Friday 18 September 2020

Curiosity killed the catfish....who were you Fred?

For approximately 18 months, I was chatting to a man on Instagram. Lets refer to him as "Fred"....

So Fred, requested me as a friend on Instagram, which initially I rejected as I had no idea who he was. He later re requested me and I thought ok, why not, one life and all that and it kind of seems the way of the world now.

He introduced himself as "Fred" and stated that he was trying to get followers as had set up a new interior design business. We got to know each other fairly well and strangely started to consider him as a friend, which in heinsight is pretty crazy as I never once met him in real life, never spoke to him on the phone and in fact I never even had his telephone number as he always made excuses that, at the time, felt reasonable that his phone was broken. 

We messaged each other frequently. there was nothing romantic about it, just someone to chat to. He spoke to me about his business, his sisters, friends and his ex. In return I opened up and told him about certain relationships and my work etc. We both offered a listening ear when life got tough or had times of joy.

On a couple of occasions we were very close to meeting, but with one thing or another it never happened.  

This "friendship" went on for a long time, until one day he disclosed that he had been lying to me about the fact he was still with his ex. I felt quite betrayed and annoyed by this as I had spent endless messages chatting to him about how he had been affected by her and the "toxic" relationship that he had been in.

It was at this point when the penny started to drop and I questioned if he actually was who he said he was. At the time I had a lodger, who was more into technology and social media than myself. We decided to try and find out a little more about Fred.

After my lodger searched the net for his pictures and his company name and me going through Fred's friends/ followers it became apparent that all was not as it seemed. 

My lodger noticed that Fred's business was not a registered company, the logo and some of the interior design work professed to have been done by Fred's company was that of an American company. Fred's followers and friends list was limited but I did notice something quite bizarre. He was following one of my ex boyfriends ex girlfriends who didn't even live in the UK, he was also following some of my friends and even one of my nieces. 

He had a partner for his business, but it appeared to be set up by Fred and neither account had many followers. There were conversations between the two accounts which almost seemed like the same person talking to themselves. Also both accounts were "private" and for me if you are trying to advertise a new business why would your account be private?

I started to think back about conversations that we'd had over the 18 months and he had questioned me about an ex and who the girl he'd had an affair with was. It all became a little too much and I was indeed feeling quite foolish into who the hell I had been talking with for the last 18 months.

Following on from this I messaged him and stated that I didn't believe he was who Fred said he was and questioned in fact if he was an interior designer. I then went on to block him. I felt quite sick and violated that I could have potentially been catfished and wanted to know and find out who the hell the real Fred was.

So with the help of my lodger we set up a fake interior designer account and logo. We knew that this wasn't a job to be rushed as I needed Fred to take the bait so I could find out who he really was.

I started to request/follow people that were on his account so it would look like we had mutual interests. I set myself up as an interior designer. It was hard graft and too be honest one that I couldn't really be bothered with but I felt quite annoyed that I had been lied to for so long and the fact that his account didn't appear authentic also blew my mind and so I persisted. 

It became very boring having to make myself look interested in interior design and at times I would veer off and look at other accounts and other things for nothing more than entertainment as I was so bored. It also fell at a time when I think now I probably had mild covid -19 symptoms so was just sat with nothing else to do than to go on Instagram.

Eventually Fred took the bait and messaged me, I stated that I was a new business and hoped to make connections. I asked him about his business but he was a bit vague just saying starting a new business was difficult.

My plan to ask more about where he actually lived, his name and basic identity was on the way and I would hopefully start to find peace safe in the knowledge of who Fred actually was and who I had invested 18 months of my energy towards.

Whilst this process was very dull I will admit I used to look up people I once knew. If they had open accounts it passed the time being curious into how they lived their lives now. In fact it was like almost watching tv, like some form of reality show/entertainment, but I guess that is what social media is. Some people literally documented their lives it was like reading a story book! It did pass the time whilst biding my time to find out who the hell Fred was.

I am not one for social media and in fact barely understand how it works, I didn't realise that people were notified if you looked at certain parts of their public accounts on Instagram.

