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Help! I think I'm being catfished!
Three weekends in to my online dating adventure and I fear I'm being catfished by an ex.
For those of you not familiar with the term catfishing, it refers to the sadly common practise of people pretending to be someone they're not, via false identities they've created on dating sites and/or social media, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.
Read more from The Midlife Single: Let the dating adventures begin
But it is so common that an entire reality TV series was built around it, catching out an endless stream of fairly pathetic offenders on behalf of victims .
I thought I was too savvy to get stung. And while I have no solid evidence that I've been catfished, the gut feeling is intense on this one and if there's one thing I've learnt to rely on in life, it's my instinct.
It doesn't help that I met the ex in question, Mr G, two years earlier on the same site ... ironically, called Plenty of Fish. We dated casually for a few months until I discovered I was his side piece, he'd been cheating on his partner of four years.
I had also stumbled across his profile again on the site the night before and swiped left with a shiver. Was it fair to assume that he'd also seen my newly created one?
The unsettling scenario unfolded the next day, on the Sunday, when I broke my golden rule about not engaging in conversation with anyone whose dating profile did not carry a photograph.
But this guy caught me on the hop. I was having a lovely chat with a sweet but cheeky gent on Plenty Of Fish when the suspected offender's first message landed.
It was from a user called The Argentine Devil.
I didn't give it a second glance. However, about an hour later, while waiting for a reply to a message from my new friend, I got bored and scrolled down through my inbox.
There it was, The Argentine Devil , enticing me like a red rag would a bull. I'm a creature with a curious mind and a weakness for a sexy accent, so it was no surprise when I convinced myself it wouldn't hurt to look.
His introduction of himself was direct and to the point: Would I consider dating a well-built man from overseas?
Curiosity satisfied, I ignored the message and carried on. But a seed had been planted.
A little later, for reasons I cannot explain, I jumped back in to read his profile properly. Surprisingly, his profile was a polar opposite to his username. He did not come across as a jerk or a sleeze, but a divorcee looking to date, ultimately long-term.
I replied to his message, thanking him for saying hello but declining because of the lack of the photo.
Long story short, we ended up chatting ... probably a little too easily now that I think back on it.
He said his name was Andre, that he was Argentinean-Australian and manager, who did not need staff prying into his business. He then posted a couple of photos of a handsome, exotic-looking fellow (probably my ex's salsa instructor, poor sod) and I ignored the alarm bells ringing in my head.
A couple of hours down the track after some comfortable and sometimes spirited banter, Andre thanked me for the chat and said he had to go.
Just 15 minutes later, a petulant Mr G messaged me on WatsApp, wanting to know if we could catch up, saying that he missed me, asking why he was not a priority in my life any more and making a cryptic reference to goldfish.
Coincidence? I don't think so! But again, I have no proof, just an extremely strong suspicion.
It was strong enough that I've deleted him from WhatsApp (I'd unfriended him on Facebook and deleted his phone number long ago). I've also reported the Andre profile to Plenty of Fish, explaining my fears - apologising if I'm, in fact, wrong - but explaining that if I'm correct, the psycho needed to be stopped from hurting anyone else.
Meanwhile, I'm scratching my head about what else I could have done, bar engaging again with a toxic narcissist and not having concrete proof to back my instinct.
I'd love to hear what you think. Ám I right to have my suspicions? Should I have tackled this situation differently? And most importantly, what would you have done?
Even worse, have you had a close encounter with a Catfish?
Please, get in touch. I'm dying to hear from you.