When Catfish: The TV Show aired in 2012, it took our generation and pop culture by storm. Every episode we saw an attractive, seemingly normal person reaching out to the hosts Nev and Max for help, because they had fallen in love with a person they had never physically met or seen. And at the end of every episode, the outcome would always be the same, the other person was usually overweight, socially unattractive, a loner with no real social skills, and who always claimed their feelings were real but admitted that their pictures were not.
Amazingly, this show is still on, which makes no sense when we have Facetime, but we all know that catfishing goes beyond just someone lying to you about their physical appearances. People can, and often are, emotional and sexual catfishes.
Often times, before someone gets serious with someone else, they will use social media as a way to find out that person’s interests. The places they like to go and the things they like to talk about. Even more, they will use social media as a way to figure out what that person is looking for in a partner, and what they aren’t. This type of social media investigating can be dangerous. A person can take the information that you've been sharing and present themselves to you in a way that isn't true to who they really are.
These type of people are emotional catfishes. And these made up personas often unravel once they get into a relationship with you. Nobody changes overnight or just up and decides to be a different person. They have probably studied you, and once they feel your sense of comfortability and realize they have gained control over your emotions; their act will stop and their true form will reveal itself.
But emotional catfishing doesn’t stop there. Partners telling you they want a relationship to keep you around or to monopolize your attention when they really don’t–is another form of emotional catfishing. And anytime someone presents themselves to you in a way emotionally based on what you’ve said you needed and not based on who they can really be for is a form of emotional catfishing.
Sexual catfishing can be more elusive. This behavior is often demonstrated by more dominant presenting queers who tend to withhold their true sexual desires from their partners until they’ve become frustrated with the lack of sexual fulfillment they are receiving. Though dominant presenting in nature, many black queers who identify as “studs,” “trans,” or “non-binary” still enjoy forms of sexual intercourse that is seen as more feminine–like being fingered or taking the strap. Many of these individuals have not found a balance between their masculine and feminine sexual energies, which often leads to insecurities. And the practice of falsifying their sexual desires to potential partners in the beginning of sexual relationships. Which can leave the femme confused and sexually isolated.
In the same breath, femme presenting black queers also tend not to be honest about what they are willing to do sexually with their partners. And fail to create a safe space for open dialogue around the sex that they are having, and how and if it can be changed if their more dominant partner is unhappy.
This behavior (sexual catfishing) tends to create confusing and frustrating sexual experiences for both of the parties involved. And while one could be committing this act unintentionally, conversations around your specific sexual desires should be ones that are honest and transparent, and held before the sex even happens. If not, your partner could feel like you’ve been dishonest with them and see you as a sexual catfish.
How to avoid being a catfish–whether physically, emotionally or sexually? Be honest about who you are and what you have to offer. There is someone out there who will love you for you, and meet you exactly where you are at.
Have you been catfished? Or have you been the catfish? Use the comment section below to tell us about your experience.
Written by: Kee Simone (@thebaddiegalore)