Catfishing is a deceptive practice in which individuals lure unsuspecting victims into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.
That's unnerving, and although the term has been around since at least the 1940s, it gained significant attention in our social media age thanks to the documentary Catfish, about a man who developed an online relationship with a woman who was not what she seemed.
Today's burning question came from Redditor XerXesKay, who asked: "Redditors, have you ever been catfished? How did you deal or are you dealing with it at the moment?"
"Met a chick on some random app..."
Met a chick on some random app, we talked, trades photos, made plans to meet up. I went to her place and when she opened the door she looked nothing like the pictures she sent me. I thought it was a prank or maybe her sister or a friend, but she greeted me by name and invited me in. I thought to myself maybe I'm misremembering the pictures. So after some time chatting I go to the bathroom to check those photos and they are in fact not her. Hair color, skin tone, and general body shape are the same, but it's not her. So I text my dad and ask him to call me in about 20 minutes in a panic. I go out, act normal, get a panicked phone call, then leave in a hurry. Never spoke to her since. I felt bad at first, but the more I thought about it I realized she's the one who tried to dupe me and there is something very wrong with a person to use photos of someone else to represent them, then expect it to just work out or be okay.
"Well the short answer is that I married her."
Well the short answer is that I married her. I met my wife on Yahoo messenger in 2004 when she was 14 and I was 15. We spoke over messenger, then a few months later over the phone every single day. I decided to send her an extra webcam that I had so we could video chat for the first time. Everything was good until she received it in the mail about 4-5 days later, then before turning it on she spilled everything. She had lied about her name, appearance and was using a fake email. It took hours but I finally talked her into turning the camera on and showing me and of course it wasn't no where close to the pics.
Months of speaking for hours a day, I was heartbroken and I told her to explain why she lied for so long. She told me that not only did she have some anxiety about her looks but her mom was extremely strict on what she was doing over the internet. I felt betrayed so I told her to give me a week or so to think about everything and she cried and begged me not to do that and we could be friends. I ended up ignoring her for a couple of weeks but I could not help but miss her like crazy. I finally started to accept and understand more of why she lied and honestly I wasn't disappointed in the way she looked either, in fact I think I liked her better than the fake pics.
I called one day out of the blue and she was so happy to hear from me and we decided to "try" this long distance relationship even at a very young age. Well, as a cancer survivor I had to take yearly trips Memphis Tennessee to St. Judes hospital for check ups and I finally talked her mom into bringing her to meet me there since it was only an hour drive from their home town. In person, we just clicked. We had so much fun and had so much in common that we had to keep trying.
Fast forward to now, she moved to my home town, we are now married, have a house, a car and have lived together for almost 10 years.
"Yeah, she was super manipulative..."
My (now ex, of course) wife once tried to catfish me WHILE WE WERE MARRIED. Made a very obviously fake Facebook profile named Ashley something or other, had a bunch of obviously overly flirty conversation, talked way too much shit on herself, and even sent me a picture of a random pair of tits. I was suspicious front the get-go, but I let it continue until I had definitive proof that she was behind it. Always giving her just enough to keep up the conversation, but never incriminating myself. I waited until i saw the messages that I was sending to 'Ashley' pop up on her phone. And once I had proof, I still waited to see what she would do. The next day, she texted me while I was at work asking 'do you know Ashley (whatever the last name was)?' I played dumb and said no, and she was like 'oh really? Because she told me you've been flirting with her.' And that's when I decided enough is enough and called her out on it.
When I confronted her, she still tried to spin the blame on me, saying that I 'failed her test' because I didn't immediately come to her and tell her that another woman was flirting with me. She also claimed to have had some guy send a picture of his dick, which she was planning to use to accuse me of sending a picture of my dick to this fake woman, as if I don't know what my own dick looks like.
Yeah, she was super manipulative, insecure, and controlling, and getting divorced was the best decision I've ever made.
"I go to said diner..."
So, I've been catfished before...
I was in the site OkCupid, and this 23 year old woman starts talking to me. We talk, kind of hit it off, and then she wants me to go to her place. I say no, because I don't want to go to a strangers place, as that is what I was taught for years. Always meet up in public. She says fine, and recommends a diner near her.
I go to said diner, and there's no woman. I'm standing around the front, a little confused as she had emailed me and said she was there.
