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The fastest way to vet an online date

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Beth Cook is a dating coach and wing-woman who throws private dating events for San Francisco’s most awesome and unattached. She also writes and draws about her own dating experiences and would love to hear from you. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

I’m the kind of person who will go on a date (or three) with anyone I’m even the slightest bit attracted to. Why not? I always think: what have I got to lose?

Sometimes though, my judgment is a bit off—especially when it comes to online dating.

When you meet someone online and have approximately zero friends in common, you really have no idea what this person is capable of, good or bad. All you have is your gut instinct—which is easily ignorable when you’re desperate to end a multi-month sex dry-spell.

When in doubt about a rando you met on OkCupid, bring in the friends!

I’ve done this a few times and discovered it’s a brilliant idea. Here’s why:

1. You could easily be fooled by some hottie with good make-out moves, but your friends won’t be. They have nothing at stake but your best interests; and they are the harshest of critics. Having them along will ensure that you don’t get silly tipsy, go to the bathroom and say to yourself “He’s not bad. I could get into death metal…maybe I should go home with him.”

2. You will get a very good sense of someone by how they navigate a group of people. Do they stand in the corner, blurt a few too many dirty jokes, or skip their turn buying a round of drinks? A group date will reveal your prospect’s communications skills, manners, social appropriateness, etc.—which is information gold.

3. Invisible red flags will wave in social settings. Someone may seem perfectly normal one-on-one and turn into a jealous maniac or crazy asshole around others. You better find out sooner than later. For instance, I once took a date to a friend’s birthday party and he asked another attendee for her phone number. Not okay!

If this strategy seems a little weird, just think back to college when group courting was the only way to roll. It worked then, didn’t it?

One thing to note: you should only use this tactic a couple of times per person. Once you’ve received the friend stamp of approval, you’ll need to figure out if this dude/chick is great in the other ways that count. :)

Photo by Sean MacEntee