Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
The world of online dating has opened up a seemingly endless pool of single people looking to date. All you have to do is create a profile on a popular dating app and start swiping to get some potential matches.
Of course, not everyone is honest online — and maybe you’re already wary of catfishing, where a person creates and portrays a patently false online identity to intentionally deceive someone. But should you tolerate kittenfishing?
Granted, both are acts of online deception. However, kittenfishing has been described as “catfishing lite,” and may only involve smaller omissions or exaggerations of details, rather than a full-on lie about who the person is. But what should you be comfortable to embrace in your pursuit of a life partner and loved one?
What Is the Difference Between Catfishing and Kittenfishing?
The concept of “catfishing” has been around longer than the internet, but it didn’t really become a well-known phenomenon until producer and actor Nev Schulman created a 2010 documentary film and MTV series called Catfish. In the film, Schulman detailed his experience with a woman who created a fake persona, lied about who she was and what she did, and created a network of fake people to help her string her lies together.
Often catfishing involves using photos of someone else (not the person you’re actually communicating with via the applicable dating platform or otherwise) and making up a false backstory. The goal of a catfish may be to scam you out of money, or to humiliate you when you realize that you have fallen in love with a person who doesn’t exist. It could even just be a bored troll.
Catfishing is pretty common, too: in 2017, there were more than 15,000 reports of catfishing across the nation. California, Texas, and Florida had the most reports of catfishing to authorities.
When someone is mostly honest about who they are, but they smudge the truth a little, it is often considered kittenfishing. Maybe they claim they have done a great deal of international travel, but they’ve only been out of their home state once and it was to a neighboring state. They might say that they’re 6 feet tall when they’re really 5’8.5”. They could claim to be a doctor, but they only completed one year of medical school. Or — and this one of the most common instances of kittenfishing — their profile picture shows a young, attractive person, but when you meet face-to-face, they look like they’ve aged quite a bit.
These are all just “little white lies” intended to impress, which may seem relatively harmless on the surface. But ultimately, you’re still being deceived. Whether it’s posting an older photo, exaggerating their career accomplishments, or something else, a person who kittenfishes is not being fully honest — and that may not be something you want in a partner or soulmate.
What If I Think Someone Is Misrepresenting Themselves Online?
If you think you’re being catfished or kittenfished, there are some things you can do to find out. Do a reverse Google image search with the photos your alleged crush sent you, or use their profile pic. If you find the photo connected to different name than the one on this person’s profile, it may mean that they stole a photo from someone else in order to create a fake persona and profile.
You could also try to find the social media of the person you’re chatting up. Do a search for their name online. Try doing a public records search to see if they’re a real person. It may actually turn up all sorts of other lies they’ve been telling you.
It might be a good idea to just confront the person, too. It’s possible that what seems like kittenfishing is nothing more than an attempt to mask a long-held insecurity.