What To Do When You're Catfished On Tinder
The Debrief: What to do if your Tinder date looks nothing like their profile and it’s too late to run for the hills faster than Maria
Since joining Tinder I’ve discovered that among the plenty of fish online, quite a few are of the catfish variety. But what is the best way to handle being cat-fished? Drawing on my own and a few other experiences I discovered the various coping tactics out there, along with the advice of two dating experts to find out the best way to handle being cat-fished on Tinder.
Tactic 1: Keep Calm and Drink Up
My own catfish presented himself in the form of a rather nice chap who invited me to his house party after we’d been messaging for a few weeks. Armed with my housemate and a bag of booze we arrived full of spiced rum and naïve optimism. What greeted us was a gathering of no more than 10 rather sober and socially awkward males playing magic card tricks – about half of the group fled upon our arrival.
By that point I decided to ask the guy who had invited us in if he knew the whereabouts of my Tinder fella – only to discover he was actually the stranger standing in front of me. It was then my flatmate and I realised I was the victim of a minor form of a cat-fishing and attempted to make our hasty goodbyes. Unfortunately, my date decided to point out that this was quite rude and so instead we spent the night downing gin as he yelled at us in a fake Russian accent.
The date ended with my flatmate and I waking up at 8am in a McDonalds to a string of texts and Facebook friend requests from my catfish and his magical mates. As we looked back at his profile over our McMuffin breakfast we realised that actually the catfish signs were there – he only had two photos and was hazy in his replies when asked questions about himself.
The Do’s and Don’ts
Lucy Jones works for the dating website toyboywarehouse and said: 'It’s a known problem when online dating that someone you meet from a dating site or app might not be exactly who they say there are. This ranges from photos taken from a 'good angle' to downloaded photos of someone else entirely.' To avoid being cat-fished online she advises: 'Do consider having a quick Skype of FaceTime before you arrange to meet people in person!'
I also spoke to Danielle Waller who is a dating and relationship expert at SpeedDater and has introduced over 40,000 couples during her nine years working within the industry. She recommended: 'Don’t be afraid to indulge in a bit of cyber stalking – Facebook accounts with a low number of friends, few tags and professional photos scream catfish.'
As well as advising you to cross-check their profile picture in Google’s image search function. Does it appear on multiple accounts? Hello catfish.
Tactic 2: Make Your Excuses And Leave
Imagine going on a date and finding out that not only does the guy not look much like his photos, but has also lined up a cheeky threesome in the hopes you’ll be on board. That’s exactly what happened to Alice* when she went on a Tinder date during her year abroad in France.
'When we met I realised he’d obviously used a lot of filtered Instagram pictures of himself, but figured I’d stay for a drink as he wasn’t wildly unattractive,' she explained. 'He told me he had a table waiting for us at the club around the corner, but when we arrived I noticed his friend was there and that he had ordered three drinks.'
'At first I put this down to a cultural difference, but as the date went on they both became pretty affectionate. I realised something was fishy when my date mentioned the three of us heading back to his hotel room for the rest of the night before suggesting breakfast plans for the following morning,' said Alice.
'I downed my drink and excused myself to go to the bathroom where I called my flatmates. They told me this wasn’t standard French behaviour and to get the hell out of there,' she added. 'When I returned I told them I had an essay I’d forgotten about and needed to go the library right away.'
The Do’s and Don’ts
'Don’t feel obliged to continue your date if at any point you feel uncomfortable or unsafe,' says Lucy. 'Always trust your instincts when meeting new people.' She also adds that it's important to learn from this mistake, and then protect yourself from it happening again - like, for example, reading the remainder of this article. And always making sure a) your phone is fully charged when going on a date and b) you have mates you can call on if stuff gets threesome-y weird. Or just weird.
Tactic 3: Confront Your Catfish
When Cat agreed to meet up with the tall, dark and tattooed lothario she’d swiped right for on Tinder she instead found herself on a date with his brother. 'It turned out he had been using his brother’s photos as a lure to get more matches,' she explained. 'He shared similar features but was much shorter, had no tattoos and was skinny.'
'I was so shocked I didn’t even have time be angry and I was confused because we had a lot in common. In the end I agreed to go on the date to see where it could go.' We had a drink and lunch but I felt manipulated and tricked and couldn’t let the issue go. I explained this to him mid-way through the lunch and left, as I couldn’t handle the bizarreness of the situation anymore.'
Looking back on her catfish experience, Cat has said that in future she wouldn’t stay out of politeness: 'Humouring people who do things like cat-fishing probably won’t get them to stop.'
The Do’s and Don’ts
'When it comes to out and out catfishes, some people lie because they’re unhappy or insecure and some people lie because they’re dangerous,' explains Lucy. Danielle agrees, adding: 'The catfish likely already has low self-esteem, so screaming in their lying face may make you feel better but be the bigger person. Hold you head high and walk away.'
'Don’t freak out at the first sign of deception. Ask yourself if you are still attracted to them? Or was their lie just too big to handle?' Sure they may have lied to you, but you and I both know you've also chosen your most flattering pictures. If you still feel a spark then give them a chance - if not toss them back into that sea and reel out the next one.
'Do hear the catfish out to get some closure for your own benefit.' Said Danielle, who also explains that a bad catfish experience be treated like a normal breakup. 'Your feelings were real even if the person was fake.'
'Don’t instantly confront a catfish about being someone else, especially if you think they might be dangerous.' Lucy warns those of us unlikely enough to encounter someone who's just been straight up cat-fishing.
'Do carefully broach the subject by asking ‘So where was your profile picture taken?’ to see if they have an explanation.' Suggests Lucy, although an outdated or generously edited photo probably isn't going to swing it as much of an excuse.
'Do tread carefully around this person’s issues. There may be a lot more to their situation than you realise and cat-fishing you could be their escape from something more serious.' Lucy warns, so if you guy does seem legitimately nice or has already confided in you about personal problems then maybe give the guy the benefit of the doubt?
Admittedly, being cat-fished does suck and chances are you'll probably end up back at home binging on Netflix and Ben and Jerry (at least they're reliable) whilst moaning about how you may as well become a nun. Take some comfort in the fact that "you are not the one in the wrong and are certainly not alone in this happening," says Danielle. Don't go deleting your Tinder account just yet either! "Remember there was bad dates before the Internet was around too," Lucy reminds us. There are still plenty more fish in that tainted Tinder Sea, and if you really have been put off online dating then why not go to a singles event and try meeting someone offline?
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