Make personal safety a top priority before you begin a relationship with anyone — do the background check!
There you are, falling in love with the great guy you recently met. You took all the preliminary precautions, and you have safely met the man of your dreams. He lavishes you with all the attention you could want, you’re thinking about introducing him to your family, and everything is going great. You’re on top of the world, walking on endorphins and the rest of the chemical cocktail coursing through your body.
This is the time you need to implement your second layer of personal security.
It may seem like a terrible time, but this is exactly when you need to be at your most aware. This is the time when you are letting down your barriers and giving a stranger entre into your personal world. This is the time when you need to do your homework and avoid getting played.
Avoid Getting Played
Homework, you ask? Yes. You need to do some investigation to determine if this guy really is who he says he is, that he isn’t on the sex offender list, already married or otherwise encumbered; that he is financially stable enough not to drag you down with him; that he isn’t delinquent on his child support; that he doesn’t have a criminal record that will come back to haunt you; and that he does not have any sexually transmitted diseases that you do NOT want.
- Verify that he is not on the sex offender list. If you find him on the list, walk away, no matter what the story is. Repeat, no matter what. You do not want to have anything to do with a man with that kind of past.
- Google him. You can learn a lot about someone from stalking them online. Check out their social media profiles, look for anything that makes you want more information, pay attention to red flags and trust your instincts.
- Run Criminal and Civil Background Checks. Although you can uncover a lot about him yourself with a few well-placed internet searches, you may not be able to see the whole picture. You need to run criminal and civil background checks on him, and depending on how internet savvy you are and the laws in your state, you may find that you need to hire a background investigation service to get the job done. Will this cost you? Yes, it will. But how much would it cost you to get involved with someone who isn’t who he says he is? How much would a con-man take you for? You need to know if he is or ever was married or if he has children he forgot to mention or forgotten to support. You need to know if he has a pattern of getting involved in litigations whether he is the plaintiff or the defendant. You’re looking for any criminal complaints as well or misdemeanors that may include domestic violence, drug charges, or reckless driving.
- Was/Is He Married? If he tells you that he has been married, or if you turn that little tidbit up during the investigation, you need to require a SIGNED copy of the divorce decree before you go any further. Notice, I said SIGNED. I got duped by an un-signed divorce decree once. Look for the signatures.
- Check for STDs. Then there is the other test that both of you need to take – the sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS test. Do this before you are intimate, for both of your sakes. It may be awkward and embarrassing to bring this up to the guy you are dating, but it really is a matter of life or death. It’s a small fee and a couple of hours of your time. Worth it. Trust me. Demand to see the paper from his doctor proving that he is STD-free.
It is worth a couple of hundred dollars to be sure that you are not unwittingly headed for disaster. As a relationship counselor, I see the fallout all the time when women don’t do the homework and end up broken-hearted and broke after some guy lied to them, used them and took them for all they were worth – all because they failed to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their children.
Maybe your new guy is everything he says he is, nobody is perfect, and we all have a past, but before you become deeply involved with someone and give them your love, your home, and your body, you need to make sure that there are no skeletons in his closet that can jump out and hurt you in the future.
Meet the Family
Finally, as you consider a long-term relationship with someone, you need to meet their family before things go too far. Why? Because some people’s family are more than you may be willing to endure over the coming decades. It’s true that he is not responsible for their actions, but if you marry him, they will become your family and your children’s family. Do they pass muster? Are there all kinds of congenital problems you may want to know about? Are they crazy, violent, or maybe just the most wonderful people in the world that you will be glad to call Family. You won’t know until you spend some time with them.
We all need a second chance now and again, so I’m not trying to say that if your man has a crazy family, has ever done anything, owes any money, or has made any mistakes you should ditch him. No. But what I am saying is that you need to be smart and make it your business to find out what that past is so you can decide whether it is something you can live with, and most importantly, so you can know that he is a truthful man who accepts responsibility for his actions and behaves honorably.
So, do your due diligence, check him out thoroughly. If you find that you have been served a plate of lies, you can walk away before it is too late. If you find he’s been truthful, if human, you can make an informed choice as to what you will and won’t tolerate. And if he turns out to be a wonderful as you already knew he was, great! You can now proceed with peace of mind into the land of Love.
Read more about how to keep yourself safe as you find your perfect partner in my book A Single DIVA’s Guide to The Science of Falling in Love.