I Was Catfished and All I Got Was This Funny Story
One of the biggest barriers when it comes to dating apps is that you can't be 100 percent sure people are who they claim to be. Catfishing, or the deceptive act of creating a fictitious online persona, is more common than you may think.
There is a range of scenarios for what falls under the umbrella term "catfishing." There's predatory and sinister catfishing, where the fake identity is used to take advantage of someone else, financially or otherwise. There's also the more common, fairly benign catfishing, where someone uses very old pictures and fabricates details about themselves to improve their profile.
Here's the true story of how I was catfished, thankfully by a toothless one.
When I matched with, hmm, let's call him John, I was excited. He looked cute and the type I typically go for: tattooed, bearded, dog in the photos, general hipster, etc. I'm a little over 6 feet tall, and some guys feel emasculated and act strangely when their female date is significantly taller, but thankfully his height was listed at just under 6 feet. Perfect.
We struck up a conversation about musical interests, traded songs back and forth for a bit to flirt, and ultimately decided to meet up for a drink later that night at a very public and popular bar we both frequented.
I was more than happy to cut the online interaction short and have a conversation in real life.
Boy, was I wrong.
I arrived at the bar to find it teeming with people excited for a night playing trivia. Almost every picnic table was occupied by people who resembled my match and it quickly became a game of hipster Where's Waldo. I scanned the patio, didn't see anyone who looked like John, grabbed a drink and stood at the outskirts.
I heard my name and turned to the source of the sound. The person who called my name was propped up against the bar, maybe 5 foot 7 with shoes on, with patchy stubble across his face, looking like "John," if John from the pictures had been on a five-year bender.
At this moment, I could have pretended to not be me and left, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and not judge based on his appearance.
We'd hit it off online, right?
Side by side, I towered a good 6 inches over him. He insisted on buying me another drink, despite the nearly full margarita in my hand. It was apparent John was already deeply intoxicated—his glassy eyes, need to lean against the bar, giggles and word slurring told me just about everything I needed to know.
We found a picnic table to sit down at and I began to ask him about his life. It was then I noticed he didn't have any front teeth. Not at all to say that dental status is a requirement for an amazing partner, but again, one more thing that had managed not to show up in his dating profile pictures. I began to slip out of my body, as my spirit hovered above to watch the rest of the interaction unfold.
I heard myself ask him what had happened, to which he gave me a toothless grin and told me they had been knocked out in a fight and that he has fake ones, but he removes them when he drinks or else he'll "spit them at people."
Looking for a safer conversation topic, I spotted a tattoo of a dog on his arm and asked him if that was the dog in his profile picture. He told me it was, but the dog had died fighting for his gang. Uh oh.
Twenty awkward minutes passed as I texted my roommate an urgent SOS, looking for a way out as I downed a borderline exorbitant amount of alcohol. No response from my roommate: I would have to just have to negotiate this on my own.
My drinks were done, I politely told John it wasn't going to work out and stood to go. He reached for my hand for what I thought was a friendly parting-ways-shake. To my horror, he started to bring it toward his mouth, as if to seductively... gum my hand.
I whipped my hand back, laughing at my life and this man's audacity, and hightailed it out of there.
Are we all catfish online?
While my experience turned out to be a harmless and comical 30 minutes of my life, it made me consider how there is a very fine line between presenting the best version of ourselves and outright lying.
Next time you create a dating profile, make sure you're being authentic. It may seem OK online, but there's no hiding in real life.