At that point (and I am not joking here), a 40+, overweight, unkempt MAN walks up to me, and tells me he actually is the woman I had been talking to. Startled, all I could say was "What? Why?!" He then told me he thought that since I was already here, I'd want to hang out anyway.
I pretty much yelled out "What the fuck, asshole! What the fuck is wrong with you?!" and left very quickly.
I'm not gonna lie, that little situation made me VERY paranoid from then on in dating. I don't want to think about what might have happened if I went to "her" place, and was met with... that.
Maybe he was mentally ill, or really lonely, honestly I don't care, you don't go lying about that.
"I met a girl on OKCupid..."
I met a girl on OkCupid many years ago named Cassie. She was a med student at U Chicago and after chatting briefly she decided we wouldn't be a good match and should just be friends. For nearly 2 years we were best buds, chatting online every day and sharing deep secrets about ourselves. We never spoke on the phone, never met in person.
Then, I met a girl named Lana. Turns out she was also a med student at U Chicago. I asked Cassie about her and she said she knew her, but that her name wasn't Lana. Lana and I proceeded to email back and forth for a long time, with her saying she would love to go on a date with me after her boards exams were finished but that she was too busy at this time.
Eventually I got impatient — young people are stupid — and demanded we meet up. Things went sour from there. Both people disappeared at the same time and no amount of Googling ever identified either of them.
To this day, I am convinced that neither of those people were real and I was part of some elaborate U Chicago psychology experiment to find out how much strangers would reveal about themselves to someone they never met. I felt like Cassie was my best friend, and like Lana would have been an ideal partner for me. It was heartbreaking to see them both disappear at the same time.
Oh gosh. Yes. Yes I have and it was wild. I started talking to this guy on tinder back in 2014 or so. I was still young and new at online dating so I didn't vet the guys very well. This guy was cute and had some photos of him from far away. He looked totally normal. As we talked he let me know he still lived with his mom and was about 1.5 hours away. I breezed through a couple more red flags and we agreed to meet somewhat in the middle.
I arrived first and sat at the bar. I told the bartender it was a blind date so I'd have some backup if I needed it. I ordered a beer and was waiting about 5 minutes when this guy waddled in. He was maybe 5'2 and probably around 250+. I smiled and said hi and thought to myself " I drove 45 minutes for this, I'm going to enjoy dinner at least". As he sat down he handed me fake flowers. But they weren't just any fake flowers, they were 4th of July fake flowers and they looked like they'd just been pulled from their location in the dirt. I accepted them and we said hellos and ordered food. Right before the food came he said he was going to the bathroom.
I started eating and the bartender and I exchanged looks that said "well this is happening ". Ten minutes go by and he's still not back from the bathroom. Now I'm about halfway through my food. 10 more minutes passed and I finally texted him. "You okay in there?" No response. Finally it's been about 30 minutes and I realize he's left. I finished my meal, told the bartender he left, ordered another beer. They didn't make me pay for his food and I left.
So yep I got catfished and he left about 20 minutes into the date. I've been amused about it ever since. I don't know what he expected, I definitely looked like the photos I had up and he definitely didn't.
"Talked to a girl for a month or so."
Happened to me once a long time ago:
Talked to a girl for a month or so before deciding meet up (with romantic intentions), and since we lived on opposite ends of the country--which was a long ride--she wanted to stay with me for a week. Great; no problems. The day arrived and so did she, but she was conciderably... bigger... than her photos led on. Barely even recognized her. Don't get me wrong; I don't mind a little extra thicc, but I do mind being lied to and the extend in which she went to hide her weight was both sad and slightly impressive. But, since we'd spend a whole week together, I didn't mention it and instead tried to have a good time--which we had. Only regret I have was having sex with her since I didn't do it out of attraction and/or affection, but out of compulsion since she was really pushy about it and I felt like I "owed" it to her for spending money and time on travel.
Haven't online dated since, and have no plans to do it again.
"Then one day he broke down."
I think my catfishing story is pretty innocent. Met a super sweet boy. He was funny, we talked well, had a nice personality. But not my type exactly. Overtime he got depressed through, and I kept trying to find out why. We would skype, and I'd see him. He'd be hiding most of his face behind his hand cause he was shy and wearing a beanie all the way down in his eyes. But I saw him. I heard his voice. Did not second guess anything. I mean, not a deep voice. But a reasonable voice since we were only 14 or so.
