Unless you’ve been living under a rock or you’re the kind of hipster who doesn’t own a TV (why?) by now, you’ve probably seen a couple episodes of MTV’s addicting reality show, Catfish. The term “catfish” refers to someone who pretends to be someone else online by creating fake social media profiles, particularly to pursue deceptive romances.
Every episode of Catfish starts off the same way: We meet a hopeless romantic who believes they’ve found their soulmate online. Only problem is, they’ve never actually met.
It’s like a really bad car crash. We don’t want to stare, but we just can’t look away!
But since meeting potential love interests and friends online has quickly become the new normal (we do everything else on our phones, why not use it to find love and friendship too?), it’s important to be extra careful when connecting with new people. While the idea of your latest Tinder match being “the one” seems perfect, we’d hate for your online crush to turn into a catfish. So, we’re hoping these 9 signs will provide some guidance and help you spot the red flags the next time you swipe right.
1Seems like they came out of nowhere
How did they contact you? If they randomly messaged you outside of your regular dating sites/apps, you have no mutual friends or followers, and you no idea who they are, chances are you shouldn’t be talking to them. As romantic as the: “I-just-came-across-your-profile-and-had-to-reach-out” line sounds, it probably won’t be worth your time in the long run.
2Their social media presence is basically non-existent
Let’s break this one down: Your online crush only has one social media account, and on that account they have fewer than 50 friends, no tagged photos with friends/family members, and they’re not regularly updating their feeds with their #OOTD or #TBT photos, then you may have hooked yourself a catfish.
3They seem too good to be true
If you’ve seen an episode or two of Catfish, you’ll realize that most of the stories have one thing in common: The person looks way too good to be true. Now, we’re not saying the “super attractive” among us aren’t online dating too, but we are saying you should probably run a quick Google Image search just to make sure the picture isn’t linked to anyone else, just to be safe. Especially if the only pictures you’ve seen all look like they’ve been taken by a professional photographer. (Seriously, where the regular selfies at?)
4Your relationship is progressing far too quickly
They’ve got you swooning with every word because they seem to be saying all the right things, you start feeling this amazing, totally unexplainable connection, and the next thing you know they’ve dropped the L-bomb. While love often happens when we least expect it, the odds of someone you’ve never met truly loving you after a week of texting is very unlikely. You know this isn’t real, darling. Walk away, walk away now.
5But they won’t talk to you on the phone
Often, a catfish might be someone pretending to be a member of the opposite sex. So, if you’ve been talking to your online crush for a while, and they claim they love you but won’t get on the phone with you, they might just be a guy pretending to be a girl or a girl pretending to be a guy. We know phone anxiety is a very real thing. It affects the best of us, but in this case, we’re calling “catfish”.
6Or use one of the many options available for video chat
If they won’t get on the phone then they definitely won’t be getting on video chat. But what if you’ve already been having great phone conversations and you’re looking for a little more intimacy in your online relationship? The next step would be FaceTime, Skype, or one of the many other options available, but your beau refuses. According to Nev and Max, that’s the biggest sign of a catfish. Or, you know, they’re just not that into you. Either way, let it go.
7Probably too busy with their “amazing job” and all the “traveling” they do
The sad truth is: Someone who spends their days pretending to be other people online are often dissatisfied with their own lives or perhaps insecure. Which means, the lives they’ll create through these catfish profiles are usually a little over the top. For example, your online crush has a job that has them traveling all the time but has yet to commit to meeting you? Sounds a little (cat) fishy to us.
8They’ve asked you to send them money
Girl, no. Just don’t do it! There is absolutely no reason you should be sending money to someone you’ve never met IRL, you’ve never spoken to on the phone, you’ve never seen on video chat.
9Your intuition AND your friends are telling you something isn’t right
On the TV show, people reach out to Nev and Max because deep down they know something isn’t right. Sometimes it takes them a while to admit it but once they do, they’re usually right. If you have a strong gut feeling that your online crush isn’t being totally honest, trust it. Your intuition is almost always right.
And your friends are your friends for a reason. They keep you grounded, they’re your shoulder to cry on, and they’ll always tell you the hard truth (preferably gently) you need to hear. Listen.