Online dating can be freaking scary, in fact before I tried online dating myself, I was convinced that it was for people who were ‘desperate’ but I soon realized that wasn’t the case. There is this huge stigma around online dating and how we are conditioned into becoming people that we are ‘not’ all for the sake of preserving normality in the face of others. Which is why when you meet someone in person, you can become disappointed, as we paint visual realities in our heads that don’t quite match the person that turns up on your date. Which is maybe why I am still single, but then again I think its more a case of guys being intimidated by my defense wall but that is a story for another occasion. For some though, dating is more than just complicated but a complete mind-fuck. I get that people act differently behind a keyboard but for Esse she found that the guy she had been speaking to online was actually a ‘catfish’ and A. looked nothing like the guy she had been ‘seeing’ and B. gave her a complete shock when she realized the guy was a completely different person, name and all!
Meet Esse, a dating and relationship blogger who I have admired for quite some time. From her frank exploration of the online dating scene to dishing out the dirt on exes, how society romanticizes dating into an ‘idealistic reality’ and past relationships, Esse is no stranger to dating disasters, which made her the perfect candidate for my series. Describing herself as the ‘Frog Princess’ Esse humorously chronicles her search for the ‘frog who will turn into a Prince’ yet for some reason always ends up being a good ol’ regular lying Toad. Or in the case below a big massive CATFISH, I wonder how many acronyms we could make out of that…
Hi guys my name is Esse and I’m about to tell you the story of how I was catfished before MTV even made it a thing…
I’ve been a hopeless romantic my whole life. So, it’s an understatement to say I fully expected to meet the love of my life when I went to college. I just knew I’d meet him, sparks would fly, and we’d be married just before I started my residency (after med-school). Tall order. (Let’s just say med-school was replaced by other career plans and at 30, I’m STILL not married yet.)
With that being said, I’ll take you back to my freshman year in college. At this point, I wasn’t dating and wasn’t really worried about it. I was lightly blogging on MySpace (yes, I just confessed to that) and just on social media to stay in touch with childhood friends. I noticed that this one guy kept sending me messages after following/adding me (I can’t remember the exact term, now.) He was persistent, but never disrespectful so I finally started to respond. (Of course, his profile picture was decent enough for me to fall into his trap.) I figured if I was going to achieve my goal of being married by 25, I had to actually start dating, so why not? What’s the worst that could happen?
The interactions started light. He asked my major, career plans, etc. (Typical for college students chatting it up.) He’d told me that he was attending a school in the same city and that he played piano for a church. I was hooked by the musical talent mention. (I’m always a sucker for the musically talented.) As things progressed, he started to ask me about my days and complain about missing me during the day (because I had yet to give him my number).
Sidenote: I never trusted anyone that pursued me via the internet. This was around the time when people were getting kidnapped and killed by Internet blind dates and Craiglist merchants. The last thing I wanted was to give someone my number, go on a date, and get my kidney harvested in the name of love. Tragic.
I knew that if we were going to go anywhere with the relationship, I would have to give him my number and trust that he wasn’t going to be crazy. I apprehensively let my guard down one day and we started to talk via text and phone conversations. I didn’t even know what his voice sounded like until then.
With us exchanging numbers, we talked more often and for longer periods of time. I could really see his true personality and not just the nice things he was writing via our messages. I was starting to get a “jerk” vibe, but I didn’t want to be dismissive. (I’ve always been perceptive to “vibes”.) I noticed as he got more comfortable, he was starting to tell me what he expected from his potential girlfriend. He was basically throwing strong hints my way that if I wanted the position, this is what he expected from his girl:She couldn’t just wear ponytails (I smoothed my frazzled ponytail when he said this). She needed to wear heels. (I glanced at all the tomboyish sneakers in my closet after that statement). She also would have to regularly get manicures and pedicures. (The chipped polish on my toenails was all too telling at that point). He wanted a high-maintenance priss and I was only a FEW personality strokes away from being an alphabet belching tomboy.
Because of this and the fact that I was starting to feel insecure about EVERYTHING, I told him that I definitely wasn’t what he was looking for. It wasn’t like he couldn’t see my basic hair and non-prissy attire in my posted pictures. I wasn’t sure why he even bothered. I assumed his high demands indicated he was FAR more attractive than his TWO pictures let on. (Had MTV Catfish been around at this point, these TWO pictures would have been a red flag—given how conceited he was.) I figured his body must have been amazing and he looked like some type of god to levy this type of pressure on his counterpart. He was OUT OF MY LEAGUE. This was the first time I’d ever felt like this and it sucked. I explained my issue to him and said I’d move out of the way so that he could find his unicorn perfect match.
