How to Avoid Being Catfished on Dating Sites
I know, I know… no one wants to think about this possibility but it’s something that most of those on dating sites think about. A few years ago, “@ThisCatholicGirl” managed to get into a virtual relationship with a young man and even fooled the entire Catholic Twitter-sphere into believing she was a young, 20-something single Catholic woman. It turns out she was in her 30s and married! How she managed to dupe the world was sadly impressive and it left many of those on Twitter (and social media in general) wary of those they didn’t know in real life.
That incident is still fresh in people’s minds – over 3 years after it happened – and it makes them nervous about online dating. So, how can you ensure that the same isn’t happening to you? Well, you can never be 100% unless you meet offline, of course.
And although the best and most reputable dating sites, like CatholicChemistry.com, implement multiple automated and manual systems to suss out bad apples, it’s always a possibility that some may occasionally get through. So, here are just a couple of tips to keep in mind.
Carefully read their profile and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If it sounds too good to be true or if there are things that aren’t making sense, do your research. Read their profiles carefully to make sure that what they’ve written and added seems to be in accordance with what they claim to believe. If there is something on their profile that interests you, ask them about it. If they try to change the topic or seem uneasy talking about something that they’ve added on their profile, don’t be afraid to dig in a little more. Sometimes people add certain hobbies or things they think will impress others but they really have no experience or knowledge about it. Honesty is always the best policy so if you have some of these things on your profile, it’s best that you remove them as well.
Do an image search.
Did you know you can search for images on Google to see if you get any other hits o other sites? True story. This one I learned from “professional catfishers.” If there are limited photos or they seem too professional, don’t be afraid to do a reverse search on them. If they come up on photo stocking websites or have other red flags (e.g. different names), you’ll know it’s probably not them. Also, if the pictures are too blurry or small to make out the person, that’s usually a yellow flag since posting photos and taking selfies is much easier these days than it was in the earlier days of online dating.
Ask to speak over the phone or, better, FaceTime or Skype.
So, you’ve met someone online and you both seem to hit it off! Great! If you’re both within driving distance, feel free to come up with a coffee date. If you live at a distance, you can ask to talk on the phone or do some video-chatting. While some may hesitate due to their introverted natures and/or general nervousness *points to self*, if they are really interested, they will work up the courage to do so. A little encouragement (“Don’t worry, I’m nervous, too”) goes a long way. If they keep putting it off or making excuses, that’s, at the very least, a yellow flag.
Online dating doesn’t have to be a drag nor do you need to bust out your inner detective for every single person you meet. If you do, however, meet someone and something seems to be off, don’t be afraid to explore it a little. Sometimes that “gut feeling” is really the Holy Spirit trying to keep you from getting hurt.
And, as always, remember that not everyone you meet on dating sites are like this. Most of the people I’ve personally met, especially on Catholic sites like Catholic Chemistry, are genuine and have no ulterior motives. They, like you, simply want to look for the right person with whom they can live out their vocation.