If you are reading this and thinking that “catfish” refers to an actual fish, then I’m assuming you haven’t been in the online dating game very long (or at all) and/or have been living under a rock. But never fear, I’ll bring you up to speed with the 21st century…
A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not online to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances. If you have been deceived by a catfish, then you’ve been catfished. The term really caught on with (or maybe even originated from) the movie Catfish, which was then spun off into MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show. Then when Manti Te’o was catfished, I think people started to realize, “oh shit, if this could happen to a star football player at a good college…then maybe it could happen to me too.” Want to read up more on the background of the word catfish? Here‘s a good article. Still confused? This synopsis of a Catfish: The TV Show episode should help: watch here.
Clearly, catfishing is a huge dating problem. The thing is, it tends to happen to those who are okay with talking to someone for weeks without ever meeting other person… and I barely have the patience to chat for a few days. Needless to say, I’ve never been completely catfished (meaning: the person I’d been talking to was a totally different guy than who he claimed to be). That said, I – along with tons of other online daters I know – have been kinda catfished (meaning: the person I’d been talking to was real but his profile terribly misrepresented what he was actually like).
There are plenty of ways that this happens, but here are the most common ones I see..
Probably the most common occurrence of the “kinda catfish” problem is exaggeration of height. Look, it’s one thing to tell someone it’s 3:30 when it’s actually 3:28, but it is a completely different thing to say you are 5’10” when you are really 5’8″. That’s the difference between wearing heels and wearing flats to the first date. Bottom line: just list your true height, daters.
I totally get that people deliberately choose their best photos for dating profiles – or any online profile, for that matter. I do it, you do it, everyone does it. But c’mon, people, at least choose pictures that resemble the way you look today. If you are balding, then don’t post photos from when you had a full head of hair. If you have gained weight, then don’t be choosing pictures from when you were 30 pounds lighter. And as a general rule, you probably shouldn’t be including any photos taken over five years ago (that’s being conservative). Bottom line: go ahead and make yourself look good, but make sure it looks like the way you look today.
As someone who doesn’t exactly enjoy the whole messaging and texting part of online dating prior to the first date, it’s the best when someone has some wit or humor to make it all more bearable. Heck, it’s great when they can simply just carry on a basic conversation so it doesn’t feel like I am pulling teeth the entire time. So you can imagine the disappointment when this person is dull and blah in person. Bottom line: don’t suck in person.
So, daters, take this opportunity to review your online profiles. Give it to a friend to review if you need to. Just don’t be catfishing anyone… even if it’s just kinda.