4 Steps I’m Taking to Avoid a “Catfish” Situation
As a person who spends most of my life either on my computer or on my phone, I have never hesitated to online date. Sure, I’ve had creeps make me feel gross after they sent an inappropriate sexual “compliment” in a message… but that’s also happened to me on the subway. Just like I take the good with the bad when dating in the real world, I’ve moved on quickly after negative experiences online. But one thing has made me pause a little while longer. It’s an MTV reality show, it’s a popular hashtag on twitter…It’s “catfish.”
The term “catfish” was made popular by a 2010 documentary, (by the same name), and it refers to any time a person lies about who they really are—from their name to where they live to what they look like—in order to forge or maintain a romantic connection (or just to maliciously deceive someone). And as I said in my latest vlog, From Manti Te’o to Catfish: Men & Online Dating, I now know too many of “catfish” horror stories to ignore how often it happens. Still, I have no intention of excluding the internet as a possible place to meet “him.”
Here’s what I’ll be doing to make sure I never meet a catfish:
1. Updating my online profile: As of right now my online dating profile is a great look at who I am, what I like to do for fun, and what I’m looking for in a guy—but I will be adding what I’m NOT looking for too. I was recently telling a guy friend how it’s a huge turn-off when men bring up sex right away, and he asked me if those exact words were in my profile. They weren’t! The conversation made me realize an online profile is basically a living document—meant to change as you have experiences that change you. Also going in: “Loved the movie Catfish, but never want that to happen to me.”
2. Going beyond the profile picture: Too often we are distracted by how FINE someone looks in their profile pictures (pleading the fifth on whether this has ever happened to me), but when you see someone you want to meet, it is so important to read his or her entire profile. Not only does this force you to think about whether this is a person you’d want in your life, but if you like what you read, you can use it for conversation fodder when you’re messaging. Bring up the fact that he said he loves soccer, or that she said she enjoys cooking. Ask follow up questions, and see if the story holds up.
3. Checking out my “friends of friends”: What better way to make sure someone is real than to ask your old classmate, co-worker, or best friend who knows him or her personally? To me this a no-brainer! Meeting someone who knows one of your Facebook friends means you have access to a co-signer (a.k.a. someone who can vouch for him or her).
4. Being honest about my needs: I have always believed in meeting up with online dates right away, as in-person chemistry is very important to me. But to be honest, now-a-days I’m suffering from a little dating-fatigue and I’m finding it less of a priority in my busy life. For the first time, I can see how getting to know someone just through messages in the beginning could be very fulfilling. Sometimes all you’re looking for is an ear… someone to talk to. But once I’m ready for romance, at the very least, it’ll be time for a skype date.
What are your tips for avoiding catfish? Have you ever been lied to online? Would love to know how you handled it!
Who are you doing this holiday weekend? Log it…
Considering how many aphrodisiacs are in Thanksgiving food, we’re thinking folks will have some stories to tell over the long weekend. So if you rock a smart phone and plan to have a little down-time for the holiday, allow us to recommend our new app, BootyLog, for all your totally anonymous oversharing needs. BootyLog lets you log anything and everything related to sex, flirting, breakups, booty calls, crushes, hook ups, hot dates, who’s melting your popsicle, and times when you go solo.
This is what setting up a profile looks like (more or less):
Once you have a profile, you can start logging your sexy time with a few key deets (who, when, additional comments) and a descriptive word selected from a pretty rainbow:
You can also see what others are up to (anonymously, of course). TMI? You be the judge. Download in the App Store or Google Play. If somehow you still have doubts, how about watching a video with even more information about BootyLog? Log it!
Danny: Do you use contraception?
Mindy: [laughing] Yeah, condoms. But, ugh, am I right?
Danny: I don’t know. What does “ugh” mean?
Mindy: Well, condom etiquette, it’s hard for women, you know? ‘Cause you want to have condoms, but you can’t keep them by the bed, ‘cause then it seems like …
Aw, Mindy…watch this, okay? We say any man who’s not turned on by a woman who’s on top of her reproductive health probably shouldn’t be having sex…
Sex on TV: Friends, Lovers, and Fluffers
Truth be told, I learn more from TV and my Twitter timeline than I do when I’m online shopping in the back of a lecture hall. The newest example of this phenomenon came from New Girl, which in my completely biased opinion is currently the best show on television. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a quirky girl named Jess who moves into an apartment with three even quirkier guys—Nick, Winston, and Schmidt.
At the beginning of this season, Jess loses her job and falls into a bit of a rut. After pretending to be the online date of Sam, a smoking hot guy she meets at a bar, Jess turns to her roommates to help her navigate the realm of casual sex. After all, as Schmidt says, “Friends help friends have meaningless sex.” That’s the first lesson they teach you in kindergarten, right?
Jess realizes that even with the most casual of casual relationships, she requires conversation before copulation. She ends up going to dinner with Nick so she can get it on with Sam later. Because THAT makes sense.
A side note RE Nick’s advice to Jess to “poke a hole in that condom” when he finds out Sam is employed: Nick’s tongue-in-cheek (I hope) suggestion makes Schmidt’s plan to pretend to be a Romney seem reasonable by comparison. Putting aside the fact that joking about birth control sabotage is just never funny, what worse idea is there than being lax about protection with someone you can’t even have a conversation with? If I were Jess, I would use two forms of protection (just not two condoms). The safer the sex, the better!
Since Jess hangs out with Nick before having sex with Sam, Winston accuses Nick of being Jess’s fluffer. If you’re not sure what that is, no need to pull out your porn flashcards or sully your Google history—I’ll tell you. In the pornography industry, a “fluffer” is a person on set whose job it is to keep the actor sexually aroused in between scenes. (Yes, that’s a thing. And I bet if more people knew about it, the unemployment rate would fall.) By having dinner and conversation with Jess right before she has sex, Nick feels like Jess’s emotional fluffer.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the lines that separate friends, lovers, and fluffers. There’s nothing wrong with needing some kind of emotional connection before you have the ultimate physical connection. But perhaps, as Nick says, it’s best to have both of these with the same person. It might take a date; it might take a little bit of Marvin Gaye’s sexual healing, or some Robin Thicke. But if you still feel out of your comfort zone or just don’t feel ready to get intimate, your body may be trying to tell you to find another partner.
Everyone’s got that ambiguously labeled playlist in their iTunes filled with the kind of slow jams you’d never listen to in public. “Nick’s Sexy Mix,” which is meant to serve as a fluffer for Jess, seems to do the trick. The real issue: if your platonic “friend” gives you a mix to play while engaging in sexy-time with another guy, are you still just friends? It’s one of the more pressing questions that plague my generation.
Bisi Orisamolu is an intern for the entertainment media department of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. She’s a Georgetown University undergrad and a social justice advocate who is passionate about a million things. She loves chocolate covered pretzels, discovering good books, and aimless wandering. Stay tuned for the resurrection of her personal tumblr boris321.tumblr.com. In the meantime you can find her on twitter @Bisi_O.