The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: Googling the guy you’re dating? Readers weigh in with their views.


Adapted from a recent online discussion and continued from yesterday.

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

As someone with similar Googlable “skeletons” in my family closet, I would really encourage yesterday’s letter-writer to think about exactly why it scares her [that her date’s father apparently killed his mother]. The possibility of having to meet the father? What other people will say? What she would tell their eventual kids? A little voice telling her this explains something she hadn’t fully realized was bugging her about this guy?

If it’s anything other than the last, I encourage her to give this guy a chance. And if she can’t let it go, then she should admit that maybe she’s not the gal he needs. No one needs to feel like they are being punished for the crimes of their relatives.


(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

Thank you. The letter-writer followed up with this: “I’ve noticed as I get older that I do things so similarly to my mother, as much as that drives me crazy!! For this guy, his primary relationship model went horribly, horribly wrong. I guess I am struggling with the fact that even though I want to be different from my mother, I am not. So even if he wants to be different from his father, how possible is it?”

My advice, again, is to defer to “The Gift of Fear.” People can be different; the important thing here is spotting whether this man is.

Meanwhile, some strong feelings on search-engine screening:

●I moderate an online forum where I use my real name. I suspended a line-crossing poster, who then created a false and inflammatory “news item” that would show up whenever anyone Googled me. Not everything you read in search results is an honest reflection of who people are.


●Wow, it’s that accepted to Google someone? If a guy I was dating told me he did it, I’d think he was a crazy, paranoid creep. If I were this guy, I’d feel like my privacy had been massively invaded and I’d never call her again.

Anonymous 2

●It’s just the high-tech version of asking friends what they know about the new guy. I’d be surprised if someone didn’t look me up.


●I am acquainted with a guy who murdered his mother. He is a smart, charming and talented guy — if a little odd — and no one would guess he had such a terrible secret. This guy dates a lot and has had girlfriends. I seriously doubt he tells them he murdered his mother. Google away. And go through all the pages.

Anonymous 3

●Someone with my name writes really bad, sappy poetry and submits it to multiple online poetry sites; I’d be ashamed to be associated with her.

Don’t Google Me!

●Googling someone is one thing. But unless there’s some kind of relationship going on, it is seriously rude to mention it to someone.

Google Redux

●I Google MYSELF. I also Google job candidates, vendors, parents of my kids’ friends before play dates, etc. It’s not like you are breaking into their house or digging through their trash.

Anonymous 4

●Someone thinks it’s wrong to Google dates?? I can’t imagine investing time in someone without at least checking what’s out there.

Anonymous 5

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at



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