle had.
But for regular people who tend to meet perfect strangers on dating apps, there's a greater chance of deception, according to Dana McNeil, a therapist and founder of The Relationship Place in San Diego, California.
McNeil told Insider she stands by her patients' pre-date investigations when they're verifying a person's relationship status and how they treat their exes.
She recommends asking yourself these types of questions as you conduct a preliminary social media scan:
- Are they currently in a situation where they're dating somebody and they told you that they weren't? Is there a picture on their social media from last week where they're canoodling at the beach?
- How are they talking about their exes? Are they writing disparaging things about their exes in their posts?
Social media can help you flag non-negotiables
Looking for value-related details, like a person's political affiliation or alcohol and drug use, on a date's social media could also help you save time with an incompatible person, according to Bringham.
"If it's a big part of your life and you're very passionate about it and it means something to you, then I think there's nothing wrong with that," Bringham told Insider.
If those points aren't deal-breakers for you, or if that information is readily available on the dating app where you met, Bringham suggested forgoing a deep-dive since it can lead to self-sabotage.
Too much pre-date investigation could ruin the experience
There's a fine line between pre-date research and obsessive stalking, and too much of the latter can cause you to create preconceived notions about your date, according to Bringham.
"A lot of times people do that because they want to get a sense of who the person is. Will I like this person? Will I not like this person? The problem is you don't know if you're going to have a connection with someone until you get in a room," said Bringham. "That's why I usually encourage my clients [to avoid] spending a lot of time trying to figure out who they are."
People tend to create online personas, even subconsciously, and the person you meet in person may not come off like they did on their Instagram page, said McNeil. If your date has a common name, you also run the risk of investigating the wrong person, she said.
Reserve final judgment for the first date
Instead of ruminating over a date's social media, McNeil and Bringham both suggested trusting your instincts during the first date, which should be in a public place.
As for Markle, it makes sense she didn't look up Harry, according to Bringham.
"If she Googled him, she would see what we all see. You see what people present to you in the world. You don't really see who they are," said Bringham.
"I think you can Google someone and you can get a sense of who they are and if what they're telling you over the phone is matching up with what you're seeing online, but you don't really truly know them."