Catfishing On Dating Apps: The Signs Of Catfishing

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Worried the person you’re speaking to is a catfish? Think you may be being catfished on a dating app? Then fear not, we’re going to get you swatted up on the signs of catfishing. Learn how to better spot the catfish and stop wasting time speaking to someone who is not who you think.

What Is Catfishing?

Before we look at the signs of catfishing, I want to get clear on what exactly catfishing is – not just by definition, but when it comes to dating.

After all, the phrase can get thrown around quite a lot nowadays! So strictly speaking, catfishing refers to…

When a person takes information and images, typically from other people, and uses them to create a new identity for themselves.

They could be stealing a real person’s identity – someone they’ve seen / followed on social media for instance, to it could just be a series of random photos they’ve found.

Either way, they don’t look like that person, and they usually build up a persona to go with it – building up who they are, what they do, where they live even, how old they are.

The degree of deception when it comes to catfishing can vary. But this is important to note…

The Most Common Type of Catfishing When Dating

See when it comes to catfishing on dating apps, it can also be seen – not just as a person who’s pretending to be another person…

But it could be someone who is actually themselves, but they show pictures that look completely different to what they look like now.

So they may be showing photos that are 5-10 years younger, they may also tell you they’re younger than they are.

Or, they could heavily edit their photos to the point that they’re actually transforming their face and body.

It could also be down incorrect details on their profile. Like, for example, saying they’re 5 inches taller than they are, or that they have this cool-as-hell job – when really they just work in a coffee shop.

Either way, your expectations for who you thought they were and what they would look like, don’t match up, because they lie / trick you to try to hook you in… Only for you to then be grossly disappointed when you find out the truth, in many cases anyway!

The thing is, it’s bad – because you invest your time, presuming the person is who they portray themselves to be, when actually, they’re not. It’s deceitful.

It’s Important To Understand…

Just please note: catfishing isn’t just when someone looks SLIGHTLY better than their photos. (Let’s say they get great lighting for example, or know all the right angles to pose.)

This doesn’t mean they’re a catfish. After all, everyone looks SLIGHTLY different in person, compared to photos anyway, so this is to be expected.

See, you can’t just throw around that someone is a catfish, just because you don’t find them quite as attractive in person. (This by the way, would also be pretty mean!)

You see the difference? Catfishing is purposeful or knowing, deception, about who they are vs. who they portray themselves to be. So be mindful of this, and careful with your words.

The Key Signs Of Catfishing

So when it comes to the key signs of catfishing, I want to focus on the photo aspect predominantly, with a person either:

  1. Pretending to be a different person. Using photos on their dating profile that are not them.
  2. Pretending to look different to how they do now. Using old photos or inaccurate photos.

After all, this is the most common form of catfishing. Everything else that comes with it, in terms of building themselves up to be a person they’re not, that usually comes with it.

So when it comes to how to spot that kind of stuff – ultimately you want to look for the signs they’re not genuine.

See, you’ll start to notice the things that they say that don’t quite add up or seem realistic / true. And that’s how you piece it together.

This is very specific to the person and the situation however, so for now, we’ll look at the signs of catfishing that are more standard…

And that’s going back to visual deception. So let’s get clear on that!

Catfishing On Dating Apps

So, here are some of the things to look out for if you want to spot catfishing on dating apps.

1) A Narrow Selection of Photos

One of the first signs of catfishing on dating apps that I want to pick up on, is the fact that they probably won’t have many photos on their profile.

They also usually won’t have their instagram linked. They’ll just have a small pool of photos of themselves (and usually just themselves), often in a similar setting too.

The style of the photos are usually similar. So they don’t have a mix of selfies vs. group pictures, vs pictures that are taken by other people – so that you can see them in different environments.

This is usually because their photos were actually just taken from the Internet, or from somebody else’s profile!

They may have filled out more of the written part of their profile to try to draw you in.

And hey, maybe it worked to a degree. Notice some witty and funny “dating me is like” answers?! Well just remember – that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s 100% who they are…

It could just be who they WANT to be! Similarly…

2) Picture-Perfect Photos

A catfish may also have a profile that looks too good to be true.

They have a lot of model shots, and only model shots. Maybe they do have an instagram account linked, but again, the only shots that are posted on there are ones of models.

Just be mindful of this. Does it look real? Or could it have been easily created?

Signs Of Catfishing When Dating

3) They Don’t Have Social Media

As mentioned, most catfishes won’t actually have social media.

After all, they’re either not the person they say they are or they don’t like the way they look and so don’t have many photos to update it.

They’ll tell you they “don’t like social media!”, although what you might find is that they do have snapchat. Snapchat is popular amongst catfish’s.

This is because they can send you shots of where they are, without showing who they are.

They can also upload photos and send them as snaps – photos that aren’t them, but make you think they’re them, thinking it will help to build trust and make you less suspicious.

And then of course they’ll try to get you to send them some photos… Creepy, I know.

So if the only social media they have is Snapchat, and they send very few snaps of them (and the ones they do send look very similar to the ones on their profile) then it can be a cause for concern.

4) They Don’t Have Many Friends On Social Media

If they do have social media, look at their friends list – especially on instagram.

They’ll usually have very few followers, but the ones they do have are full of females, probably coming from dating apps just like you.

They’ll also probably have fake accounts in there, following them.

Another thing to look at is engagement – do they have any comments on their photos from friends. In fact, do they have any tagged pictures with friends?

You’ll also find that their account isn’t very active and isn’t very old. They set this up so they could stalk, predominantly.

