Never heard of being catfished before? You're not the only one! Unless you're a fan of the MTV show or you've watched the movie (see below), you're unlikely to be aware that we're talking about a significant online relationship problem.
In this article I'll be covering what it means, and how to get over being catfished. I'll also give you my very best tips for online dating to prevent you from ever being caught out (again)!
Being 'catfished' means you are the victim of someone with a fake identity on Facebook who set out to trick you into a romantic relationship, i.e. a 'catfish'.
You may have heard of the movie 'Catfish' - a documentary film about a guy who developed a relationship with a woman, who subsequently turned out to have told many a lie. There's also the MTV reality show - 'Catfish: The TV Show', which details the stories of people who have fallen prey to online malingers with phony avatars.
Oh the pain, the pain - and the embarrassment of finding out that you've been singled out and taken for a ride. Your reactions will depend somewhat on how you found out - whether the truth slowly began to emerge or you found out suddenly.
Here's how you might feel:
If you already had your suspicions and you were being controlled by this catfish, you may also feel a sense of relief that you've finally discovered the truth.
Don't worry - these reactions are all very normal and you will get over them - I promise!
When you're completely smitten, you're in a trance state. You have a narrow focus of attention and your capacity to see things in context is diminished. All of your attention needs are being met. You therefore desperately want to believe what you're being told, and this can cause you to throw all caution to the wind.
You become mentally disconnected from your immediate surroundings and situation... and you become much more open to suggestion. It's easy for someone to control and direct you when you're in that state - it's a hypnotic state.
Now, that's not great when you're putting all your trust in someone you don't really know! You're in danger of missing any cues that someone is taking advantage of you.
We can all be taken in by spontaneously and perhaps naively trusting people (or not) or just by being totally seduced.
I personally like to give people the benefit of the doubt straight away. However, when you're investing in an online relationship you owe it to yourself to be on your guard from the beginning.
You may have expectations with the hope of a long-term commitment, but I really want you to value and take care of yourself. Don't set yourself up right from the start to have your heart broken - that is the only online dating tip that really matters.
Are you having doubts about your present online partner? Have you landed here to find out how to uncover the truth? Then have a look at the list below.
If you already know you've been catfished you won't need convincing that you need to take some simple steps to prevent it ever happening again. You want to be sure that you invest in a decent background check - or at the very least do some background checks yourself...
Whether you're starting or you're already well-involved in an online relationship, my advice is to carefully go through these questions.
How many of these background checks have you done so far to avoid you ever becoming the victim of a catfish?
Now take action! I'd hate to think that you've left yourself vulnerable.
You would have to feel terribly angry in your situation. This 'stranger' has let you down badly by pretending to be someone else.
And they have more victims:
Whilst this catfish may have led you to believe they were a real 'catch' - with great photos and stories to match - they are human too and therefore fallible. I'm not saying that's an excuse, but it is what it is.
Often the relationship the two of you established would actually have been very important to them, as they...
They often feel split - hating themselves for doing this to you, yet fearing they might lose you if they tell you the truth. It's very likely that once the relationship was established they found it almost impossible to extract themselves because of all that.
Privacy is a problem online and it's often all too easy to discover the contact details of someone. This may be particularly easy for those who routinely have access to databases with people's details, who may then resort to stalking.
Here's the minimum you need to do:
You'll never want to be catfished again. But do remember: you need to give yourself a chance to build up your self-esteem, confidence and trust in other people as well.
Be sure to also visit my advice pages on online relationships to help you get an even better insight into internet relationships.
"Catfish, the TV Show." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2014.