Online dating was supposed to make our love lives easier. Maybe it has, sort of—a full third of all marriages now begin with online dates, reports GQ. But taking the romance game online has also introduced a whole new dimension of anxiety into the search for love.
Which picture should you use? Does the puppy make you look desperate? Even if you get a date, is your new prospect just going to ghost you anyway?
Maybe worst of all, how can you be sure that the cute person with the same taste in obscure British folk is actually even a real person? Catfishing is a thing. It happens on dating sites, but it also creeps up wherever people interact online, from social media platforms to World of Warcraft.
Maybe you’ve never been catfished. That’s great. The people of Reddit, however, have been catfished. Either that or they’ve done the catfishing themselves. Either way, the stories that follow present a strange look into the world of online identity faking, from every perspective. We edited these posts for grammar and readability, FYI.
The internet is crammed full of complaints about being catfished. What does it feel like to be on the other side of the deception? Let’s find out.
1. “I was single and on Tinder. I saw my sister’s boyfriend on there and thought …”
“‘What the f*** is this?’”
“I made a fake profile to catfish him and talked to him for a bit. It was obviously him, and I got his number. [I] showed it to my sister, and she broke up with him.”
2. “I had suspicions that my ex was cheating on me and hooking up with women he met online, so a friend came up with the idea of catfishing him to see if he would cheat.”
“We all played [an online multiplayer role-playing game], so [we] made a new character, which we took turns playing when my then-boyfriend was online,”wrote a Reddit user with a now-deleted account. “This character joined the [boyfriend’s character’s] guild and [said she] happened to live about an hour away.”
“After a couple of months of him being sickeningly flirty and dirty with ‘Rayne,’ he suggested they meet up for a bit of fun. On the day of the meet-up, he told me he was going to town to buy my birthday present, so [he] may be gone for ages.”
“Obviously, ‘Rayne’ wasn’t there. Her car had broken down. While I was out a couple of days later, he messaged Rayne for a spot of cybering on good ol’ MSN. Even when she said her webcam wasn’t working properly, he insisted on still putting his cam on and proceeded to have a whale of a time.”
“My friend and I later confronted him, and I kicked his lying a** out.”
3. “In grade eight, my best friend, Sara, and I decided to make a fake MSN profile and add another friend of ours, Tim.”
“We called ourselves ‘Brett’ and chatted with Tim day after day, claiming to be Sara’s acquaintance from the neighboring town,” wrote milesfortuneteller.
“We got him to confess a ton of things, like his crush on a friend of ours and that he found my mom hot. After a month, we realized we went way too far and shut it down. He would talk to us about Brett, [saying] that he missed having a guy to chat with. We felt horrible and promised we’d never speak of it again.”
“Sara ended up having her wedding in this neighboring town about five years later, and Tim told me he couldn’t wait to finally meet Brett in person. I’m worried for the day karma comes for us.”
4. “[My best friend] had very complex systems and fake profiles [and] photos, and she even stole some of my blogs and posted them as her own.”
“She was significantly larger than the photos she posted (they were stolen from a classmate’s profile), and she would meet the guys after months of intimate phone [and] email conversations, then guilt-trip them into continuing t0 hang out with her,” wrote DebateExposesDoubt.
“She told them it was her personality that mattered, don’t be shallow, etc. It was some shady s***, obviously rooting from deep self-esteem issues. Luckily, she grew out of it.”
5. “My very good friend Ben’s dad has always had an online girlfriend called ‘Dr. Sam.’ She was the reason Ben’s parents divorced about 12 years ago.”
“I don’t know the story of early Dr. Sam, just that she claimed to be a doctor of some kind, and also [claimed to have] some kind of cancer,” wrote VenomousJackalope.”
Huh. That last detail kind of comes out of left field. Anyhoo…
“Steve (Ben’s dad) sent Dr. Sam all kinds of money—enough that his wife divorced him,” continued VenomousJackalope. “When those little hands-free phone headsets came out, he got one and was on the phone with her literally every second of the day.”
“She would make him talk to her cats on the phone, and he’d be places like the grocery store, meowing into a headset no one could see.”
“He tried to visit her many times, but every time he had his tickets squared away, her cancer would come back and she’d need emergency medical treatment, or (I s*** you not) her pet tiger would bite her and she’d go to the hospital.”
“Steve is a high-ranking Naval officer. When he had to go to Afghanistan a few years ago, he sent his cat to live with Dr. Sam. She had it put down immediately, because ‘he wasn’t happy.’”
“Eventually, Dr. Sam claimed to have died.”
“I wouldn’t believe a word of this if Ben’s mother hadn’t confirmed all of it.”
One question: How do you claim to have died? Doesn’t the act of claiming give away the act that you’re alive? When catfishing enters the picture, it seems, common sense exits left.
6. “A woman who claimed to be a customer where I worked sent me a friend request on [social media]. So, not wanting to be rude to a customer, I accepted.”
“She claimed to be a Harvard-educated doctor,” wrote Wright4000. “I never recalled seeing her at work. She would chat me up whenever I was [online]. At first it was mild, then more suggestive, and then totally [explicit].”
