However, catfishing is a spectrum, and it’s far more common than you might think. In fact, if you’ve ever massaged the truth on your own online dating profile, you may have even dabbled in it yourself. Like I say—it’s a spectrum. Of course there’s a world of difference between being a little economical with the truth and concocting an outright fictional profile, complete with fake pictures and an invented persona.

But if you have been dishonest in your online dating profile—no matter where you fall on that spectrum—if you meet someone great then eventually you’re going to have to come clean. That’s not a conversation you want to have. After all, your date will be thinking, ‘Well hey, if they’ve lied about that, what else have they lied about?’ It’s a slippery slope for sure. And to illustrate that, today we’re going to look at the 3 stages of catfishing—and how the situation will get increasingly beyond your control if you try keeping up the lie.

It’s all fun and games at the start…

It seems benign enough. Sure, you’ve lied about your job, your passions, even your location—but it’s no big deal, right? You’re enjoying the attention from lots of attractive singles.

But then… they want to know more.

And reality hits home.

Turns out they are using these apps to actually meet real-life singles and form relationships—and that’s when the fun stops. Because now it’s too late to back down from the pretense. And the lies expand and solidify as they become an integral part of your catfish persona. Worse still… you start to really like one of your matches in particular. And the regret of having grounded your entire interaction in mistruths starts hitting home.

There’s nothing else for it…

You see no alternative but to keep on lying. And then to create new lies to furnish and embellish the old. In the meantime, you’re struggling to remember the growing mountain of lies already spouted, some of them now weeks old.

You grapple with the prospect of just being honest and praying for miraculous forgiveness. But ultimately you decide against it—largely because you’re the type of person who was enticed by the prospect of catfishing in the first place. The kind of person who doesn’t feel their true self is enough.

You’ve dug a hole, and now you’re gazing up at the chink of sunlight emanating down from the real world. Old habits die hard.

You rally yourself, and resolve: ‘The next time we speak, I’m coming clean.’

But unfortunately…

The chance never came.

Or rather, it did—but you were too scared to face facts.

It’s now impossible to cover your own tracks. Cracks are emerging. Your messages are smattered with inconsistencies. Your match is getting confused, frustrated. You sense suspicion creeping into your interactions.

Then they Google you. And either discover “you” don’t even exist—or that you are real, but that pretty much everything you’ve told them has been a lie.

Your match is angry, devastated, disillusioned. If they don’t outright ghost you, they furiously confront you for your brazen dishonesty, for having led them on, and for having played with their emotions like it meant nothing.

Either way, no good has come of this. Now the world simply has one more person who’s sad, irate, and desensitized to the prospect of romance. And then there’s you, more alone than ever—which may only spur you on to repeat the charade with a new unsuspecting match looking for love.

There’s another way

It doesn’t have to be like this.

If you’ve catfished someone in the past, you can’t undo the hurt. And you shouldn’t try to, either—don’t go raking up old graves.

But of course that doesn’t need to be the end of your online dating. Delete your fake profile—but then create a new one. And this time be true to yourself. Remember, if you want to find real love, there are no shortcuts, and there’s no cheating: You have to find someone who truly loves the real you. So by being transparent in your profile from the outset, you filter out anyone who wouldn’t be right for you anyway—and save both of you weeks of strife and heartache in the process.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.