How to spot a catfish: 8 top tips to avoid catfishing

by Eharmony Editorial Team - December 3, 2018

Do you suspect that someone you’re talking to isn't exactly who they say they are? Here’s how to know if you've been caught by a catfish online.

So, you’ve been dating online for a while and now you think you’ve finally found ‘the one’. They’re perfect. But they don’t have that many pictures. And they’re a bit vague when it comes to the details.  Come to think of it, they don’t seem that keen to meet up. Maybe they’re not so perfect after all. In fact, you may well have been caught by a catfish. Here are eight ways to tell if the person you’ve been talking to online is catfishing you:

Catfishes disappear…a lot

It’s fine not to be in constant contact, but if the object of your affection regularly disappears for days – even weeks – at a time, then they may well be a catfish. Everyone gets busy, but if they’re pulling regular vanishing acts then they probably have something else going on. Maybe they’re already involved in another relationship, or maybe they’re still going back and forth with their ex. Either way, if you’re not getting their full attention, then they might be catfishing you.

Their social media isn’t very social

Even the most reluctant Facebook user typically still gets tagged in their friends’ photos, has people share funny gifs to their wall and receives birthday messages, so, if their page looks suspiciously sparse then you might want to ask some questions. The number of friends they have can also be a big give-away; anything less than 100 is worth investigating further, and if you see the same people posting over and over again then it may be worth checking out their profiles too, just in case!

Catfishes won’t Skype, Facetime, or even Snapchat…

Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to have a face-to-face conversation with someone, even if you’re miles apart. If the person you’re talking to has a laptop or a smartphone, then it’s very likely that they’ll have easy access to some kind of video chat. Of course, not everyone is tech-savvy so you might want to cut them some slack, but if they’re point-blank refusing to try while simultaneously posting a series of selfies on Instagram, then you could have a catfish on your hands.

They’re an expert storyteller

Everyone loves a good storyteller – after all, there’s nothing better than finding yourself on a first date with someone who can tell a good tale. But when the stories start getting more outlandish, and their excuses even wilder, it’s time to ask yourself whether they’re telling you the whole truth. Someone always being ready with a convenient story is a tell-tale sign of catfishing. Look out for those stories that don’t completely add up – it’s been their Grandma’s birthday three times this year, for example – and stay on your guard.

Catfishes get too serious, too soon

One of the most seductive aspects of catfishing is that things typically get serious fast. Constant messaging can create a false sense of intimacy that puts everything on fast-forward. Suddenly the catfish is the last person you speak to at night, and you’re soon saying ‘I love you’ – and meaning it – to someone you’ve never met. There’s nothing wrong with falling for someone but if they’re whispering sweet nothings and still aren’t keen to meet up then how strong can those feelings really be?

They sound too good to be true

We’re all looking for someone special but if your new online crush seems to be the man or woman of your dreams with no flaws at all, then beware. No-one is truly perfect. And if you’ve fallen for someone with model-like pictures, an amazing job and a lifestyle to rival Beyoncé, well, there’s probably a catch. The best relationships are about accepting each other’s flaws and growing together. Someone who never admits to being  less than perfect may well have something to hide.

Catfishes ask you for money

If someone you’ve only ever spoken to online – or on the phone – asks you for money, alarm bells should sound immediately. It might sound like a small request at first; a loan to cover their phone bill or buy that train ticket so they can finally come and see you but, typically, once a catfish knows that you’re willing to shell out once the amount will keep rising. Never send money to someone you’ve never met  and, if they’re genuine, then they’ll understand.

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They just give you that feeling

When online dating, always trust your gut. If you feel deep down that there’s something off, chances are your instinct will be correct. When you meet someone online and feel the butterflies, it’s natural to want to meet  in person or, at the very least, share a video call. If someone is repeatedly giving out signals that you shouldn’t trust them, they could be catfishing you. Cut your losses and throw that catfish right back.

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