Unfortunately due to this fact I received a rather unexpected message from someone who's account I had been looking at in my state of boredom, I felt immediate panic and ended up responding to the message, coming out with some bollocks of actually having similar interests. This of course was complete tripe as my objective of having this account was actually to find out who the hell Fred was and I was just passing the time looking at their and other public accounts.

This stressed me out rather a lot and I decided to deactivate this Instagram account to stop any more crap from escalating, as my objective was not to be a catfish myself but to find out who my catfish was. I would have to swallow the hard pill of never finding out who my catfish Fred was and throw in the towel to finding out his true identity due to unforeseen circumstances of being questioned at looking at certain public profiles. 

The repercussions of looking at public profiles of people I once knew also made me feel pretty shit as my reasons for looking were out of curiosity and boredom whilst actually trying to find out who the hell I had spent 18 months chatting to, nothing more and not what it appeared like to others, despite what they thought.

So indeed curiosity killed the catfish and I have never found out who the hell Fred was.

Morals of he story:

1) If you suspect you are being Catfished, do not try to investigate yourself....ask the professionals (The programme Catfish)

2) If bored don't be curious about other people's public profiles, it is deemed as being obsessed not bored and curious. Although I do question why social media and public accounts do exist if not for looking at?

3) Don't except friend requests from strangers and do not respond to or message people you do not want to engage in conversation with.

But none of this actually matters now, as I have decided that I really don't need to find out who the real Fred is. It was an experience and one that I have learnt from. Fred knew I wrote a blog, so if you are reading this Fred, I wish you well who ever you are!

I always knew social media was dangerous and causes so much trouble, maybe that is why I have never really learnt how to use it correctly. I am no longer on social media, not even to promote my blog anymore because do we really know who the hell is the other side of the screen??? Welcome to the twilight zone of social media ..... 

Who wears the trousers?

I have spent a lot of time reflecting upon what and why it hasn't worked out with the majority of my exes and having spoken to my mum and read god knows how many books and articles on relationships. I finally feel like I know the answer. People have always said it must be a certain type that I go for, which I have always replied "no" as they have all been very different. 

After years of attempting to find the answer and years falling for the same type of men I now feel total comfort knowing I have my answer. 

Now this theory, I would say applies to all exes minus 3. It comes down to the way I have been bought up and view men and what type of role they have in a relationship.

I have grown up with older generation parents, having been the youngest of 5 children and there being quite an age gap between me and the next sibling in age. 

My parents are what I would describe as quite "traditional" to the western family. My dad worked 2 jobs, whilst my mum stayed at home and looked after the children and had a part time job as I got older. My dad took care of the finances whilst my mum cooked and cleaned. It is what I knew to be the norm of how relationships were. This is neither a right or wrong way to live in a relationship but it is what I have been used to. My dad was the dominant male and although my mum wasn't needy, as was quite independent in certain aspects. It seemed to work well. They have been married since 1959, so they have obviously been doing something right. One way of looking at it is that my dad certainly wore the trousers in the relationship. 

They are from a generation that fixed things and didn't have the attitude we consume now of the throw away society. Back then things were made and built to last far longer than things are now. That goes for not only relationships but electrical goods, furniture, clothes amongst other things! 

All but a few relationships I have had the majority of the men I have dated/been in long term relationships with have been bought up in a very different environment to myself. 

Often it appears from the outside, as no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, it appears that the mothers in the relationship seem to "wear the trousers". It appears that the dads of the family have taken the back seat and it seems that the mothers have ruled the roost. They seem to be the ones who take control of the finances, book the holidays and organise the family and make most of the decisions.

Is this a generational thing? Perhaps. But another contributing factor is that the parents have split up, been single mum's for a while, on their second or even third marriage. So the mother has had no choice to become independent and rule her own roost, so the dads then potentially just let the women get on with it for an easy life? I don't know I am just speculating.

For there is no right or wrong way to be bought up and certainly no rule to who wears the trousers so to speak.

