By | May 30, 2016 17 Comments

Catfishing – sociopathic behavior, or a phase?


catfishI was recently interviewed for an online magazine article called Confessions of a catfish. When I communicated with the author, Aris Apostolopoulos, I had no idea that he was going to admit that he, himself, once engaged in catfishing.

Quite a few Lovefraud readers have told me about their experiences being catfished. This means they met someone online who fabricated a complete false identity, including a fake name, fake history, fake friends and fake crises.

Target almost died

One woman contacted me in 2012, before the word “catfishing” had entered the lexicon, to tell me her story. She was involved with a person for almost three years, entirely on the phone and social media. Never met the guy.

In the beginning he love bombed her, sent her gifts, and liked everything that she posted on Facebook. He sent her bouquets five days in a row to convince her to be his girlfriend.

Once she was committed to the relationship, it evolved into control. He called her on the phone incessantly, belittling her with every call. He faked his own disappearance and death. The woman believed she was responsible and became so distraught that she actually had a nervous breakdown, overdosed and almost died.

She finally broke it off, realizing everything was a lie. But she contacted me again a month ago. The episode still haunts her.

Catfish as sociopath

This perpetrator, and others that I’ve heard about, have all the personality traits of a sociopath. They caused significant heartache in their targets, just for the fun of it. In my opinion, these catfishers engaged in the behavior simply to entertain themselves by exerting power and control over some random person they encounter on the Internet.

Sociopaths love playing the puppet master. They love pulling strings and watching people jump. To me, that’s what these catfishers are doing. They pretend to love someone, the person responds, and they experience the thrill of “duping delight.”

So I must admit I was perplexed when the journalist who interviewed me for the story asked, “Do you believe we are a little bit catfish ourselves? I mean, we all tell a couple of white lies when we meet a person we like online. Does that make us catfish?”

I know that many people tend to “enhance” their online dating profiles by claiming to be younger and thinner than they actually are, even posting 10- and 20-year old photos. That, to me, doesn’t qualify as catfishing.

In my mind, catfishing means creating a fake identity, and that’s the territory of spies and sociopaths, and I don’t know any spies.

Confessions of a catfish

So imagine my surprise when I found my comments in an article in which the author admitted a previous life as a catfish. He wrote that he knew it was wrong, but only built a fake online persona to make himself feel better.


Do people really do this? People who are not disordered, who are perhaps suffering from low self-esteem, create imaginary identities to attract friends and lovers?

Aris, the author, relayed his experience, which occurred before he went to college. He also gave the example of a young woman who, at age 17, fell in love with the prom king, who didn’t know that she existed.

I notice that both of these people where in high school when they created the catfishing profiles. Does that mean it’s a phase? Something kids do while they’re still sorting out their identities, and they later grow out of?

The Internet didn’t exist when I was in high school, so I don’t have first-hand experience with this phenomenon. Social media has created an entire new dimension of interaction between people. So is catfishing sociopathic behavior, or a phase? Or is it “normal” behavior among teenagers, but “abnormal” among adults?

I’d love to hear your views.

Read Confessions of a catfish, on


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These “cat fishers” type have personality disorders. Low self esteem does not turn you into a malicious person. You are either born that way or not. The High school mean girl type vs a normal person.

I just watched a show on the lengths that cat fishers will go to and the entire show I thought to myself these people are all sociopaths. Cat fishers are running a con game!! Who runs con games = Sociopaths!!

The fact Donna that this guy Aris did not fully disclose to you prior to interviewing you that he was once a cat fisher is a HUGE HUGE RED FLAG into his personality!! He was fishing for info from you Donna because he knows he is not normal. He knows that he has a very dark side which is not normal.

Once again he was hiding the truth about who he was during his interview with you. He has not stopped his bad behavior. He did not reflect on what he did to others by cat fishing them and say to himself “from here on out I will always tell the truth no matter what”… he was still lying when he interviewed you by omission.

Omission is a form of lying = abuse = purposeful manipulation = con game!!

These people maliciously want to manipulate the person on the other end of the computer. Manipulation is a form of abuse. They want to abuse people & they want to control the person & have power over them.

Power & control is what sociopaths ultimately want.

Such a scary world we live in.

Rosie Jackson

“Catfishing” is a sociopaths dream come true!
I know of someone who is on every single dating website imaginable! On the Christian dating sites he can be “born again”, on the Jewish sites he’can be a devout Jew, on the New Age or “Spiritual” sites he can be “Mr. Namaste” and on and on….
He trolls these sites from the comfort of his home and with the anonymity that the Internet allows. His “prey” can be carefully screened – for their gullibility, vulnerability and, of course, their money. The game is played without the risk of the prey ever actually having to see him until he has them fully duped and “committed” to a “relationship” with him. Face to face encounters can quickly escalate into short lived (before his mask slips!) sexual liasons wherein this social predator has access to the prey’s financial and personal information which, in addition to sexual gratification, was this predator’s prime motive all along. The prey usually has no idea that while she was taking a post-coital shower, he was “taking inventory” and digging into her closet, desk or filing cabinet for her bank account information, her diary, her social security number and anything else he might use to rip her off, blackmail, or otherwise exploit her.
And then it’s on to the next victim……
Be careful out there in “cyberspace”, people.
It can be a very dangerous place.


