When navigating the uneasy waters of online dating, you’re bound to encounter some misrepresentation when it comes to peoples’ profiles. You may have even encountered a potential paramour who used a photo of someone who literally wasn’t them.
While it’s compelling to simply label all of the above behaviors as “Lying” with a capital “L,” misrepresentation in dating profiles is slightly more nuanced. The dating app Hinge has even created a new term to encapsulate the little white lies people often propagate in their dating apps: “kittenfishing.”
We are all familiar with the phrase “catfishing,” a term which references the act of posing online as an entirely fabricated individual, complete with fake information and fake photos. “Kittenfishing” is similar, except that it occurs when someone stretches the truth about themselves rather than assuming a fake persona. “Kittenfishing” is when a guy tells you he’s 6’2″ and 28 years old, when in actuality he’s 5’11” and 32 years old. These are details that aren’t entirely off-base — but they certainly aren’t the truth, either.
People of both gender are kittenfished with alarming regularity. According to data from Hinge, 38% of men and 24% of women have reported being kittenfished at some point. Interestingly, only 2% of men and 1% of women report kittenfishing someone else — which brings to light an interesting question: do these people even realize that they’re misrepresenting themselves?
In all likelihood, many people do not view stretching the truth on a dating app as downright lying.
“We have to wonder if people think this is harmless or if people do it intentionally,” Nikki Leigh, love coach and host of Ready for Love Radio, tells Bustle. “Maybe they see it like a little white lie. They may figure they’ll shave a few (or more) years off their age to make themselves seem more attractive to grab a person’s attention. Or they may post a picture when they were thinner, so they can get more attention in the beginning. It’s sad they don’t realize that they aren’t doing themselves any favors and they are actually hurting their own chances if they are really looking for a date or love and they are hurting other people.”
Many people feel like exaggerating the truth from the get-go is they key to grabbing someone’s attention before ultimately winning them over with their personality. Unfortunately, this attitude doesn’t exactly lead to healthy relationships.
“For starters, dating is a competitive sport — and we feel the pinch. So, we resort to embellishment,” Chris Armstrong, relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, tells Bustle. “We do what we need to gain an edge. Second to this, we believe it is harmless and that our charm and wit will win out in the end. ‘I know I’m not really 6’2 but she’ll love my sense of humor.’ Lastly, we lack confidence. We perceive and believe that if we show the real us, we will get little to no ‘bites’. It becomes a vicious cycle really — imagine having low confidence and being in a competitive dating world. Not only are you not high on yourself but you also worry that others will steal your future wife or husband.”
Fortunately, apps such as Hinge are adding video introductions to peoples’ profiles, which helps to eliminate some of the potential for miscommunication between potential matches. Hopefully this trend will also encourage users to be more honest about who they are and what they look like.
That said, it’s important to keep the “kittenfishing” phenomenon in mind when you’re creating your own dating profile — because pretending to be someone you aren’t is certainly not the way to find a fulfilling live life.