They’re more about watching others instead of sharing their own life, and that’s because their own life is a little different to what they make out!

5) Poor Quality Photos

So getting away from socials and back to the pictures on their dating profile again – grainy or poor-quality photos are also a sign of catfishing, particularly the type when a person is only showing old photos.

See, technology advances pretty fast which actually works against a catfish, because it can be a surefire giveaway.

Guys can sometimes “get away with it too”, with explanations like “I’m not good with photos!” Yes, maybe you’re not, but you can tell one that was taken back in ancient history!

6) They Don’t Want To Speak On The Phone

So if you’re suspicious you’re speaking to a catfish on a dating app, you might ask to speak to them on the phone.

Video call is out of the question (of course) but a phone call would at least clarify gender and suggest a little insight into age.

Now some catfishes will speak on the phone – particularly the ones who are actually themselves, they just don’t really look like their photos.

However, if they’re a completely different person, or lacking in confidence (hence why they create a new identity for themselves), they’re less likely to speak.

7) They Reply Back To Your Messages Quickly

Another common sign of a catfish is that they’ll usually reply to you pretty fast. They’ll look great, they’ll seem like an absolute catch… and yet they’re still readily available.

Now I know, your EPIC opening lines on dating apps may be helping here, but even so…

They reply fast, they reply often, they seem very keen and it all seems a little too good to be true… It’s like their personality doesn’t quite match their image.

(And that’s usually because it actually doesn’t!)

Now of course, this isn’t always the case. You do get attractive guys, who do show you interest, and they are who they say they are.

But don’t you always find you’re stumbling across many who just hit you with that “hey” opening line, and expect their looks to do the rest?!

So this is just one of the little signs that starts to make sense when you add it altogether with the other signs.

8) They Seem a Little Shifty

If you start to ask them personal questions, bring up your concerns or outright mention the fact that they could be a catfish, they’ll either laugh it off, change the subject or go cold.

See, someone who’s not a catfish might be a little insulted – they may get defensive. They may also try to “prove” they’re not a catfish, either by sending a photo or video or voice note, but they’ll probably do it reluctantly!

A catfish won’t be able to prove that they’re not one – so you won’t be getting any of that. They’re also likely to have had this issue come up before, so it won’t come up as such a surprise.

Regardless of this, they still won’t like it. They’ll make excuses, dodge your questions or maybe even disappear completely – knowing that you’re onto them.

Catfishing On Dating Apps

9) They Won’t Meet You In Person

One of the biggest signs of catfishing as we near towards the end of our list now, is that they won’t want to meet you in person.

I mean, why would they – they don’t know how you’ll react and their cover will be blown.

They’ll avoid bringing up a date, they’ll make excuses for why they can’t see you, they’ll cancel your date last minute and just keep putting it off.

It’s like all they want to do is speak… but you’re not looking for a penpal.

Of course this can also happen regardless. Some people will waste your time and not want to see you, for reasons completely unrelated.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a catfish but again, when you compile this on top of the other signs – it starts to fit.

10) Requests For Money

Last but not least, if you’re getting requests for money, or anything like that, it’s one of the major signs of catfishing.

This is actually less common on dating – particularly when a man is catfishing a woman. This usually happens because he doesn’t feel confident in the way that he looks or hasn’t had much luck with dating when he’s just himself.

However, catfishing doesn’t just happen when dating and sometimes there are overlaps.

It’s known that people will pretend to be someone they’re not, make the other person fall in love with them, then ask for money… And they’re clever with it.

It’s very sad, but it happens – so never allow yourself to be so sucked in by a person that you start to support them financially, especially without fully knowing them (even if you feel like you do!)

What To Do If You Feel Like You’re Being Catfished

So there’s the signs of catfishing when dating. But what do you do if you feel like you’re being catfished? Well, it’s simple in theory – bring it up. Ask the person.

You should also be meeting the people you speak to within the first couple of weeks of matching on dating apps, so if you follow this “rule” and don’t invest too much time into a person if it drags on for longer than that, this kind of protects you.

The hard thing is when you’re so sucked in by a person – it’s difficult to walk away. You have these “what if’s”.

They won’t admit they’re catfishing you, you don’t know what to believe and you don’t want to cut them out completely “just incase they’re not.”

But at this point you have to take a step back.

  • What do you want here?
  • Is this person giving you what you need?

And you might say, yes! On messages! It’s perfect. But messages aren’t real life.

So if you think you’re being catfished, they won’t prove it, they won’t meet you, then I’m sorry, but you have to just walk away.

You don’t have to be rude, you don’t even have to close the door completely, but leave it in their hands so that if they change their mind on meeting up, they know you’re totally up for that…

But don’t wait for it to happen. Accept it. (Even if you don’t want to.) Brush yourself off. And start speaking to other people.

Put your attention on someone else. Someone who is genuine and does want to meet up and see where it goes!

Recommended Read: The Best Serious Dating Apps To Find Love

If You’ve Been Catfished…

If you’ve been catfished, try not to feel too bruised. You’re not stupid. You’re not naive. Catfishes can be damn clever. And so it can happen to the best of us.

I know it kind of hurts. I also know it can be super frustrating… This person just completely wasted your time! But you have to let it go, and move onwards and upwards.

The more familiar you are with the signs of catfishing, the less likely it is to happen again. So I know it sucks. But don’t let it affect your dating outlook. Keep at it!

All the best.


Signs Of Catfishing On Dating Apps

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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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