How to Know the Difference between a Genuine Connection and a Catfish
Photo by Jae Park

The thrill and excitement when you start talking to someone new is unmatched! A little butterfly jumps at every ping of the text alert, and you start thinking to yourself, “Oh boy! Am I in trouble?” Well, you could be, quite literally, in trouble if your online date turns out to be a catfish.

Online dating is like a goldmine for busy singles. You put yourself out there in the best possible light, match with an interesting person, and hope for the best. Some do find luck as their online dates progress into a committed relationship or even marriage. But for the other unfortunate lot, it turns out to be time and effort wasted, even if they have some “fun” in the pursuit. Sadly enough, there is an even more unfortunate group in the online dating world whose efforts meet the worst fate – getting catfished.

Honesty is a rare quality. And even less commonly practiced on dating apps. Many active users on dating sites have reported that they lie or have omitted personal details on their profiles. Men mostly lie by adding some inches to their height or zeroes to their income, whereas women avoid questions about their age to attract better matches. While these seemingly “harmless” lies may still be unethical, they are nothing compared to the shocking betrayal or getting catfished by a scammer or, worse, a stalker. So, if you’re active on the online dating scene, you can’t be cautious enough. Here are three simple tips to save yourself from getting your heart broken or your bank account wiped clean.

  • The age-old tale of “too good to be true.”

How many times have you heard your friends describe their new love interest as “just perfect,” only to get their call a few days later as you hear them sobbing and chugging ice cream? You may have warned your friend about the deception of “too good to be true,” which is often not true. So, why turn that warning sign off when it comes to your own situation? Because you feel that this is different? *snort-laughs* Sorry, dear one, we hope and wish it were true, but historically, chances are that it’s not.

If your online match is perfect on paper, then change the script. Video call them or ask to connect on Instagram and see how much of that façade matches the reality. If they keep dodging the video chat repeatedly, do yourself a favor and unmatch.

  • Chivalry is good. Clinginess is not.

Kindness and good manners make a person 10X more attractive. But there’s a fat line that keeps these qualities apart from clingy creepiness, especially when you’ve just started talking to someone. Keep a hold on your butterflies the next time someone gives you a lovely compliment for the fourth time that day. It’s nice if they’re vocal about their admiration for you, but no one can be that impressed with anyone in just a few days.

Some of the most common motivations for catfishing have been found to be revenge, loneliness, or boredom, as summed up in an infographic. If you can’t think of anyone who would be so angry with you that they’ll go to this length to get revenge, there are still the other two sadly vain reasons. So, beware of that one match you seem to be smitten with you right off the bat because it might just be a disaster waiting to happen.

  • There’s a thing called “too much, too soon.”

Not everybody goes onto these dating sites to find their happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean you should entertain every Tom, Harry, or Sally who seems minutely attractive. If, currently, you’re active on a dating app but not looking for anything serious, it’s good to be upfront about it, but with caution. We’d advise against declaring your Single and Available status in such a way that on your bio, that it attracts romance scammers rather than a fun companion you seek.

Victims of catfishing often fail to recognize the early warning signs, which could save them so much time and, in some cases, money. Take the stats of fake accounts on free dating sites. So if a potential match has no photos on their profile but is very eager to share some with you personally, it’s only a matter of time until they’ll ask for something in return. Use your judgment and report that account.

Caution against catfish is the best policy!

There is a scam waiting at every turn when it’s so easy to hide behind a screen with a fake name. How we save ourselves from it is the ball game. Use plenty of discretion, enter every conversation with a cautious eye, and don’t let any red flag fool you into classifying it as orange.

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