I know now a days that the role of the woman in the family has changed dramatically, is this down to society influence? or personal preference? or both?

For me, I seem to have ended up in relationships with men that have grown up where the mother wears the trousers and is in control I guess. They appear to have learnt that it is easier to take the back seat, albeit not all the time but for the best part of making decisions, organising things etc. 

For me, I am quite happy to organise holidays, days out, nights out, phone restaurants etc but because it almost became expected that I would do it I think deep within me I started to feel resentment as I grew up with a man doing most if these things and when the past relationships didn't do this it caused problems. 

I am not saying that they never organised things, far from it. I have had a few surprises but generally speaking it landed in my lap. For many women this is great and they cant see a problem with this, maybe because they have been bought up by a different generation or their nuclear family has broken down enabling the woman to become the dominant? Like I said there is no right or wrong way but what I do know is that I do not ever want to be a with a man who has been bought up this way as it isn't what I want.

I have a very close male friend and people ask all the time why we aren't together. Despite the fact I see him as a brother, he is certainly a man that enables the women to wear the trousers for an easy life. If we make plans it is usually down to me. He will say things like "You book it and I will give you the money". "You decide". I have spoken to him about this and he thinks i could be on to something. His mother was the dominant as his father sadly ended his life when he was a child. He disclosed that his past relationships were usually driven by the female.  He stated that although he loved them at the time, they were quite bossy (in the nicest way) which might go with the fact that they were more in control and wore the trousers!

I see these differences in relationships all the time, I observe who wears the trousers and see how being bought up a certain way can impact upon future building blocks and "unwritten rules" in relationships. 

In a relationship I require a man to be wearing the trousers most of the time, not for me to do it for them. If it takes someone to be of autocractic character to wear the trousers then that isn't for me.

Obviously there is give and take but I know for a fact that I don't want to wear the trousers, it is not for me. Been there and been forced to take that role and it causes a massive rift. If I had realised this years ago I think it might have saved an awful lot of heartache. 

Some men like to be dominant some men prefer the woman to take control and vise versa for women. There is no right or wrong. 

Can both wear the trousers?...Not really, in most relationships whether friendships or romantic relationships, humans or even animals there is usually one more dominant one of the family/group/partnership.

Establishing which role you are early on in a relationship could certainly make life more relaxed.

After thinking about it long and hard I believe I have experienced 3 relationships where the men wore the trousers and were the dominant in the relationship. I felt zero resentment in these relationships, over organising and decision making and they worked well. The reasons why they didn't work were not down to who wore the trousers that's for sure.

Maybe I am old fashioned like my parents......or .... maybe I am just looking for my very own Mr Grey! 

The good, the bad and the "you don't look like your profile"

Internet dating is by far the strangest concept nowadays, as you can read in my post "Dating in the 21st Century" and I am really not a huge fan of it, however, sadly in this day and age it seems like the only way to meet someone.

I have been on many 1st dates that have derived from internet dating, some have led to second dates, some have led to a few weeks of dating, some months of dating, a couple of relationships and others well lets just say I am glad that I never had to see them ever again!

Dating is an absolute mind field and you never really know what the hell to expect. I know that I would rather meet early on instead of sending and receiving messages of aimless chit chat for weeks, you know how I feel about that... see chit chat post! I would rather just get on with meeting up to fathom if indeed there is a spark in real life. 

I have had some absolute fantastic first dates with some genuinely nice guys, but soon realised that they are more friend material than partner materiel.

I have had some fabulous weekends away, days out, lovely meals, laughs, dancing, walks and drinks.

Some of the nicest first dates were a picnic in a field, a trip to wales and of course a good old fashioned pub for a few drinks. I have been to the Sealife Centre, dog walking, Crazy Golf, Safari Park and even to Tenerife and Lanzarote on first dates!

But some of the most memorable ones are the ones that didn't quite turn out to plan...

I have had men turn up that are very angry and actually disclose they require anger management, women haters, loud/shouty men, too shy to talk men, men that do not eat after 2pm in the afternoon - not so great when you are starving on a date and it is 4pm! 

