Are You “Kittenfishing” Your Dates?
It’s the creepy new dating trend we’ve all missed…
Online dating profiles are the place to make yourself seem as gorgeous/hot/fun/carefree as possible. But push it too far, and you could be guilty of ‘kittenfishing’.
You’re not alone if you’ve never heard of the adorably named dating trend, but you are very likely to have been partaking in it, without even realizing.
Most of us have heard of ‘catfishing’ – the act of luring someone into a date or relationship by using a fake online persona – and while kittenfishing isn’t quite as extreme, it can be thought of as the slightly ‘softer’ version of this manipulative dating tactic.
Ever turned up to a date to find your companion looks about 20 pounds heavier than their profile pic? Or 10 years older? Or kind of just…different?
You’ve been kittenfished.
The term refers to an online dating profile that’s been created to present a much more flattering picture of the person than is strictly accurate; think heavily filtered photos or pictures from years ago, accompanied by a well-written profile that’s actually been crafted by a wordsmith friend.
Ever bumped up your height on your profile? Said you’re super into the gym when what you mean is you’re super into Jim, your local pizza guy? You’re inching dangerously close to Kitten Town.
I was a victim of this expectations vs reality phenomenon for the first time about three months ago.
My date had given me the heads up he’d be wearing a green button-up shirt to meet me. When I arrived at the restaurant, I saw only one person with a green shirt, and…well, it couldn’t be him…could it?! He looked MUCH older than the person I’d been talking to. And had a beard. And was a lot more…shall we say, rounded.
Figuring my date had gone to the bathroom, I waited by the entrance…until Green Shirt looked up and waved at me.
Naturally, I did the classic look-behind-me-to-check-he-wasn’t-waving-at-someone-else move before realizing I’d been had. Well, shit, I thought, now WTF do I do? Do I go sit down? Give him the benefit of the doubt? Glance around as if looking for a friend, theatrically ‘discover’ that they’re ‘standing outside’, leave to go ‘greet’ them and RUN?
After some frenetic soul-searching, I decided to do the polite thing (screw you, conscience!) and introduced myself. I spent most of the meal debating whether or not I should mention anything; after all, this guy wasn’t getting a second date, so did it matter? But then I thought, maybe he doesn’t realize he’s done anything deceptive? However…maybe I would be doing some great public service for which he would be eternally grateful? Or, then again, maybe I’d just come off looking like a massive bitch.
In the end, I plucked up some courage (and took a large swig of my wine for some Dutch courage) and spoke up.
“Um, so, you look…er…a bit different to your photos,” I hedged.
“They were taken a few years ago; but I’m the same person!”
Which I guess would be okay, if he hadn’t misrepresented himself on an app that ENCOURAGES YOU TO JUDGE PEOPLE ON PHYSICAL APPEARANCE. Or if he hadn’t almost totally grayed since then.
“Um, how many years ago?” I pressed on, gingerly.
“Well, my main one was from my 30th,” he explained.
“But it’s the best photo of me, I reckon.”
His profile had said he was 38, so this guy was trading on his almost decade-old looks. I pointed that out and he got very shirty, telling me I shouldn’t judge a book on its cover. Okay buddy, well, maybe don’t make your cover shot look like a Harlequin romance when it’s really an urban cautionary tale.
So how can you avoid committing this pre-relationship sin yourself, then?
Get by with a little help from your friends. Before I set my Tinder profile live, I ran it by several of my closest friends to make sure I was being realistic about myself. My seven photos were whittled down to five once my besties informed me (kindly) that two of them didn’t look like me in real life. I later realized I’d filtered the crap out of one of them and totally forgotten I didn’t actually look like a bronzed beach goddess in real life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a goddamn goddess at heart. Just a much, much paler one.
Comment: Have you ever been a victim of kittenfishing? What did you do?
Elizabeth is a journalist and editor who’s great at providing relationship advice… for everyone but herself. She’s happy to share her own hilariously bad attempts at finding love, and in her spare time likes long walks down the makeup aisle. Follow Elizabeth on Instagram (@thebeautypalate) for all the beauty product eye candy and mouthwatering food you can handle.