He didn’t acknowledge my detachment and insisted we hang out. Hanging out wasn’t going to change my style, so I was pretty adamant that we didn’t. He was persistent. I eventually gave in and scheduled a meeting a week out. That would give me time to get “cute” and figure out an outfit that would be prissy enough for him. I was actually mad at myself for folding under his pressure AND trying to conform to his prissy standards. Nonetheless, I was invested and he seemed to be really into me outside of the style preference. I went back and forth with myself for a week about what to wear, how to style my hair, and if I thought he was going to make me take off my shoes to show him my horrendous, chipped-polish-laden, toes. I was a MESS! What if he really requested to see my toes when we met? I was prepared to fake a seizure or breakdance my way to safety. Note: Random breakdancing always works to make someone lose interest if done correctly.
The day came and my nerves were all over the place. There was still the chance that he was just a handsome psycho killer too, but I’d agreed, and this needed to be resolved. I threw my hair in a high ponytail and put on my most boyish sneakers. (You guessed it. I defaulted to defiant.) If he didn’t like this version of me, there would be no OTHER version. He needed to see the “ugly” phase before he could reap the benefits of my EFFORT. I’d agree to meet him outside of my dorm building (where I knew there would be several people).
I went outside and waited. I was looking for the tall, dark, handsome, and conceited guy I’d been talking to for a few months. I didn’t see anyone that looked like him. The usual people were walking in and out of the building and I was starting to almost feel relieved that he didn’t show. I noticed a guy get out of a car and start to slowly shuffle toward me. I figured he was lost. Poor guy. I was prepared to give him terrible directions to wherever he was trying to go (I’m really bad at giving driving directions). When he got in front of me he stopped and smiled. I smiled back at him being naturally friendly. I waited for him to ask for directions, but he stepped back a bit and mumbled, “Esse?”
While part of me died, a flood of questions started to run through my head. There was no way THIS guy was the conceited jerk I’d been chatting up for a few months. His profile picture and his actual appearance looked like a before and after weight loss comparison in reverse. He could NOT be the person making all these demands on his potential girl. I was in flat out denial AND I felt sorry for the guy simultaneously. Obviously, he wasn’t confident, wanted to be accepted, AND he actually succeeded in making me feel the same during the process. I opened my mouth to say something reassuring, but before I could find the words he started talking.“I told you I don’t care for ponytails and sneakers, but you meet me for the first time like this?”
Disbelief is an understatement. The nerve of this booger-wolf of a man to deceive me, make me feel like I wasn’t good enough, and double down on his jerk antics! What gall! I immediately started laughing (I always laugh first in extreme emotional situations). His face was serious and disapproving. He was literally standing there expecting me to explain. I was almost annoyed to fury. I opened my mouth expecting a flood of expletives to come out, but I remembered he could still be a psycho killer (that now knew where I lived) and I dialed it back.
“I expected the man from your pictures… and you meet me for the first time like this?!” (Solid burn) “You made me feel like I wouldn’t be good enough to be your girl when YOU are the one that’s insecure and hiding behind a picture that’s clearly not you… or maybe you when you actually liked yourself.” (Another solid burn) “Lose my number. I’m obviously not your type and you’re definitely not mine. Now I would say I walked off like a boss to make myself seem cooler, but I scurried into the building—glancing back a few times to make sure he wasn’t coming to bop me in the back of my head and drag me to his car. Either way, I still feel like it was a strong exit.
Had Nev and Max from Catfish been around back then, I would have noticed a few red flags and cut my losses far earlier. That meeting would have NEVER happened, but I guess I needed to learn a valuable lesson. I will never let anyone else make me feel as inadequate as HE did because they’re probably just an insecure jerk looking to make themselves feel better about their shortcomings!
Poor Esse, I have been with guys who followed the exact same cookie cutter method, trying to control what I did and how I dressed but at least I was dating them and knew what they looked like. Can you imagine what its like to meet someone in person who you thought would be a catch from the demands they were throwing your way only to discover that they were a completely different ‘kettle of fish’ entirely? Oh wait, I do know what that feels like because I too have been catfished and I really sympathize with you gurl. Next time you rock up to a date being YOU because noone should tell you what to do or how to dress. The right person will love you just the way you are!
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