The Internet has forever altered the way people conduct most of their daily routines. This of course includes the way single people meet each other. While dating sites are quite convenient for people with busy schedules, they have opened the door to a new type of fraud, which isn’t a crime but people are still getting hurt. Catfishing is the common term for portraying an online persona using pictures of other people. It may seem like people would never be so dishonest, but there’s an entire television show dedicated to catching people committing the shameful act of catfishing. Were you Catfished?

What is Catfish Dating

Anyone who was unfamiliar with the act of catfishing was introduced to it in 2012. This is when former Notre Dame linebacker Manti T’o was seduced into a phoney, long term relationship. The star linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist became the subject of public and media scrutiny after admitting his three-year relationship with Lennay Kekua was a fake. When the story of the fake relationship broke in 2012, Te’o became the subject of a media feeding frenzy.

According to ABC News, Te’o reported that Kekua died from leukaemia the same day his grandmother passed away. However, it would soon be revealed that the girlfriend of three years was not dead, not Lennay Kekua, and not even a woman. It has been speculated that Te’o knew the relationship was a fake, but he went along with it to gain more votes for the nation’s most coveted college football achievement, the Heisman Trophy. Others who know Manti say his character is too solid to knowingly be catfished.

Catfish Internet Dating

It’s difficult to know if the linebacker was in on the scam or if he’s just the victim of circumstances, but it’s easy to feel sympathy for people in this position. Many people now use the Internet to meet new and interesting people because they have so little free time. This may hold especially true for student-athletes, but there are others who become susceptible to this deviant behaviour.

Immature and Bored

It’s important for people who date online to recognize the signs of catfish online dating. This can be tricky because there are three different types of catfish. Bored, secretly in love and lonely describe the motives of most catfish and they commit their frauds for various reasons. The bored catfish is a sadist who will never have any feelings for the other party. This type of catfish is usually someone young as they find the immature behaviour to be amusing. These catfish live for nothing more than to deceive other people online. Loneliness and heartache don’t factor into their decisions at all, and they soon lose interest in the people they mislead.

Warning Signs

  • Immature Conversation- This catfish will use a lot of Acronyms (OMG, SMH, LOL). He or she will have a high school mentality which will eventually shine through.
  • Lots of Lies- The bored catfish has nothing emotionally invested in the relationship and will take little time pre-think the lies.
  • One Profile Pic- Anyone can download a model’s picture from Google. The problem is finding multiple pictures of someone who isn’t famous enough for people to recognize. A single photo is a telltale sign of a bored, online dating catfish.

A Secret Crush

A catfish who is secretly in love knows the victim personally. Sometimes the two parties are close friends while others result from distant admiration. Either way, the catfish starts an online account with the sole purpose of attracting a single person. Since the catfish already knows all of the victim’s tendencies and habits, the relationship seems like a match made in heaven. This is what sparked the Manti Te’o situation, because the catfish (Ronaiah Tuiasosopo) knew Manti Te’o was a straight man, coveting a relationship with women. By pretending to be a female, Tuiasosopo was able to have the relationship he so desired. Secret admirers might be the oddest of the catfishing scenarios because the perpetrator is treating so cruelly someone for whom they care. There’s a certain air of selfishness and apathy involved in these cases which can end badly. The victim and the catfish are often times people who know each other well, and strong friendships can be lost.

Warning Signs

  • Perfect Pictures- Secret crushes know the exact characteristics to attract the victim. They may go as far as downloading multiple pictures from another dating site. The multiple pictures give the profile more legitimacy, but beware if the person seems TOO attractive.
  • Mr./Mrs. Unfriendly- Any profile should have at least a few dozen friends unless the person is just there to attract a specific person. If weeks go by and the other party doesn’t post, like or share something, the profile is probably a secret crush.
  • Moving Right Along- This Catfish is already in love so he or she will want to rush the relationship. The victim is far more susceptible because the crush knows intimate details. The crush presents the victim’s favourite, movies, songs and TV shows as his or her own. Before long the victims are overwhelmed by the false compatibility and they reciprocate the feelings.
  • Excuses, excuses- A secret crush will usually live in the same city, but he or she is always to busy to meet in person. Once Mr./Ms. Perfect has broken two engagements with lame excuses, it’s time to move on.

A Lonely Heart

The third type of catfish is the lonely heart just looking for someone to meet. These people may mean no harm by their actions, but people get hurt nonetheless. This person may eventually fall in love with the victim or it may be a case of serial catfishing. Some people have multiple fake accounts on multiple dating sites.

Warning Signs

  • Old Pictures- The lonely heart may have recently gained a lot of weight or even gone bald. Look out for profile photos that look like a picture of a picture. The lonely heart may use a camera to take pictures of high school photos. A flash glare in the photo is a dead giveaway, as are fashion styles in the pictures. If someone is wearing an Emitt Smith Cowboys jersey in all the photographs, he may have drastically changed since then.
  • Low Self Esteem- The lonely catfish may eventually begin to care for the victim. Eventually, these insecure individuals will make known their true feelings. They’re too embarrassed to use their own photograph because their self-image is so poor. If someone with rock hard abs is always complaining of belly fat, it’s a dead giveaway that the pictures are fake.
  • A Distant Dater- Someone who only has friends from other regions of the county may be looking to avoid face to face meetings. People from thousands of miles away are usually interested in closer companionship, unless they’re catfishing.

Skype to the Rescue

Though there are a lot of ways to fake an online relationship, there is one sure way to catch a catfish. The video phone software from Skype virtually eliminates the fear of catfishing. At least three lengthy Skype dates should be had before anyone enters an online relationship. Even if both parties are on opposite corners of the globe, they speak face to face on Skype. Unfortunately, there have been catfish who used paid models to Skype for them. However, this is the best tool for finding a fake.

Why do People get Catfished?

Catfishing is a despicable act, brought on by a despicable society. Americans place so much emphasis on physical appearance that it becomes the deciding factor in who becomes a couple. If the perfect man or woman was on an online dating site, most people would pass right by, because they want someone with green eyes. Catfishing is despicable but it’s a symptom of a larger issue. When people try to love with their eyes and not their hearts, the relationship is already in trouble. Traits like loyalty, devotion, compassion, and understanding are the threads to sew a loving relationship. Yet still, they’re rejected for qualities such as dimples or a cleft chin.

Very few catfishing relationships last after the victim finds out the truth. Even in instances where only the physical appearance is false, most catfished victims choose to move on. Though they’ve already carved out a functioning relationship, the physical appearance overrides the intangibles. Many say it’s just dishonesty but consider this. Very few women who look like Halle Berry would be rejected for posting photos of Biance. It’s the unattractive physical appearance of the catfish that ends the relationship, and this shallow mode of thinking is what created the problem in the first place.