"I’m almost positive my best friend is in love with a catfish. How do I 1) be absolutely certain and, if he is, b) convince him to GET OUT before he’s even more crushed. I don’t want to make him feel dumb or like the love he feels isn’t real or valid."
- Question submitted by Anonymous
I am of the mindset that currently everyone is being catfished. Clearly, I’m wrong.. not everyone on the internet is a fishcat- fishcat is way cuter than catfish- BUT the bottom line is SOME PEOPLE ARE FISHCATS.
I think it’s cool to talk to your friend about your fears, but make sure you aren’t being accusatory. If I were your friend and I met someone on the internet and fell head over heels and really felt like I could be myself and finally thought someone understood me and EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT, I would be really defensive of my internet lover. And if you approached me by saying “your internet lover is probably a fishcat,” I would be mad at you. HOWEVER, if you said “are you ever afraid INTERNETLUV might be a fishcat,” I would be more willing to have a conversaysh.
I would advise against trying to Veronica Mars / Harriet The Spy / SVU Detective Name the situation, ONLY BECAUSE if you are wrong, you will just be a creep. OH maybe you can suggest being a detective team to make sure internetluv isn’t a fishcat? If you do it together it isnt’ that weird… I think?
You must, must, must, approach this from a position of your own concerns, and not from a place of “you are being stupid and I know more than you.” Yes — you probably do have the upper hand on the knowledge end of things because love makes people’s eyeballs and heartballs all wonky and less reliable. HOWEVER, with the slightest suggestion of “i know more than you,” your friend’s ears will close and their feeling meter will instantly flip to angry/defensive.
I agree with Dannielle’s suggestion of a team effort — and this doesn’t have to mean a team spy effort, exclusively. Your friend is in love, which means they make not be entirely up for the idea of digging around with a spyglass and such (although that does sound like a total blast). Your team effort might just mean that you position yourself as the proud yet worrisome friend who needs a little more reassurance because you care about your friend’s heart so very much.
Just say something like, “I am so, so happy for you and I can’t wait until we both get to meet Juan Benjamin.” Then your friend will be like, “What do you mean when WE get to meet Juan Benji??” Then you’ll be like, “LISTEN, I WORRY ALL THE TIME AND IM SURE THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE BUT I’VE SEEN A LOT OF MOVIES AND YOU MEAN THE WORLD TO ME SO I JUST WANT TO BE THERE TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS FINE AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE MEETING IN A PUBLIC PLACE AND PLEASE DON’T HATE ME DO YOU HATE ME CAN I JUST BE THERE FOR TEN MINUTES THANKS OKAY PHEWF.” Then collapse in a heap of friend-effort.
I don’t even know if your friend plans to meet Juan Benji anytime soon, but this will at least open up the conversation that you love your friend, you are happy for them, and you want to make sure they are safe (and that their heart is safe, too!).
If this is a situation where only feelings are at risk, be as supportive and as honest as possible without getting too involved.
IMPORTANT: If this is a situation where addresses or personal details are being exchanged, or they plan to meet, you either have a conversation with your friend explaining why that cannot and should not happen until they can be sure of this person’s intentions OR you immediately talk to someone else and make them aware of the situation.