My S/exh catfished me after we divorced. He made up a fake profile on a dating website and contacted me through it. We chatted for a couple of weeks, and there were signs from the get-go. So I was suspicious, but kept having reasons to dismiss it. So yeah, it’s definitely in the Sociopath 101 manual. Just not sure if you can put everyone in that box, since some people really are just looking for the attention and just selfishly don’t think about how it affects other people.


Sorry to be another downer person, but I do have a resource below that would help out — but Hey! It’s stupid, blind, and amazing that people can “fall in love” with a person on the INTERNET for years, or even months. And how about falling in love some someone in a far away state, or even a different COUNTRY? Weird. Strange behavior. What’s with anyone who would do that? I assume that they are sad and lonely. So, I say get out there and make some contacts. Having boundaries about who/where you will meet someone are important. I live in a city with over a million people. Rule #1 for me was, I would not date anyone who was not local, IN MY OWN CITY. I met a guy online and we’ve been togethere 4 years. He treats me well, and is the first and only man who has. Here’s a book with how to do find friends, and men: A book I got a lot out of (but disagreed with some of the author’s advice, particularly her misuse of her mistake theory of animal behavior as an example of how we need to act — complete balderdash) is “Searching for Courtship” by Winifred B. Cutler. She has tons of ideas about how and where to meet guys safely. And how to terminate a possible relationship one is not comfortable with. Also how to tread other women, so you are not “at war” with women. But one thing I do not like about Cutler’s advice is what she calls “perching” and that we need to be what I know is old fashioned – not be our real selves, but appear weak and helpless. I actually tried her approach about perching and being ultra “feminine” and waiting for a guy in a dance class to approach me. It worked fine until I “came out” as who I really am — wow, did he split fast.


I was catfished twice. The first was a verified sociopath. The second was a diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. Both were verified narcissists.
This is a great activity for a narcissist to get attention. You would need to be pretty desperate to do something so time consuming. The reward is shallow, as the victim really doesn’t actually love you, but the person you invented. It’s about as rewarding as having a trophy not because you won it, but because you stole it out of the trophy shop! How shallow. Surely, this will only work for someone convinced it’s the ONLY way he will ever get a “trophy”. Your self esteem needs to be in the gutter to even want such a meaningless reward. I wouldn’t want it. Why settle? These people are settling because it’s the best they can do. Your author friend wrote his article to make himself feel like less of a loser than he actually is. Trying to justify wrongdoing is so sad.
Yes, he was a catfish. Is it a juvenile phase? We can only hope. My catfish were 59 and 54. Was that a phase? I’m sure the length of the phase varies for each fish, from a year or less, to a lifetime. God help these pitiful creatures.


Dear Donna,
If i am allowed, i want to share this site i found recently that expands on personality disorders and offers an explanation i am not capable to write as eloquently since i am not a mental health professional:
The thing that gave me extreme validation on this site is that the expert writes: dishonesty is the common key factor in all character disturbance.
I am 30 years old now. Back in 2012 i was reading the story of that woman who met this monster online and was crying hysterically. I want to thank you for posting it. It helped saving me from a similar predator and catfish.
I was always a big fan of japanese culture and i met ”jin” on fakebook. He pretended to be japanese and a musician and we were in an on and off ”relationship” for 2 years. He convinced me to learn japanese and go to be with him in japan. Jin had 12 friends that didnt approve of me and were constantly abusing me. To make a long story short he convinced me to tell my narcissistic mother about him ”to make it official” and the next day after i told him he disappeared. Profile erased, everything. I was beyond devastated and my monster mother uses this story as ammunition to prove to everyone i am mentally unstable since i date fake profiles.
Most shoking thing is i found out a year after that the 12 friends profile were all operated by jin. What a sick individual!
My life was destroyed for the next 2 years. After some very painful time i moved on and years after i got contacted (on fakebook AGAIN!) by some romanian guy claiming to be jin! He said ”he is sorry” and ”he is lonely, he loved japan but could never visit and because he was attracted to me and thought i wanted only japanese men he created the fake guy”.
I told him i accept his apology, but i won’t be in contact with him anymore and i am off fakebook now. The best part: soon after NEW fake profiles of japanese artists appeared! He didn’t changed at all and he is still trolling for victims. I reported them and fb took them down but i am sure he will just make new ones. He is some freak with no life and no remorse and his sorry was a hoovering.
Dear Donna please don’t make this aris scumbag comments and twisting of the truth make you doubt your perception. You are indeed older than us (in a way i would see a capable older sister, not some relic of the past) but please remember good people are good in every generation since kindness and honesty are universal and non changed concepts.
After Jin i continued learning japanese. I have 2 degrees now. My goal is to live in japan one day and go no contact with my narcissistic abusive mother which i believe is the reason i am susceptible to emotional manipulators and predators. I have the same love for japan Jin has but i try to act it out in a healthy way, not making fake profiles and victimized unsuspecting vulnerable people.
In my non-professional opinion all those catfishes are mentallu disordered lazy losers who want things other people have (like the predator who made Sonia’s account, who wants admiration as a pretty woman but she is not willing to work hard on her looks, body, personality etc) and yet she feels ENTITLED to steal it.
I am sorry i wrote so much. One final thing: is that ok to give us an update on the girl involved with the fake guy? (If she allows it ofc). I consider her sister in arms against those monster and it makes me really sad that she is still impacted.
Congratulations on your amazing site and work ethics.