“At work, I started looking at every customer who came in, but never saw her. Then she would say she saw me at work, but I just didn’t see her. She had pictures on her profile, so I knew what she looked like. I asked my coworkers if they had heard of her, and they hadn’t.”
“One day I overheard one of our customers talking about travel. His friend asks him how many languages he speaks and he [says] five: English, French, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, and Arabic.”
“My mind flashes to the woman’s [social media] profile. She speaks five languages. Sure enough, I get home and check, and it’s the same five. The odds on two people in the same town speaking that combination of languages—[it’s] pretty much impossible.”
“I told a coworker, and she agreed that this customer (a male college professor) had to be our girl. I did a reverse image search and found [that] the girl whose pictures he was using is a local artist and a friend of his. I’ve been tempted to let her know, but I don’t know what I could possibly say.”
7. “[My] friend and I frequent dating sites. He was catfished once. Her name was Alexis McNally. She was the head RN at a hospital a half-hour away, making $150,000 a year, and was in love with my friend.”
“She was going to fly him to Vegas after three weeks of knowing him, and they were going to get married,” wrote the Reddit user. “He was happy as hell, and thinking of pretty much nothing but the money and the hot pictures she was sending him.”
“She said she bought him all this stuff, and [bought] his kids iPads and computers, and that she had a multimillion dollar house she was going to live in with him. He didn’t think anything was odd, but I did, so I did some research.”
“First I called the hospital, and they said they never heard of her. Then [I] looked up her phone number, [and] the area code was from Ohio. After a while, he wised up and started calling her out on stuff.”
“She ended up sending him a box filled with new American Eagle clothes for him, and that was pretty much the end of it.”
“TL;DR: Friend got catfished, ended up with a box of free clothes.”
Say it with us folks: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Although you might get some free clothes for your troubles.
8. “I just got catfished about 15 minutes ago, and I am honestly pretty upset about it.”
“I felt myself getting emotionally attached to this guy and I was hoping things could work out between us,” wrote upsetthrowout.
“We’ve been sending each other extremely long messages for the last three weeks, and after reading this thread earlier today, I got suspicious as to why he had not asked me out yet.”
“In the message I sent today, I told him I was probably going to delete my OkCupid account soon because I was done with it and because he hadn’t asked me out yet. He responded with this (warning: it’s long).”
Here’s his message in its entirety.
“Haha, well if you are wondering why ‘I’ haven’t asked you out, I am unfortunately going to have to add to your weird OK Cupid experience bank and possibly creeper vault right now, and may just have you deleting your profile in no time. It’s complicated.’”
“So, basically, I am not [username]. I am his friend. A few weeks ago (whenever I first messaged you), I was just messaging girls for him out of boredom.”
“He was happy to see if I could set him up with any dates, and I was having fun with it (because where I live, I can’t really use the site—my area is small and the girls there are uh…proper rednecks and single mothers).”
“I should’ve ‘asked you out’ for him a lot sooner, before we started getting into the long convos, but there was a weird dynamic going that quickly led to deep messages. You were also actually fun to talk to, so I ended up wanting to chat with you myself for too long, I guess.”
“He was always happy to meet you, but it got weird because we’d spoken so much, and you’d probably end up meeting him confused and wondering why his personality was so … different from online.’”
“‘It kinda got to a point where I didn’t want to cut off the convo, but at the same time, I didn’t wanna set you up for disappointment or something given the circumstances, so it was awkward.’”
“But yeah, to clear up any confusion, we both do the same thing actually, and most of the stuff I’ve told you applies to both of us, so there shouldn’t be too much ambiguity with the content of the messages. Just, uh, the personalities are a bit different.”
“So ultimately, I could actually set you guys up right now. He is happy to meet you/ask you out, but it would be like more of a blind date. You guys would have to laugh about me the whole time. Awkward, haha.”
“‘But yeah, if you were wondering why the f*** this dude hadn’t asked you out, at the very least I hope you now have some clarity. I know personally I f***ing hate ambiguity when dealing with girls, so hopefully this kills that for you.”
“‘And by the way, what’s wrong with you? If you hadn’t have written such enticing/intriguing messages to respond to, this wouldn’t have had to go down so weird. Geez.”
“Yeah, so, that’s it,” upsetthrowout continued.
“I’m extraordinarily upset. I feel completely violated and weirded out, and now I really want to get off this site.”
“Oh, and if either of you two who did this to me read this, both of you can go f*** yourself. What’s the fastest way I can get over this/forget it ever happened?”
This may not work for everybody, but we’ve found that reading long compilations of catfishing stories helps take our mind off our own troubles.
Either way, we hope this poor Reddit user moved on, forgot the catfisher forever, and found romance with a person who actually turned out to be exactly who they said.
Whether you’ve turned to catfishing for a bit of justice, or you’ve just been crushed by a devious catfisher in the online dating scene, there’s one lesson we all need to learn these days: Be careful out there on the internet, folks. Things are not always as they seem.