Then one day he broke down. He had to tell me. I'd known him for a year. Told he was actually a she. She was gay, had known so for many years, and had a deep crush on me. But had figured if she pretended she was a guy, we could end up dating.
Now.. girls don't do it for me. But I felt sorry for her. So I agreed to online date her. It only lasted a few weeks though. Before we agreed it wasn't working because I couldn't see her as more as a friend. We stayed friends for a while. But over time lost contact. I often think of her.
"Anyway, I invited her to a bar..."
I accidentally catfished a girl. We met in January in front of the student union at school. Since it was cold as hell I was bundled up in typical winter wear: hat, scarf, heavy jacket, jeans, black leather boots. Anyway I got her number and we chatted on the phone a few times and went out on a date. I threw on some jeans, black boots a baseball cap and a flannel shirt. We ended up having lunch at a diner and then went back to her place that she shared with her mom and watched TV. This went on for a few weeks: we would meet up somewhere at school or at lunch and then chill at her place. I was a total gentleman too because she was a little younger than me and from another country and sort of seemed naive. She only had one other boyfriend before she met me.
Anyway, I invited her to a bar to see my band play. She wasn't legal drinking age but that's no big deal because I pretty much knew everyone and could easily get her into a bar no problem. My roommate actually went and picked her up because I had to set up our show. This was dumpy little bar so we had a lot of work to do onstage since we had a lot of electronic equipment.
So her and the roommate get there, take a seat at the bar and I came up and told her how excited I was that she was there. She looked at me like she had never seen me before. And then I realized she never really did. Like every time we hung out I was wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt and a hat. So she never saw my blue spiky hair, my tattoos, my spiked belt, my Dead Kennedy's "Nazi Punks Fuck Off!" t-shirt or my black leather jacket covered in spikes and patches of bands like Black Flag and Circle Jerks.
She had no idea I was a punk rocker dude. None at all. And since she was from a small town in the middle of a 3rd world country and only been in America for less than a year I guess she missed some clues like the fact that most of my flannel shirts had writing on them or my hats had band names or were plaid. But in the end it all worked out. We've been married almost 12 years. Together almost 20.
"What perhaps stings most..."
Yes. Chatted for years with this woman, and she was perfect... too perfect, looking back. I was in love, and from what she let me to believe, she was too. We even talked about plans for the future together.
Until she dropped from hours of chatting per day, to one email in two weeks, to none at all, no replies, no nothing.
Last email was over 2 years ago. Still miss her. Heavily suspect I got catfished. Looking back, all the red flags were there. The photos she sent, were never a spontaneous selfie. Her first and last name were very common, so impossible to google. And a few others.
Luckily, no money was lost, only my pride. Still miss 'her', after 2 years, and am still hoping she will turn up one day, even though I know I shouldn't.
She even said things like "every relationship can work... as long as you have faith, and work hard". I feel I did both and still have faith.
Told her one time my biggest fear was waking up one day and finding out she was gone, that it was all a dream. I guess I woke up.
What perhaps stings most, is that I wasn't even allowed a breakup message... Even a simple "this isn't working, I'm out" would have given me some closure. Instead, I kept (and still am) hoping for some miracle to happen.
This sounds cliched, I know, but even after those years after 'she' left... I doubt I will ever feel the same way about anyone again. I'm too shy to meet new people anyway, especially after shit like this, so...
Am not feeling good about life.
"He told me he was a marine..."
Met a guy on a dating site. He told me he was a marine, went to a top military school in the States (despite the fact we are both in Europe) and sent me a picture of what he led me to believe was himself: a tall, dark, handsome man in very good shape. We agree to meet in the lobby of the hotel I was going to stay at while in his city.
I come down to find a guy sitting in the darkest area of the lobby waiting for me. I greeted him, he looked sort of the same as the guy in the picture but shorter, around my height (5'6). The guy in the picture was at least 6'2 ish, but I thought, meh, I could have made a mistake. You can't correctly judge height in pictures anyway, unless they are standing next to something or someone you know for scale.
So I disregard my intuition and we talk for about two hours. I say I have to go back to my room as I am a bit tired after travelling. He wonders if he can join me in my room. It's a polite no from me, but he suggests we meet the next day. I agree, knowing I can always back out of it since I'm still on the fence.
