Chris also admits to the catchand-release approach.
“I loved the chase, so I’d work hard to reel them in, and as soon as they took my bait, I was out.” He attributes this to his own selfesteem and commitment issues.
“If someone does this to you, call them out. I needed to be called out, and after an ex finally spoke up during a breakup, I smartened up. I have my ex to thank for forcing me to look in the mirror, and now I’m in the best relationship I could imagine,” he says.
Other daters report being hurt by both cushioning and catfishing.
Cushioning is a manipulative way to keep someone in your back pocket while you’re dating another person in order to soften the blow if the first prospect doesn’t work out. You may not know you’re being cushioned, so it’s important to ask a potential partner if he or she is seeing anyone else and inquire as to whether the potential partner is still on any dating apps.
Parkdale’s Safiya admits that she and her friends almost always have a backup plan:
“We don’t call it cushioning, but I suppose they are really a safety net. I’ve never been asked, but I don’t think I’d lie if someone asked me point-blank.”
Catfishing involves creating a fake profile, and kitten-fishing is a toned-down version in which people falsify parts of their profile from their photo to their job title. You can avoid being catfished by verifying a person’s information through social media or performing Google reverse image search on a profile pic. Suggesting an IRL meeting early on will force the catfishers to the surface.
Navigating the ever-evolving world of digital dating may seem daunting, but with 19 per cent of recent engagements and marriages budding online, there are millions of meaningful connections to be made. If you’re unsure about someone, enlist the help of a friend or crowd-source advice from your social network. And when in doubt, be direct. Direct questions can disarm the catfishers, breadcrumbers and submariners (ghosters who reappear with no explanation) alike. And if you do run into a game player, don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s them.