It’d be nice to live in a world where everyone is 100% honest about their intentions all of the time, but spending any time on the internet will teach you that that is simply not the case.
Unfortunately, people lie when they can hide behind the internet. Sometimes they lie about small things that aren’t that important, but other times they lie about important things like their identity. And that, my dear friends, is called catfishing.
What Is Catfishing, Exactly?
Consider yourself lucky if this is something that you’ve never been exposed to, because catfishing rarely ends well for either party involved. In simple terms, catfishing is when someone creates a version of themselves that isn’t entirely accurate, or perhaps they assume an entirely new identity using pictures or information that isn’t theirs.
Catfishing Isn’t Just A Symptom Of Internet Dating
We’ve become more aware of the concept in recent years, though people have actually been doing it for years. If you wanted to, you could have just as easily catfished someone through regular old snail mail, and people absolutely did.
The Internet Has Definitely Made It Easier, Though
There’s no doubt though that the internet has made catfishing people a heck of a lot easier. You can portray whatever personality you want or only share the information you want people to know.
It Can Happen To Anyone
Thanks to TV shows like Catfish, most people are aware of the concept of catfishing, but we often fall victim to the trap of thinking “it couldn’t happen to me.” You might convince yourself you’re being paranoid or look past signs because you don’t want it to be true.
The Signs To Watch For
If something feels a little off with your new potential suitor or you’re just getting a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach, you should probably listen to your intuition. Here are a few other things to watch for too, if you’re worried you’re about to become a cautionary tale.
All Their Social Media Accounts Are Recently Made
Be wary of people who only have social media accounts that seem to have been created recently. They might have 18 posts on their Instagram, but all of them are from the last 2 weeks, plus they haven’t even bothered to set a Facebook profile picture yet. These are reasons to be suspicious.
They Don’t Post Or Have A Lot Of Followers
Another scenario could be that they have all the usual social media accounts, but there are no posts on any of them, and they don’t seem to have any use for them. Lots of people have a certain platform they favor more than others, but if they have a snap score of 12 even though they’ve had an account for three years, plus they have 2 friends on Facebook and no posts on Instagram? Alarm bells should be ringing.
It All Seems Too Good To Be True
I’m not trying to make you paranoid about every potential love interest you ever interact with, but this comes down to your gut check. If this person you’re talking to seems a little too perfect or the whole situation seems a little too good to be real, it could be the truth.
They Can’t Elaborate On Things Listed In Their Profile
Even things as simple as getting details about the job they supposedly have or the city they live in is like pulling teeth. They change the subject whenever you ask about the hobbies in their profile and don’t like to talk about their job or anything about their life.
They Can’t Send You A Photo If You Ask For It
Maybe you’re starting to get a little suspicious, so you decide to ask them to send you a spontaneous selfie in the middle of a conversation. They probably stopped answering for an hour or two or gave you a reason for why they couldn’t send it at the time, right?
Video Chatting Is Out Of The Question Too
It’s pretty common for people in a relationship to FaceTime or video chat, especially if you don’t live close to each other but still want to try to pursue something. If they refuse every offer to chat, you should be wary.
They Ask You For Money
This is probably the one sign that we’re all aware of as a major red flag when interacting with people online. No one should be asking you for money in the beginning stages of a relationship, especially if you’ve never met them in person.
They Make Plans To Meet Up Then Bail At The Last Second
You’ve connected with this person online, you feel like you’ve found one of the good ones, so you agree to meet up, but it never happens. They’re leading you on, making it feel more legitimate because they’re “willing” to meet up, but then something always comes up at the last minute and they have to reschedule.
Everyone Around You Seems Suspicious
It can be hard to see it in the moment, but you have to lean on the people who know you best. If all the people closest to you are pointing out that something seems fishy, you should listen to them.
They Reach Out To You First
Someone contacting you out of the blue to express romantic interest, especially in a more non-traditional way (e.g., on Facebook or over email rather than through a dating app) probably doesn’t have the best intentions.
They Won’t Take Your Phone Calls
There are different levels of commitment to catfishing someone. If someone is maybe just not being truthful about their appearance, they might be willing to talk on the phone, but if they won’t even do that, then it’s a major red flag.
All Their Photos Are Professionally Done
Every picture on their profile is super high quality, clearly professionally done. Most people usually toss in a selfie or a photo with their friends into their dating profile, so why does this person only have headshots or photos of them that are staged?
Reverse Image Search Is Your Friend
This is where you’re going to want to consider using reverse image search. Take those professional-looking photos and toss them into Google. You’ll likely have an answer about whether or not they’ve taken the photos from another person’s website or profile.
They’re Over-The-Top Into You
From the very beginning, they’ve been over the top in expressing their feelings for you. Someone who is trying to lure someone else will often compliment them a lot or make big declarations of love and affection because they want to convince you they’re genuine.
You Are Your Best Defense
It seems repetitive, but trusting your gut in these situations really is going to be your best defense. Err on the side of caution if you suspect that you might be getting catfished. Keep your own sharing of personal information to a minimum, and don’t push past things because you feel like you’re overreacting.