Ghosting, haunting, bread crumbing, stealthing, benching, cushioning, draking . . . welcome to the ever-expanding list of colourfully named dating trends that sound like they’ve been plucked straight out of a horror movie script.
And the latest trend in the frightening world of online dating? Kittenfishing.
We’ve all heard of catfishing — the act of luring someone in with a totally false profile, like the unemployed 43-year-old sitting in his mum’s basement swiping left like there’s no tomorrow and seeing how many fish he can land on the hook.
So if catfishing is pretending to be a totally different person, think of kittenfishing as Catfishing Lite — embellishing who you actually are by adding a little salt and pepper to your online presence by layering the Instagram filters on a bit thick or fudging a few personal details. Nowhere near as bad as catfishing, but hardly a welcome addition to the digital dating minefield.
We’re talking a cheeky couple of years that have gone missing between the birth certificate and the dating profile, a slightly more impressive job title than what actually appears on your work email signature, a profile pic that was taken a couple of years (and kilograms) ago.
Things that set up unrealistic expectations that come tumbling down as soon as you meet in real life, when you’re expecting a date with a five-foot-nine 26-year-old lifestyle blogger but you actually end up with a woman the same height as Tyrion Lannister, the wrong side of 30, and looking like she’s more likely to blog about food than fitness. Because how many strong and stable relationships can you think of that didn’t begin with deliberate misrepresentation?
This is something you might have experienced, but didn’t have a cute label to put on it until now. The term was coined by dating app Hinge — basically Tinder, but you connect with people you share mutual friends with — who surveyed their users and found that 24 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men reported they’d been duped in this way.
On the other hand, less than two per cent of users admitted to kittenfishing someone else, meaning Hinge users either don’t realise they’re misrepresenting themselves, or they’re a bunch of pathological liars. Take your pick.