When I get back to my room I immediately check the picture he sent me. Having stared at this guy's face for two hours I now immediately see it is definitely not him. I sent him a message saying that he is not the guy in the picture and that I am not interested in meeting the next day. He insists it is him, and that I am sorely mistaken. The entire time I was in his city he never stopped texting me. I blocked him. When I got back to my home city he began a campaign of sending me weekly email messages. I'd block him and he'd just come back with a new email address, telling me things like "I should have fucked you that night", as if my consent in the matter was non-consequential.
I ended up deleting my entire profile on the dating site as well as my email address.
I got catfished a few years ago on one of those free dating sites. The guy in the pictures was really hot, like model hot, but he had enough photos on his profile it seemed legit. I saw it said he went to my school but I'd never seen him before, and a guy this hot I feel like I'd notice (which in hindsight should've been a red flag) but at the time I was curious so I sent the first message. We start chatting, and we hit it off. Lots of common interests, he makes good conversation. Tells me he's a commuter and his schedule is irregular. That explains to me well enough why I'd never seen him (the kids who commuted to the school were like a separate social sphere). He says he's seen me before but he feels awkward just approaching people. I can buy that.
Anyway, fast forward like a week. We've texted and chatted on the phone, and I'm ready to meet him. Schedule a time and a place, of course he no-shows. I sat around for like 45 mins. It's in an open area on campus with a bunch of tables so people are coming and going. There's this one kind of shabby looking overweight guy who sat like 2 tables away for like 30 minutes doing nothing. I don't interact with him but I notice he's glancing at me every once and a while. But it's art school, people are weird, maybe he's drawing me on a pad I can't see? Wouldn't be the first time.
So I go back to my dorm, I'm pissed, and I let the dude know. He gives me some stuff about something came up last minute and he tried to call but something or other excuses excuses. I'm forgiving and say I'll give him another shot but that I was busy that week so it wouldn't be until the next weekend. He's good with that.
So we keep talking in the meantime. I tried video chatting him a couple of times, but every time he declined them with some excuse. Throughout the week I notice that shabby overweight guy in a few more places. I keep getting that weird "watching you" feeling from him.
So one night, shortly before the weekend, we're talking and I just happen to mention, half-joking "I think I have a stalker" and this guy gets immediately defensive with things like "are you sure you're not misinterpreting it?" and I'm just like woah, hold on a minute. This guy gets all worked up then goes radio silent for a while. Comes back to me with apology texts a few hours later, and I'm just like wtf. That's when 2 and 2 start to come together. I ask the guy why he never showed, why he won't video chat etc. Starts telling me I'd be upset. I ask why, he won't tell. Finally I just say "those are not your pictures, are they?" He admits it, and I ask him who he is. Sends me his picture. He's the overweight shabby guy. He then asks me if we're still on, and I'm like obviously not dude. He then launches into the obligatory "you're shallow and won't date me because I'm fat" tirade and I simply said "I can look past the weight, but I can't look past a liar" and blocked him.
He tried following me once after that but I made a massive scene and he dipped. Never saw him again. Thank god.
"This happened to me when I was young..."
This happened to me when I was young, like 14 or 15. I came across a "guy" on a website and we chatted over AIM for several years.
Eventually it kind of started to get chaotic on his end and so I started to ask questions. It came out that he was female and I actually didn't mind, I was bi anyway. It didn't work out for literally 10000 reasons, but it is one of those shameful things I carry with me.
Thank God I never sent money or photos or anything.
"That was the end of that."
Sort of. Was also sorta my fault. Matched with a guy on tinder who had a profile picture of two guys. I automatically assumed he was the guy at the very front of the picture because he was the only one in focus. The other guy was in the background and you could barely see his face, only a tiny amount of his head was showing, actually. Guy at the front had his full body on show and I thought it was pretty obvious that was him.
My stupid ass didn't ask, anyway. I mean in my defence here, who would have a tinder profile picture where only a tiny portion of their head is on show? I'm sure many girls got caught out with this dude.
Arrived to meet him and he was obviously not the guy in the photo. He was the one lurking in the background. I was pretty surprised but I took the date in my stride. He seemed a nice guy, so I went back to his for drinks.
He put a Harry Potter film on (whatever, I love HP!!) and proceeded to say the lines word for word with each and every character. That was the end of that. Never saw him again.
"When I was in high school..."
