In the age of digital dating, catfishing – guys using fake profiles to assume false identities – is all too common. But how can you avoid it? And what happens if you end up on a date with a pathological liar – or worse?  We give some tips on how to spot a catfish online.

How to spot a catfish No1: he’s too perfect

A word to the wise: anyone who screams about being a model of any description on a dating profile should be treated with extreme caution. Do those abs look too good to be true? And as for that chopper that could put Falcon’s finest to shame? Even in the age of digital airbrushing, no one is that god-like.  

How to spot a catfish No 2: He’s too keen

Ok, naturally you’re infinitely desirable, and every man should be clambering to get a feel – but anyone who is this obsessive about you is either a bunny boiler or a complete fake. Endless compliments are wonderful, to begin with, but after a while, your inner alarm bells should start ringing.

man holding a bunch of roses
If he's too keen, keep him in check. 

How to spot a catfish No 3: He’s full of excuses

He’s forever travelling. He has a sick dog. He’s too busy looking after his mother. He’s been in an accident. He’s endured endless trials and tribulations. You get the picture. The catfishing queen will almost always have an excuse why you can’t meet. 

But, amazingly, you do pin him down to a date. And even more miraculously, when he turns up, he looks exactly like his pictures. Yes, he truly is that gorgeous! But this doesn’t mean you’re out of the danger zone.  Far from it. Just think of the most handsome serial killer going, Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace. What then are the catfishing warning signs?

Catfishing sign  1: Delusions

From the moment you sit down for your meal, he never shuts up. And everything is about him. The stories become more and more lurid and improbable: he counts royalty among his friends, he’s cut real estate deals with Donald Trump (run now!), he’s a former top underwear model, he’s indulged in week-long orgies in penthouse suits of £10,000 a night hotels. At best he has an exceptionally active fantasy life; at worst, his delusions of grandeur are bordering on psychopathy. 

Catfishing sign 2: Dissing

This catfishing sign is connected to the above and frequently happens simultaneously. Your date takes every conceivable opportunity to diss and belittle you. None of your life experiences or successes can live up to the outsized achievements of this catfishing queen. His complete lack of sensitivity indicates that you’re lunching with a sociopath. Chuck the Cosmo in his smug face and turn on your heels. 

Catfishing sign 3: Hard-luck stories

The opposite to delusions of grandeur – but just as ominous. This guy’s bad luck is endless. He regales you with countless tales of doom, disaster and degradation. His parents died suddenly; he was then placed in a home where he became the finger buffet for visiting priests. He’s been homeless at least ten times. And yes, inevitably, then comes the all-too-familiar and never subtle catfishing request for money. Get up and leave at once – and leave him to pay the tab.

Catfishing sign No 4: Significant others

The catfishing pros will almost always have a significant other in the background. Chances are he’s married (to either man or woman or indeed both). Choose your questions carefully when asking about his background – and watch out for those tell-tale responses which indicate he is a compulsive liar.

Catfishing sign No 5: Far too frisky

He starts with the touching: the hands across the table, the stroking (yuk!), then come the games of footsie. But worse follows: the guy is practically under the table in between courses, unzipping you and jumping on your bratwurst.  Anyone who is this keen is either deranged or has ulterior motives – both sure signs that you’re being catfished. 


Have you been catfished and survived to tell the tale? Share your tips on how to spot a catfish with us in the comments below or in the forum.  

Share your catfishing experiences in the forum



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