How Not To Stalk Your Date

If you’ve ever fallen into the “too much, too soon” trap with someone you just started seeing, read this wise advice.

By Dave Singleton

t happens to even the best women out there: After date number one with a guy, they devolve into virtual stalkers. OK, I’ll admit: Stalking is an overly harsh term. There’s no fear of danger or thoughts of calling law-enforcement officials on the part of the stalkee—as there is in true cases of stalking. So let’s call it “stalking lite.” What I’m talking about is a romantic fixation that you act on to your dating detriment. Whether it’s rummaging through his work papers while he’s in the bathroom, driving past his place repeatedly —“just to check whether the lights are on” — or asking mutual friends for constant updates on him, let’s face it: It’s not pretty.

So why do we do it? Here are some possibilities:
  • Because we can. Technology makes it easy.
  • Because we have an insatiable curiosity combined with a need for instant gratification.
  • Because sometimes we’re so self-absorbed, we just don’t think about what we’re doing.
  • Because we think more contact and information will make things go better between us.
When looking for info on your date, avoid the perception that you’re Nancy Drew investigating a crime scene.
But as New Yorker Kathleen Ritter, 43, learned first-hand, this behavior doesn’t make anything better. “As much as you think it will help you, it only ends up hurting you. Why sabotage yourself and look pathetic with someone new?”

So before you do something you’ll regret later, follow these tips to make sure your dating behavior comes off as acceptable interest instead of alarmingly over-eager:

Limit premature emails
There’s a big difference between a sunny follow-up email after a first date and a three-page email to the poor lug at his office the morning after. When you feel the breathless urge to write such a treatise, pouring out your heart and soul, call a friend for support or yank your DSL line out of its jack. Keep post-date emails short and simple. And keep in mind that text-messaging is, in some ways, even worse than emailing. It’s too speedy and accessible for your own good. You’ll probably wind up annoying the other person and/or revealing too much.

Be like E.T. and “phone home”
Bostonian Jenny Lynch, 27, met a great guy through friends and went on a fun dinner date. At the end of the night, they exchanged all telephone numbers–work, home and cell. It’s like telling someone, “I’ll be here, or here, or even here, if you want to find me anytime.” I think we do this a little too quickly. That probably explains the chilly reception Jenny got when she called Tim at work the next day. On some level, despite being invited in, she invaded his professional world and he retreated. When in doubt — or when given a choice — use a guy’s home telephone number unless he instructs otherwise.

Don’t show up unannounced
Leave the stakeouts to the cops. Do you really think that seeing you in a desperate light in front of his home, office or social hangout will make him like you more? Would you want him if it did? You cannot make someone love you. Rigging ways to “unexpectedly” bump into someone really won’t make him realize you’re The One. He’ll probably just figure out what you’re up to and keep his distance.

Think before you Google
Your date with the great new guy is Friday. So what’s the first thing you do after telling your friends and getting a new outfit? You log on and Google him, of course. All you have to do is type his name in the search box and click. But what starts out as an incredibly easy way to find out information about your date can turn quickly into knowing too much information (TMI) too soon! Knowing too much is bad enough. Conveying the results of your search to your date over a romantic bottle of champagne can take the fizz out of your evening faster than a popping cork. Avoid the perception that you’re Nancy Drew investigating a crime scene, and keep what you’ve learned to yourself.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at
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