When I was in high school, I had a very distant friendship with a certain boy there, but he became obsessed with me. After repeatedly asking me out and becoming increasingly creepy, I cut all ties with him. Years later, after we had both graduated, he still tried to find ways to contact me to tell me he was still in love and that we were meant for each other.
In college, I started using tinder and other dating apps. This boy must've seen my profile at some point, because he made countless profiles hoping to match with me. Whenever I matched one of his fake accounts, he would message me and try to turn the conversation sexual as quickly as possible.
I figured out it was him pretty quickly from his writing style, the fact that he was using images of girls he was Facebook friends with but that didn't go to our high school, and some other giveaways. It was extraordinarily creepy, and I wasn't able to use apps like that for years because of him. I still FaceTime everyone I match with before talking to them, because I still worry one of them will really be him.
Once. Met on OKCupid. I didn't take it very seriously because she seemed nuts, was also talking to a friend of mine and once she started sending pics, it was pretty clear none were of the same person. One day I tripped over the person many of the pics actually belonged to on the same site. Called her out about it on AIM, and she immediately blocked us.
"I had some success in college athletics..."
Yeah. I had some success in college athletics but had a really poor social life having devoted a sport. Well, I would messages time and time from random fans and people asking for advice and such. Some the conversation would go further, some would not. There was one person where the conversation went on for a good few months. It turned out the person wasn't real. It kind of sucked because they were one of the few if not only person I have had, up until knowing, a good relationship with. It's been a good five years and haven't been able to make a friend even remotely close to the person that lied about who they were.
"We chatted back and forth..."
Yes, and we've been happily dating for over a year now.
I 'met' this guy on okcupid, and we immediately hit it off. He was the same age as me (19), really sweet, cute and fun to talk to, actually seemed like he was interested in getting to know me rather than just trying to get something out of me. I'd had some pretty bad experiences with boring and downright creepy guys on the site before, so this was a huge breath of fresh air.
We chatted back and forth on the site for a while, before switching to discord, where we talked increasingly over the next few months, gradually getting closer. We never talked on voice chat, because he said he was too shy, which I guess, strange, but I didn't question it much because honestly, I was too.
Things carried on for a while like this. Meeting in person wasn't really on the table for a while at least, since we were both young and lacking in money and lived a couple hundred miles from each other. But we talked for hours almost every day, played videogames together, generally had a great time.
Eventually, we started flirting with the idea of organising a trip for one of us to come visit the other. He seemed very enthusiastic about it at times, at others, weirdly awkward and distant. After this happened a couple of times, I asked him what was wrong. After trying to avoid it but me continually pressing, he told me.
I hadn't been talking to who I had thought. Most of the details had been correct. The age, the general life situation and day to day events...but 'he' was actually 'she', a closeted lesbian. She immediately broke down apologizing, but my mind was spinning. I couldn't believe I'd been lied to for so long. I told her I didn't like girls that way, immediately blocked her on all platforms and ran to bed in tears.
I tried my best to carry on with things as normal for about a week. But honestly, even if I'd been lied to, I couldn't help but miss her. Maybe some of the particulars had been lies, but I realised I genuinely still missed the companionship, and more than that, I still felt something romantically between us.
After a few more days of hard self-reflection and thought, I unblocked her on discord, and messaged her. We talked for a while. She apologised profusely and said she'd never expected to hear from me again, nor did she think she deserved to. I said I understood, and we talked through things for a long time. Reasons, thoughts, feelings. I said I'd realised that even though I'd never had feelings like that for a girl before, I did for her, and if she still wanted to, we could at least try and make it work.
So far, it is, we've met up amd visited each other several times now, and honestly I'm the happiest I've ever been!
I left. It's not that I didn't find her attractive, it was a trust issue. Right out the gate you show me you decided to lie about something that you couldn't hide. You know eventually I'd see you in person and know you lied about that. How can I trust anything you've told me up to that point after that? How can I trust that later, when something happens you should tell me but can easily hide, that you will? It's starting things off on a very bad foot.
"Normal tinder convo."
Normal tinder convo. Little too sexual from her part, so I was pretty suspicious. So I asked for snap. Got a snap. Was just getting snaps of "her" watching TV. Asked to see her face and just got a snap of some dude's face with a message "never had someone be so suspicious before". Talked to him for 5 minutes just kinda curious what he catfishes for, then deleted him. Good times.