Cara C

I think anyone who is a serious catfish is disordered. These people purposely seek victims to exploit and create elaborate online labyrinths to trap their victims. They tell terrible lies, manipulate, emotionally abuse, and either enjoy or are indifferent to the distress they cause their victims.

But I think there are people who pretend to be other people online for various reasons – for the fun of adopting another personality with a more exciting life, for the security of not revealing their true identity to strangers, or because they don’t have the looks to get the attention their hot fake online picture generates.

These people might set out to simply to have some harmless fun or flirty conversations without considering that someone might bond to their fake persona. If they do make a connection, they might have a hard time telling the other person the truth because they’ll lose him or her, so they continue the charade until it comes to a head. But it’s not a fun game for them; they’ve trapped themselves in a dilemma. So they can do damage. But that wasn’t their intention, and they aren’t happy about or indifferent to any pain they’re causing.

It makes sense that young people would be more likely than mature people to catfish. Teens often experiment with different personas in real life as they mature. They’re less likely to be able to determine the consequences of their actions. Peer acceptance is critical to them and if they can’t get it in life, they might go catfish to try to get it online. They are often self-centered, which some studies indicate is developmentally normal.

My guess is that older people who catfish are more likely to be disordered than teens, who might just be immature.


Donna and all, Although I have never been “catfished” I have been in many abusive relationships, starting with my dad. I think I am over that now, finally! But I have bought your course “The Basics: Love Fraud and How to Avoid It.” I think learning how to avoid it is the best protection, if one is not currently in a fraud situation.


Film about catfishing — hey, see “Mr. Wrong.” It’s amazing how the guy “mines” info from the woman (played by Ellen DeGeneres) and they exploits her. He has everyone she knows, including her parents, convinced he’s the perfect match for her, while she is going “nutso”


Mistype: they [should read “then”] exploits her


HI Donna
your questions are good & this is such a complicated subject that you could do you a few PhD’s on it ,,,

There are many variables and the anonymity that the internet offers to many people as a form of escape, or to creates their dream persona…and it is not necessarily sociopathic
…but could be, its a complex subject.

Many people never have any plans of ever meeting in person,,,
many text each other its like thinking out loud ,,with some feedback or they might Skype ???

If they are actively
“catfishing” for money or manipulating to harm some one else that is different ,,,,if they say they are a bit younger or maybe have a change the age or other stats to meet some one or at least to be their on line friend that is a grayer area…

I used to have a roommate that worked sex tel on the 1 800 lines
she would say on the tel at work that she was 6 ft tall & blond & blue eyed when she was African American 5 feet & very dark ..was she a sociopath? no,,,she knew these guys wanted a fantasy & she was giving it … now its on line fantasy …

,,,half of what regular folks on face book post is a lie and mostly false….many people use it for entertainment,,,, they do not expect to be held to anything they say on line…

there are also people posting untrue statements about themselves for security reasons bc if you do post all your real information you can be easily identified and targeted by sociopaths & predators who are looking for people who are going through struggles that they can get something from…that is why we use aliases to post comments are we sociopaths bc I am using an alias?

Many professional people or folks in small towns do not want that ,,so they might say the say they live here when its over there & they are one age when its another or they have to kids when its three…. so they cant be ID’d in order to protect themselves…. is it bc they are sociopaths or liars? or is this what is needed in order to stay safe on the internet & just plain savvy?

Most of these people feel once a real connection is made well then the real info will come out, if they feel safe enough.

What is first rule kids learn?? do not give out any real info on line, yet we have a deep desire to connect & communicate with others so some people resort to posting less than real info sometimes for their own protection ….

Also with a website like this except MANY sociopaths to be attracted to it, to try & control the content or fake they are victims etc, or pretend they are some one they are not …

So I am NOT surprised that the person interviewed was a catfish himself ,,,,surprised that he shared that, probably to see your reaction.

I just think his entire persona might be made up who knows ,,its an eye spy game on line for many reasons.

The internet is also facilitates a sociopaths double life it is a playground, so much easier to get connections & pretend to be some one you are not…People are more likely to not tell the truth on line for many …many reasons.

Just be careful…this is not a simple subject
nor a black white issue…..I predict in the future there will be more fraud and more on line deception, since narcissism and lack of positive regard for others is skyrocketing some of it innocent and some of it brutal,including the hackers,
…. just my two cents.


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