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with Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT

Catfishing:12 Dangers

business man thief going phishing on the internet

Catfishing has become a growing phenomenon among internet daters in search of finding love online. With increasing work demands opportunities to meet and establish relationships can be a difficult balancing act for a lot of singles. Traditional dating approaches to meeting and dating has become all but obsolete as new dating approaches emerge, allowing people to meet without leaving the comfort of their home. However, with new opportunities and access to meeting, the likelihood of “catfishing,” also increases. Catfishing is a term used for people that create false identities for social media platforms or online dating profiles. This is usually done to deceptively pursue online romances for some personal gain or other interest at the expense of the person they are catfishing. Persons engaging in catfishing usually do so as a way to lure a romantic partner, bully another person, obtain monies/gifts, taunt, embarrass, seek revenge for being jilted/getting even, improve self-esteem, etc.  

Unfortunately, with the increase in both options and popularity of online dating and its use, there has also been an increase in mistreatment of online dating and its users. There is no denying that online dating has the potential to really help people connect, reconnect, and make connections with individuals both locally and afar. However, like most things in life, there will be some people that will use things as intended, while other will abuse it. In general, persons that use online approaches to dating and relationships do so with good and honest intentions, they want to casually date or hope to meet a life partner.  

The emergence and rate of occurrence of catfishing is fast becoming a real problem within the online dating community. There is now more suspicion and fear surrounding are we really “chatting with the person identified in the profile”, “does he or she really exist”, “are the qualities or characteristics listed on the profile accurate”, etc. Catfishing can create feelings of uncertainty, self-doubt, frustration, anxiety, depression, etc.

Dangers of Catfishing Include- Person Catfished

·         Creating self-doubt

·         Diminished self-esteem

·         Persons “catfished” become emotionally invested in the other person and the “relationship” while the “catfisher” does not

·         Falling in love with someone that does not exist

·         Changing one’s life goals or making major life decisions based upon a lie

·         Embarrassment

·         Emotional devastation

·         Monetary loss (some catfishers will solicit money, gifts, or a combination of both from those they catfish)

·         Question future decision making capabilities

·         Experience a loss of time, energy, and resources into a relationship or person that does not exit

·         Trust Issues

Reasons Why People Engage in Catfishing Behaviors

·         Low Self-Esteem

·         Revenge for being jilted or hurt in the past

·         Creating a life or persona unlike their own

·         Solicit money or gifts from another person

·         Attention seeking

·         Sexual-identity anxiety

·         Loneliness

·         Boredom/ bring excitement into their lives

·         Lack of confidence

·         Overweight

·         Insecure

·         Difficulty being honest

While the process of online dating has made it easier to meet others and find happiness, it has also brought with it unintended negative aspects, such as, false representation, lack of honesty and authenticity, unsavory motives, self-doubt, etc. Catfishing is certainly not a victimless act, it has the capacity to create emotional harm, and distress to persons that feel they have been deceived, used, and humiliated. The person that is “catfished” is usually emotionally invested in the person that they believe they are talking to, leading to an imbalance in an already non-existent relationship. It can be emotionally devastating for the victim when they find out that the person they think they have fallen in love with does not exist or is not who they say they are. The deception involved in catfishing can lead to both personal and public embarrassment, prompting the personal to become overly critical of others, suffer from self-esteem issues, trust issues, or self-isolate. Catfishing can cause further damage to an already fragile sense of self, i.e., persons that already suffer from self-esteem issues can experience additional stress by being deceived. The consequences of the emotional and psychological damage caused by catfishing can be quite severe, leading to depression or even suicide.

Helpful Tips to Avoid Being Catfished

·         They won’t Skype or use a webcam to talk with you, they often text, prefer telephone contact or they repeatedly cancel in-person meetings at the last minute.

·         They profess their love for you really quickly

·         They have a profile that looks new or incomplete, with a lot of pertinent information missing

·         They ask you to send them money or buy them gifts

·         He or she seems “too good to be true.”

·         The profile picture appears to be a stock image, grainy, or old

·         They give you confusing or conflicting information

Catfishing:12 Dangers

Bates-Duford, Ph.D., LMFT

My name is Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford PhD, LMFT, CRS, CMFSW, BCPC I have a PhD in forensic Psychology specializing in familial dysfunctions and traumatic experience. I work with individuals and families struggling with familial dysfunctions, trauma, rape, and incest. I also have a masters in Marriage, Couples, & Family therapy. I am a certified relationship specialist with American Psychotherapy Association (#15221). I have more than 15 years in the field of mental health, relationships, and behavioral sciences.

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APA Reference
Bates-Duford, T. (2016). Catfishing:12 Dangers. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Dec 2016
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