I have had a man drip with excessive sweat from anxiety, stolen sweets, showed up with food debris in their teeth. Smelly men, rude men, men who hate animals - yes that ones says a lot. Drunk men, men that don't drink, men who have never seen a toothbrush, men that turn up in flash cars and men that show up on skateboards. Men who look like they have been homeless for a month and never seen a washing machine, off their head men (on amphetamines) and the worst of all men that do not look anything like their pictures in every way....lied about their height/weight, the pictures were filtered, the pictures are 15 years old, lied about their age. 

One man turned up to my house so drunk he could barely stand up, I ushered him off to the local pub and left. Another man sat swiping on Tinder whilst I was sat with him! One dates teeth were so splattered with what looked like the remains of bread and mayo combo, it was so vile to look at I decided to get drunk so I no longer could focus on his dirty teeth.

Teeth are a huge factor for me and I know that not everyone in life is lucky enough to have a straight, white set of pearls but it can be a game changer for me. I no longer swipe on people who never smile without teeth on show in at least one picture, because from experience if you cant see their pearly whites in any pictures the chances are that they either have no, brown or just terrible teeth. I no I shouldn't judge on oral hygiene and we all have standards, but that is one standard I refuse to lower! One guy turned up and he had teeth like he had been addicted to crystal meth for at least 4 years....he never smiled showing teeth in any pictures. 

It was just before lockdown and toilet rolls were like gold dust and so the date who was travelling to see me quite a distance to my house asked if he could get me anything from the services on the way.... due to the crazy pandemic I asked for a packet of toilet roll as I had been unable to get any from my local shop, so I was expecting a 4 pack and instead I received what only looked like a dirty, minging stained half used roll stolen from the service station toilet, now I am not a toilet roll snob by all means and I know that beggars cant be choosers in a pandemic but I am sure that that toilet roll actually gave me covid - 19 ...needless to say it went in the bin as looked contaminated (shudders).

I have indeed walked out on dates, ran away from dates, hidden from dates and made THAT emergency phone call. I have done the unforgivable thing of ghosting and blocking certain men....although I learnt that actually it is better and far nicer to send a quick message to say thanks but no thanks.  

Is it easier to be sober or merry or drunk? to have dinner? to starve? to do an activity? On a personal level I prefer to have a couple of drinks, but not to have any more, as the seemingly unhandsome, boring man sat before me can start to become desirable...which inevitably ends in disaster and an uncomfortable snog at the end. It can be fun to engage in activity and I must admit I prefer to eat on a first date as if nothing else to talk about you can discuss the menu!

I feel that I should be an expert at the dating scene, but each first date is an entirely new experience from the last. I rarely worry about what I am going to wear anymore and have certain clothes in my wardrobe set aside for first dates depending on where the date takes place. More often than not comfortable, as I have learnt that the "sexy" flashing too much skin only gives one impression! I like to leave some things to their imagination!

I really have no idea as to why people think that it is ok to not look like their profile pictures, why would you want to give a false impression of yourself? 

My online profile pictures are up to date and a combination of full length, head and shoulders and are unfiltered. I can not see the point in filtering for the person I am meeting to be disappointed that I am not flawless! 

In fact I am the worlds worst at selfies and have no idea what angle, lighting etc I should be taking these pictures. I have had the same comment from many men that I actually look better in real life than my pictures! Now, this is nice as obviously great to feel that way on a date, but not so great trying to get a date based on my not so great pictures in the first place!

So what do these men hope to achieve from not looking like their pictures? Are they hoping that I am partially sighted or that I will ignore that they are a foot shorter/taller and have different hair and 20lbs different in weight to the person I swiped on in the picture? Are they hoping that I will fall in love with their lying personalities?! I personally prefer the "verified" profiles now a days, at least that way you know that you aren't going to be meeting someone totally different! But do all people verify....I think not. It is a battlefield.

So before you set up a profile, please people make sure the pictures are at least true to life as you can get them....