How do you settle on a gold-digging love interest after looking at their “very detailed” criminal history? Seems like you’re considering a combination of their criminal history, their physical attributes, and their aptitude for cheating. We consulted a few experts to help us figure out how to think through the process.
“Lots of people think that looks count, but we can never really know that,” says criminologist Rachel Connelly, an expert on dating profile policing.
“There is an assumption that someone’s gaze at you looks at their eyes, but that may not be the case.”
The most eye-opening aspect of researching someone’s dating history is that it can tell you very little about their personality, says Washington State University psychology professor Jill Johnson. Research shows that often, people who have positive descriptions of their personalities do not actually match in many other ways, including intelligence and personality.
“Someone who was described as a vegan who was also a real fitness buff would seem, on paper, to be a beautiful person who’s also deep and kind and would be a great girlfriend,” says Johnson.
“But they also may have had a lot of problems and have personality profiles that aren’t nice to a lot of people. So that’s why it’s important to get real profiles.”
In fact, she says it’s important to ensure that a person’s profile accurately describes them before reading the profile at all. Johnson says even people she’s known who’ve been scandalous in their dating history are “wonderful human beings” once she gives them the chance to step outside that behavior and into something more pleasant.
“I’ve met both men and women who have horrible dating experiences and have a really nice connection with people who are good at dating but just don’t know how to speak to them because they act this way,” she says. “Everyone has different ways of being compatible with other people and it’s great to know that.”
Before they meet you, experts say, people’s violent dating histories should be sufficiently reported to any online dating services — starting with Craigslist. According to Connelly, a host of web dating services will check the criminal history of their users in order to prevent a match’s matches from ever being created. But she says to ask when you first meet that a criminal record is not posted on the site and say, “Please I’d like to not receive pictures of the criminal.”
“One of the things that I would recommend is that you request as soon as possible if the person’s profile is up and running,” says author John Rodenbeck, who’s co-written the book Selfishgifts, a study of “reward seeking” behavior. He says that by the time someone goes into an online relationship, that person’s past history should be enough evidence to avoid the match.
“It’s a good idea to ask and be honest about what your partner’s profile says so you don’t get into a bad situation,” he says. “Also, keep a record of the number of times that profile is flagged, so you know what problems they might have.”
After you’ve downloaded your pick’s profile from a dating site, you may want to verify that the information is accurate by reading up on some of their history.
“There’s plenty of online background checks and the places that have listed sex offenders come up,” says Connelly. “Also, many states do their own background checks and those are on the federal level, so make sure to call the sex offender registry to verify their personal information.”
Stop, dig, and check. The path to romance can be difficult. It requires insight, hard work, and some hard-won vulnerability.