Fishing for Love

These days, dating can look a lot more like flirty text exchanges, rather than sharing a bite to eat at the new gastropub. Approaching your crush might be less intimidating than face-to-face interaction, but that two-way anonymity can also be dangerous and deceiving.

The term “catfish” is used to describe someone being fraudulent about their identity online. Catfishing can lead to heartbreak and anger, but could also put your safety in danger. Here’s how to avoid them:

1 Sleuthing: If you meet them online, take note of their social media. How many pictures are they posting? How many friends do they have? Who’s commenting on their social media? What do their conversations look like?

Some dead giveaways are not wanting to talk on the phone and video chat; either of these could give away their identity.

2 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Reverse search their picture using Google image search. Search their name everywhere.

3 Once upon a time: Everyone loves a good and catfishes are no exception. Be wary of outlandish sob stories or anything that sounds overly embellished or dramatic. It’s human nature to empathize, but sometimes catfishes will make up these stories when they fear losing you.

4 Face it: To not completely waste your time trying to meet Mr. or Ms. Right, weed out the imposters early on: Ask for a face-to-face meeting. Most catfishes will try and make excuses. A huge red flag is if they live within driving distance of you.

5 It’s elementary: Sometimes these red flags are just instances of coincidence. But if they keep adding up, err on the side of caution.

6 Be skeptical: Don’t meet up with this person for the first time in a private setting – definitely not your own home. A good venue is well-populated, like a coffee shop. Ask a friend to stake out your potential beau meeting if you’re still feeling uneasy.

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