The advent of the hit MTV show Catfish in 2010 made the term “catfishing” widely known. The act is to lure someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. Social media platforms make connecting with others at great distances possible, and it can lead to many things: great friendship and a meet-cute love story, or scams, and fraud. Like the geographical proximity that aided your grandma and parents in building their relationships, exchanging emails, pictures, and messages help glue online loves together. If you’ve watched as many episodes of Catfish as I have, you’d consider yourself an expert or amateur detective. But there are signs that all of us can miss when love is in the air.
Here are 6 signs that your virtual love isn’t what they seem:
1. The relationship is fast-paced and they never want to show their face.
If your online love is pushing the relationship forward at a fast pace without having met you, you may be dealing with a catfish. Moreover, if your online love is adamant about keeping communication strictly to messaging or phone calls and avoid video chats where they can show their face, take that as a sign that they could be a catfish. You should suggest an interaction over Skype or Facetime within the first week of mutual interest. If they have recurring excuses that prevent them from meeting up in person, despite their excitement, they could be hiding their true identity.
2. They ask for money.
If someone who’s romancing you online asks you to send money to them or a “friend” right away, take that as a major red flag. Never give out large sums of money or your bank account information to someone you’ve never met in person and haven’t known for a long time. Loans are for family members and friends with whom you have a long-standing history.
3. They seem too good to be true and they have a small social media following.
As the old adage goes: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If their Instagram photos seem too “perfect,” and their interests are broad enough to match with anybody, they may be a catfish. While you’re always worthy of someone attractive, perfect photos can be stolen from someone else’s profile. Moreover, having only a few posts and followers could indicate that they’re a catfish. Tagged pictures with friends (who have real social followings as well) can verify that this person is real.
4. They have elaborate stories (or excuses) at the ready.
Whether trying to gain your pity or money, catfishers attempt to tug on your heartstrings by sharing stories that’ll quickly establish an emotional bond. If your online love shares stories of trauma or hardship too early, take that as a red flag. Moreover, if they always have a grand explanation for why they can’t Skype yet again or why they need an emergency money transfer, they may be a catfish. Beware of someone with this bad habit.
5. Their photos appear in a Google reverse image search.
Google reverse image search is an important tool used by the hosts of Catfish, Nev Schulman, and Kamie Crawford. You can use this tool to do your own sleuthing by dragging the photos they sent you and seeing if they appear anywhere else on the internet. If they do, you can find the actual source and learn if the person is in fact a catfish.
6. Your gut is telling you that something isn’t right.
If there’s any part of you that feels weird about this burgeoning relationship, trust it. Trusting your gut is useful in this situation. Your judgement is never wrong and shouldn’t be ignored.
We make online connections for both professional and personal purposes based on photos and messages. If you’re pursuing a personal, romantic relationship, it’s okay to progress slowly. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, in both love and life.
Featured image via Pixabay