The world of online dating offers many wonderful opportunities to meet compatible people. But it also makes you vulnerable to catfishing. The term refers to individuals who create elaborate false identities and attract unsuspecting victims to fraudulent online relationships. And yes, being catfished can really hamper one’s emotional health.
It is heartbreaking and alarming to think that the wonderful guy or girl you are talking to may be nothing more than a mirage projected by someone. Here’s what you need to know about how to averting this!
Some catfishers are using their false online identity to do something akin to living out their dream lives. As a result, it’s good to look out for ridiculous life stories that don’t seem realistic. You should accept the fact that not everyone you meet online is who they claim to be. Are you talking to a supermodel, a powerful government member, or an individual with a 100 page CV of personal tragedies? If so, strongly consider the possibility that you are being duped.
Be very wary if you notice that someone is unwilling to provide more than just a few photos of themselves or is constantly evading any attempt to meet in person. Even if you are not being catfished, someone who tries to avoid a personal meeting will almost definitely have something else to hide (often a spouse). Be mindful, choose your mental and emotional health and set clear boundaries.
Listen to your intuition. Always ask for their full name, do an internet search to see if this person’s alleged identity seems legitimate. For example, you should find a departmental profile of someone who claims to be a college professor. It’s also worth browsing through the images that come up when you enter the person’s name and location. While nothing is foolproof, it is particularly useful if your contact will happily connect with you using Instagram or another social networking site where you can see them regularly interact with a large number of people who appear to verify their story. Keep a check on someone’s credentials.
Given the growing awareness of catfishing, you should be able to ask people on online dating sites to prove their identity without hurting their feelings. You can explain that you have heard bizarre stories and are very cautious about meeting people without objective proof of honesty. For example, it might be a good idea to ask the person to send you a picture of them holding a piece of paper indicating their name and the current date. If you don’t want to be explicit about your testing needs, ask for a video session with audio and video. While this can only verify their true appearance, it does help weed out some catfish. If they are unwilling to give you proof, seriously reconsider your association.
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Genuine people are willing to have conversations without any ulterior motive. If you want to make sure that the person you are talking to is the person you are talking to, you need to see it via multiple virtual dates. After talking to someone for a while, the video chat is normal and expected. Again, if someone actively prevents you from seeing him, they are not what they say they are. Virtual dating has become acceptable since the global pandemic, so make use of this opportunity to get to know your romantic interest better.
As with any relationship, there should be some progression. This means you should be talking on the phone, seeing each other, making plans to go on real-life dates. Never be in situations where you have been talking to someone for years and years and have never even seen their face. After about three months (max) of talking to someone, you have not seen their face in person or on a video chat date, then just let it go. Something is wrong here!
Catfishers are very clever, they can be experts in love bombing. Some catfishers will request your personal information immediately. Avoid disclosing a lot of deeply personal information that a particularly pernicious catfish could use against you or even use for identity theft. Whenever possible, try to reserve judgment until you know the individual personally and better assess their authenticity. This is a tough one but an important one, your emotions are sacred, be sure to honour them. If a situation feels off or threatening do not hesitate to disclose to a confidant or seek professional help.
In conclusion, you need to unlearn everything you think you know about cyberdating and accept the fact that there are catfishers on the internet. It is important to remain vigilant and wary to ensure that you are not catfished in the world of dating.