If you have never heard of the term, “catfished” before, trust me, you are not alone. When I first heard of it, the only catfish I’d heard of is a type of fish with whiskers that resembles that of a cat. But we are in the internet age now and with it, many new terms that were not here decades ago. I mean the baby boomers surely weren’t taking selfies in their time but we are.
So, I guess catfish is not exactly a strange term considering the circumstances.
What does it mean to be catfished?
It means to be a victim of someone who has a fake identity on social media. Most times, it happens with online dating but sometimes, even just with online friendships.
A catfisher assumes a different identity than who they are in reality, including using a different person’s picture. So, it goes without saying that they feed their victim with false stories about who they are, what they do and where they live.
The reason why someone will decide to be a catfish varies really but most times, it is to swindle the other person and surprisingly, some do it out of boredom and there are those who actually do it out of insecurity.
But whatever the reason, it is more fun for the catfisher than the victim. If you have been catfished, you can probably relate to the pain that comes with being a victim, where you put all your hopes on this person, certain that they feel about you the same way you feel about them. The sad part is you will not only feel betrayed, but you are likely to also feel foolish that you fell for it, and nobody likes to feel foolish.
Yeah, I understand the pain and I think it is valid. But like all negative feelings, it is equally important to deal with it and move on; you cannot afford to keep dwelling on it and let it fester.
So, how do you deal with being catfished?
1. Don’t judge yourself too harshly
It is expected that we will feel shame that we were foolish enough to fall for what the catfisher cooked up.
However, I always tell people when they are betrayed by people they trusted that it is not their fault they were willing to open their heart and see the good in another human being. It is the other person’s loss for not living up to the high standard they were placed in your heart.
It is easier said than done but try to remember that you are not alone. Trust me, catfishing is more common than you think, so you are not the first victim neither will you likely be the last. You should be concentrating on healing and not beating yourself up for not seeing it sooner. Now that you have, take steps to deal with it and move on.
2. Vent to loved ones
The level of hurt will vary from person to person based on the relationship you had with the catfisher. If you are hurt, don’t try to suppress it, cry it out, vent and let it all out. You are likely to heal faster if you cry and let it out than if you refuse to deal with it and suppress what you are feeling.
We have already dealt with feeling ashamed – it is normal – but don’t let it stop you from feeling and letting out the hurt you feel. It is usually advisable, however, to vent to people who will not judge you. Stay away from people who will make you feel worse than you are already feeling. You need people who will encourage you and not those that will dwell on what you should have or shouldn’t have done.
3. Actively take steps to move on
After you have vented or cried it out, it is time to let it go. But it is not enough to WANT to let it go, you have to ACTIVELY take part in letting it go and moving on.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself, cut off all contacts, get rid of everything that reminds you of the person, spend time with loved ones and get busy so you can keep your mind occupied.
The main point is to have new experiences to erase the bad memories of the catfisher.
4. Learn from it
This will take some deep self-reflection and honesty if you do not want a repeat experience. You will need to ask yourself some pertinent questions and it is even advisable to write the answers down.
How did you meet the person?
What were the unrealistic expectations you had about the relationship?
What were some of the red flags you ignored?
What should you have done differently?
How do you prevent this from happening again?
Answering these questions will give you some perspectives and prevent you from falling victim again.
5. Don’t close yourself off
Many people see learning from something as meaning closing themselves off from everybody or everything that has to do with the experience they had. For instance, you find people who refuse to date anybody they met at the mall because the last person they met at the mall broke their heart. So, it is likely that you would want to say no to online dating.
While catfishing is difficult to carry out with someone you met physically, it is not totally impossible to fake identity with someone you met physically as well. After all, there is something called impersonation. What I am saying, in essence, is don’t be too rigid as to reject everybody that approaches you online; you just might find love there. Just be wiser and take lessons from what you did wrong last time.
6. Decide if you want to keep contact
This may sound ridiculous but there are actually those who catfish because they are insecure and they felt the need to impress you because they don’t think you will like the reality. Don’t be guilt-tripped into accepting them even after this; you should still do what is best for you.
However, in this case, you can still decide to keep contact, if it is right for you. For those who did it to hurt you, you should definitely cut all ties. Being a victim of catfishing is very painful but you can heal from it. It may take time but as far as you follow these tips, you will surely get there.
About the Writer
Olubunmi Mabel is a writer, psychology graduate, wife, and mom. She blogs at Olubunmimabel.com where she shares practical relationship and personal development tips to help women settle for what they deserve in life and relationships.
Olubunmi is gifted with exceptional wisdom which she uses to counsel people dealing with a tough life and love situations. She currently lives in Denmark with her husband and daughter.