For most of us single gals, we know how hard the dating game is in our 20's. Having to deal with ghosting, situationships, soft nexting, zombieing and the bunch of other terms that all just boil down to frustration and no real commitment, is no fun. But since we're social creatures who are meant to be loved, we know that hibernating in our rooms and watching Netflix forever just won't cut it (I mean you can only re-watch Making A Murderer so many times before it gets weird for everyone). So sometimes you need to put on your big girl panties and put yourself out there. 

READ ALSOWhy Benching Is The New Ghosting

That's why recently I decided to jump into the online dating world. With so many websites and apps to choose from, I was a little overwhelmed. But after consulting some knowledgeable friends, I decided to sign up for the most common three- Tinder, OkCupid, and Bumble and try my luck for 1 full month. I mean if nothing happened within that time, I figured that it was the universe's way of telling me to take up knitting and start buying cats because I was destined to be alone. 

My first week was pretty lame tbh, it was just a lot of people starting conversations that quickly fizzled out or just some plain old creeps. I was quickly losing interested when all of a sudden I got a message on OkCupid from this unbelievably hot girl - let's call her Sara. I totally wasn't expecting it since I put all my preferences to interested in males and identifying as straight but the situation had me intrigued. While I've never hooked up with a girl before, I'm by no means opposed to trying it out and seeing if it could be something I'm into. So I messaged Sara back. 

Surprisingly things weren't weird at all. I was impressed by how down to earth Sara was and how quickly the conversation moved from superficial topics to more serious and meaningful ones. We had a lot of things in common and she was so funny. After a few great days of conversation, I was really wanted to meet Sara in real life and see if this online connection could exist when we were face to face. So, we set up a date to see Despicable Me 3 together for the following weekend.

Like mentioned before, I've never been in a lesbian relationship and wasn't sure what the protocol for first dates was so I hit up a friend and asked for the down low. She INSTANTLY called bullshit on the situation. She told me that this whole thing seemed really sketchy and that the kind of lesbians who only reached out to straight girls would not be worth my time. She also said that lipstick lesbians typically didn't go for other lipstick lesbians so I was probably being catfished. By the end of the conversation, my head was spinning.

I mean we can all agree that most of those statements were generalizations, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to do a little internet lurking. I found Sara's Instagram account and Facebook page which were both pretty established so I felt confident that Sara was a real person. On a whim, I decided to look up her number on WhatsApp and see if the profile picture would match up to her social media. 

What I discovered floored me.

The photo attached to the number definitely wasn't the one I'd been seeing on Sara's social media accounts and through the pictures she'd sent me. The WhatsApp pic wasn't of a tall, gorgeous, blonde 23-year-old girl but instead a MUCH older and larger man. I was SHOOK, to say the least. 

Honestly, I knew there was a chance that Sara might not have been 100% legit but I never in my wildest dreams thought that she was actually a HE. 

It didn't take long for me to get PISSED. I mean who the actual fuck does that? I'd shared intimate details with this guys (let's call him John) thinking he was Sara and I now felt unbelievably stupid. So you best believe that I called out "Sara" real quick. John didn't even try to deny it when I made my accusations and aplogized like crazy. 

I asked him if he planned on showing up to the movie as himself or if he was going to keep stringing me along forever! He said that he had every intention of showing up as himself and seeing if I would give him a chance. I was totally blown away by that revelation, I mean couldn't he see how absolutely terrifying that would have been for me? 

I felt like I needed to educate him a little on why everything he's just told me was beyond not okay. As we got to talking I asked him why he thought he could do this to people and how he thought it was fair. He explained that he knew that as himself, no one would ever go for him and at least as Sara people would talk to him online and he wouldn't be so lonely. 

It turns out that John is a war vet and struggles with serious PTSD from his time he spent in Iraq/ Afganistan. He struggles with depression and has extremely low self-esteem. Hence his need to create a fake online identity to interact with people. 

By no means did him telling me all this excuse the fact that he lied, stole someone's actual identity (oh yeah Sara does exist but she's a cute Toronto girl who he friend requested so he could steal pics from), and just made poor choices all around. BUT on a human level, I could understand why he did the things he did. 

I said it at the beginning of this article, humans are social creatures and we all need someone to connect with and feel loved by. John really thought he was so worthless as himself, and that no one could like him for who he really was.

I knew making him feel like shit for his lies would just confirm his negative opinion of himself. I figured in order to really teach him a lesson he needed to see that there are people out there who could like him for who he is. That's why instead of hating on my catfish, I decided to befriend him.

We won't ever be joint at the hip BFF's who braid each other's hair and talk on the phone for hours but we do text back and forth and we occasionally meet up for coffee. He knows there's absolutely zero chance of this developing into something romantic but John is happy to accept the friendship I'm offering. 

It's strange and unconventional but that's okay because sometimes forgiveness teaches a better lesson than anger. 

*This story was written based on a friend's true experience* 

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