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A friend of mine got catfished.

Reflections on a wild story, and how it feels to know some creep has pics of me.

A friend of mine recently got catfished.


It’s a wild story, and I have her permission to share it with you, because it’s been on my mind so much since finding out.



To go back to the beginning, my friend– let’s call her Andrea– is bisexual, and matched with a woman on tinder who was extremely enthusiastic (and even a bit pushy) about connecting.


If you haven’t been a queer woman on tinder, let me just preface this by saying how unusual this is– queer dating on apps is notoriously a nightmare, because a lot of women are on there just to “see their options” or dip a toe into queer waters, and they have no intention of actually chatting or meeting with another woman.


Personally I’ve chatted with many women who I was excited about who ghosted me as soon as I asked them out, had many women cancel dates with me at the last minute, and felt frustrated at how rarely women responded to me in the first place. (There are many very interesting reasons for this pattern, but that’s a topic for another day.)


The other thing about queer femmes on dating apps is that a lot of women are only on there to find a “third” for them and their male partner, either sexually or romantically (or both). Sometimes this is right out there in their bio, if they write something like “looking for a bisexual woman for fun with me and my husband!” but often they wait until you’re matched and chatting to drop that bomb.


This is obviously annoying, but I’m giving you this background because I genuinely wasn’t surprised when my friend started chatting with this woman on tinder, only to find out that she wanted someone to “share” with her husband.


Andrea was very interested in the woman, and open to possibly being included in a threesome, so she kept chatting, and things got very intense very quickly. The woman initiated some steamy sexting sessions, sending pictures of both herself and her husband, and Andrea responded with pictures of her own. They were texting every day, and the woman would say things like “omg you’re perfect, can’t you just move in with us and be our girlfriend already!?”


She also gave Andrea’s number to her husband’s best friend, who we’ll call Michael, because she just “thought they would really hit it off.” Apparently, within the context of her open relationship with her husband, she had slept with Michael before and found the idea of Andrea and Michael connecting very sexy.


All of this was a bit weird, and definitely intense, but plausible– it seemed like this woman just had a kink for sharing!


Then suddenly, the woman’s husband contracted COVID, and had to be hospitalized. Throughout this very weird week, she was still texting (and sexting) Andrea, and Andrea was also texting with Michael, whose best friend was in the hospital on a ventilator.


A few days later, this man died.



So now Andrea was texting with two people who had just lost someone very close to them, as they went through the process of setting up and having a memorial service. She said it felt very weird to keep up the sexting, but that both people seemed to want to, so…


At this point, the woman Andrea had matched with on tinder said she wanted to have sex with Michael again. Andrea was a little uncomfortable with the whole thing, having gotten very close to Michael in a romantic way (they had been talking about him being her boyfriend once they met at this point), but she also figured different people grieve in different ways, and maybe they were just seeking comfort in each others’ arms.


Shortly after that, the woman kind of fell off the map, apparently turning her phone off to deal with her grief. But Andrea and Michael kept texting every day, continuing to deepen their bond, and exchanging sexy pictures. They hadn’t met in real life yet because of the circumstances around the man’s death and some travel plans, but at this point I had come to think of Michael as Andrea’s sort-of boyfriend.


At this point, Michael found out that Andrea and I used to hook up, and started asking for my number, to sext with me too.


Because of my relationship agreements with my partner, this would have been totally fine, but it was such a weird situation (and the sudden death of his friend had my hackles up), so I didn’t give it to him. I did, however, send Andrea a few photos to pass along to him when he asked for them, taken when we were chatting and I was in a particularly playful and in a silly mood.


Eventually, Andrea and Michael set up a date to meet, and made a plan. They were going to go to dinner at a new restaurant nearby, on the day he got back from his most recent trip to visit friends.


At this point, so many little red flags had popped up along the way that I felt sure something would come up and he would make an excuse to cancel, but I so hoped for my friend’s sake that it worked out, and that he was a real guy who really wanted to date her.


After all, life can be weird, right?


The next day, however, Andrea got a text from Michael’s phone, from a guy saying Michael had gotten into a horrible car accident on the drive home, and was in the hospital incapacitated.


Oof.


Right then, I told Andrea it was done. Michael wasn’t real, he was just some kind of weird catfish situation. But at the same time, there was no definitive proof, and it would be pretty horrible if it had been true, and Andrea responded by being like “you are a liar and a fraud!” lol, so she continued to talk to the friend (and the woman she had originally matched with on tinder, who came back into the picture right then), as if it was real.


When Andrea cleverly asked for a photo of him in the hospital, she was sent a very stock-looking photo of a bone scan full of fractures, and told that it was his most recent x-ray.


I showed my partner, who was fully up to date about the whole weird situation, and he checked the metadata on the photo… only to discover that it had been taken four days before.


Michael had only gotten into his “accident” that morning.



From there, the situation kind of imploded. Andrea asked about the date of the photo, was met with defensiveness and anger, and then hasn’t heard from any of them since.


Now, my friend is processing both the heartbreak of loss of someone she really liked (and hoped to date), and the utterly disorienting fact that none of it was even real. We both freaked out about the fact that photos even have metadata (I had no idea), and worried for a while that some creep out there had both naked pictures of us and our home addresses, but after checking everything carefully we found out that the photos hadn’t sent with location on– thank goodness.


But it’s still such a bizarre, surreal thing to process. We’re dying to know what the freakin point of the whole thing was– like, what was their end game?? Were they going to eventually ask Andrea for money for Michael’s hospital bills, if she hadn’t caught on? Was it just some bored person looking for sexy pictures? Was more than one person actually involved, or did one person create various characters, and set up various phone numbers to text from?


Ugh.


Obviously we’re never going to get any satisfactory answers to these questions, but that certainly doesn’t stop the brain from wondering.


And on top of that, Andrea is now extremely worried that some creep out there has these naked photos of her, and could possibly use them to destroy her reputation or try to ruin her life.


This feels like a real possibility because of her job, although I am personally of the opinion that having nude pictures leaked in 2023 really shouldn’t matter to any reasonable employer. It’s such a weird carry-over from pre-internet purity culture that sending naked pics to another consenting adult can impact how fit that person is considered for their job (although I do recognize that it still happens, and can have devastating consequences).


Personally I feel immense gratitude for being in the privileged position where some creep having pictures of my bare tits might feel icky, but it doesn’t actually have any power over me.


Professionally, I can’t imagine these photos being “leaked” would impact anything, given what I do (and that I work for myself), but also personally I’m at a place with myself and my body that even if they were, I wouldn’t feel any shame or humiliation.


I say this because in order to feel shamed or humiliated by something, you have to believe it’s shame-worthy and humiliating in the first place! I don’t feel embarassed by the fact that I sent these photos, because I don’t believe taking or sending such photos means anything about me, and I don’t feel particularly afraid of people seeing them, because I know that my body doesn’t mean anything about me either.


Would it feel personal and awkward? Yes.

Would it be a massive boundary violation? Absolutely.


But having arrived at a place of complete acceptance of myself, my body, and my sexuality, I view these things through a neutral lens, meaning: without any moral significance or judgment. And you simply cannot humiliate someone about something they’ve come to feel neutrality about.


I share this both because it’s what’s been on my mind lately (hello #transparency), and also because I think it’s an interesting example of how body neutrality and radical self-acceptance can set us free from a lot of the stress, fear, and pain that we take for granted in life.


Have you ever been catfished? Hit reply and share your story or insights!


Big hug,

Jessi

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