The reality of people on your dating sites. 

Catfishing has become a recurring problem in this day and age. Between 2019 and 2022 the number of catfishing cases rose 174%. The problem extends into the dating lives of public figures too, showing that everyone is at risk of getting caught in the net.

One of the celebrities who was recently catfished was none other than actor Drew Barrymore. On one of her recent shows, she stated that she was catfished by a man claiming to be a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. 

Barrymore stated,“He was a musician who thought he was being cute…You’ve made me feel stupid. I don’t know who you are. I feel so dumb.” She posted a clip of her talking about this experience on her TikTok

Her coming out about this downside of dating apps, sparked questions on how common catfishing is. To start, let’s define catfishing. Merriam-Webster says that catfishing is  “a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes.” 

The fishers can be as subtle as lying about height or weight but they can even go as far as taking on a full new persona, with the date of births, photos and locations to pass as their own. The people that catfish may be con artists who specialize in this field. They can manipulate how people perceive them. Instead of coming across as someone with poor morals, they can appear caring, heartwarming and authentic. It is believable, but it is just an act. 

This act has infiltrated multiple different dating sites and it doesn’t stop there. It has spread to sites like Instagram, TikTok or Facebook where it comes in the form of asking users to be models, to try products or to support them in a fundraising campaign by asking for credit card information. 

January 2022 showed that 13% of internet users say they have definitely been catfished and 17% of users state they probably have. 

In 2024, roughly 62% of internet users claimed they had been catfished in the United States alone. 53% of this stat is made up of women and 18% were between the ages of 16-24. 

There are multiple reasons why people catfish. Some include poor self-esteem, hiding identity, depression and anxiety, financial gain, targeted revenge, harassment or hopes of exploiting children. 

No matter the reasons why catfishing happens, it affects many people negatively and it leads to people having stronger feelings of distrust and anxiety when meeting new people. 

Some red flags of catfishing are when they seem ‘too good to be true,’ if there are constant excuses for not meeting up in person or doing video calls, or when they request any private information. The latter refers to bank information, social security numbers or requests for money transfers. 

This happens a significant amount to celebrities, like Drew Barrymore. Celebrities may be more primed to catfishing because they have more money, more fame and more luxuries. They have more recognition and other people want a part of that. 

Regardless if you have experienced catfishing or not, be careful of people out there. Some may not have the best intentions.