What if you built an entire fantasy life, based on a future you planned with a beautiful individual you met online, only to find out that person didn’t exist. Worse, what if the person you had such a special connection with ended up being a composite of 2 people, each pulling the wool over your eyes and Catfishing you? This is exactly what happened to socialcatfish.com user Aaron, when innocently playing his favorite online game, “Game of War”.
Real Life Fantasy
While online fantasy games are one thing, before Social Catfish, Aaron had no idea that he was about to enter into a real life saga that would span the length of a year, take him through incredible highs and lows, test his character, and change what he knew of trust and relationships. By the end of the ride, Aaron would experience drama that was more along the lines of a “Game of Thrones” episode than “Game of War”. Trouble was, unlike a fictitious character in Game of Thrones, Aaron wasn’t aware that he was experiencing a psychological pull between good and evil, or that he was helping a Catfish create an epic story line which any Hollywood studio could only dream to write.
Fresh off a divorce, Aaron was merely looking to kill monsters and quest through cities and dungeons when he logged into Game of War one July evening. After saying a casual online “hello” to a friend, they began hunting for game based resources when a new person, “Lily”, approached with a resource node and introduction. Her friendliness was welcome and Aaron was drawn to Lily’s charm and polite warmth. It wasn’t long before those casual game based conversations turned into a friendship complete with daily chats through a social messaging platform. The daily consistency of having someone to talk and laugh with, share daily adventures, and confide in, provided a comfort that Aaron savored after the pain of divorce.
Falling in Love
When Lily didn’t know that Canada was a separate country than the United States, Aaron laughed off her humorous ignorance. After all, he wasn’t looking for a partner with perfect geography skills or an Ivy League education. Instead, he wanted someone who would stick by his side through thick and thin. On the surface, Lily appeared to be that person. ready and willing. The daily phone calls and messages gradually increased and helped Aaron get to know 33-year-old Lily- divorced 3 years, with blonde hair and an 80’s throwback style, as evidenced by the photograph she sent a week after they met. In it, Lily wore black and white jail striped pants, a black tank top, and photographed herself at an angle fit for an album cover. Though Aaron noticed Lily was a bit more rock n’ roll than his conservative style, he reminded himself that it was quality he was looking for in his next life partner. Lily enjoyed sending Aaron photos, usually every 3 or 4 days, with her glam rock style which made her stand out. Before long, Aaron grew enamored by the punky individuality Lily presented. Their attraction increased, though they both agreed that money and looks don’t matter as much as who someone is on the inside.
Lily confided about her past online relationships and they each spoke about their real-life ones. Not only was Lily’s screen name surrounded by hearts when Aaron received her messages, but their words grew more fond and playful. That’s also when the trouble started, as you can’t fall for a Catfish and find happily ever after.
Looking back, Aaron’s gut intuition knew before he did. Once the truth was revealed, he would often think back to that constant, nagging push and pull he couldn’t quite put his finger on. The sense of being off balance and waiting, he would never forget the torturous waiting.
Sometimes Lily would be friendly and effervescent. Even though they hadn’t met in person, they would often have tender, funny, or intimate moments. Other times, answers and conversation came slow, with long gaps in between. During phone calls, Aaron would find Lily didn’t answer many of his questions and he’d have to repeat his comments 3 different times. Or, when he texted a follow-up question to something they’d talked about verbally, Lily would avoid answering altogether. Though frustrating at times, Aaron chalked it up to distracted misunderstanding and forgave Lily readily when she would giggle and apologize. Aaron didn’t know that preying on the goodwill of others is how schemers and Catfish thrive.
Part of the Family
It was clear it was progressing into love even before Lily said the words. The affirmation was welcome and reiterated by Aaron, who knew that he now had to meet this woman in person. He began to prioritize their meeting face to face and arranging plans. After-all Lily seemed to be his love match for keeps. When Lily asked if Aaron would consider adopting a boy who lived in the foster care system next door as a ward of the state, he agreed. Lily successfully completed the guardianship process, ready to bring the first boy in the new family they would share with Lily’s two daughters.
Lily’s troubled past didn’t bother him.
How her abusive ex-husband would tie her to a kitchen chair and draw black sharpie lines on her body, to point out her flaws. Or solicit her girlfriends for loud unabashed sex while she was torturously forced to watch. Aaron felt the agony of the assaults Lilly described- from beatings to rape- and how the stress left her health in shambles. Not only Lily had been diagnosed with cancer and needed two operations, she also had Lupus and was prone to seizures. She was trying to fight for custody and have the judge grant her permission to leave the state and move nearer to Aaron. Yet, there was always something. Her parents had both recently suffered from heart attacks. There were also delayed court hearings with her ex-husband. Or, Lily’s sister became pregnant with twins from an affair with a married doctor and committed suicide, as discovered by Lily’s eight-year-old daughter.
Aaron wrapped up the loose financial ends from his own divorce so he could give himself wholly to this new relationship. Still, the ongoing saga didn’t cease.
Lily called up Aaron crying. She now had cancerous cells and needed a hysterectomy. They couldn’t meet until she was healed as she wanted to look her best, that would be a minimum of two months… Aaron understood, as you do when you love someone.
Then, during surgery, the doctor nicked Lily’s bladder and it would take another month before they could be face to face…
Help From Social Catfish
Each plan they made was followed by a cancellation as something always came up. While on trips, Lily’s Game of War account would suspiciously block Aaron, but he believed it was a mistake or oversight she never corrected after they’d had a small quarrel. Lily kept him along for the ride, even when the push and pull of emotions was crazy making.
After a year had passed Lily arrived in Seattle, WA to meet Aaron. Aaron had pushed her to the point where she had no other options but to come visit in person. Out of the blue, she canceled plans last minute and several days passed without a word. That is when Aaron took action and contacted Social Catfish.
He was floored to find that the Facebook account and phone number he knew so well, was registered to someone else entirely. This person wasn’t in Washington to visit him, they lived in Missouri.
Aaron called up his Catfish and threatened to go public with the story. That’s when the answers begrudgingly came: It turns out there was no 33-year-old Lily. Rather, “Lily” was a manufactured composite of a real life middle-aged woman and her 23-year-old daughter. The daughter had started the Catfishing and her mother took over, though the daughter still replied while she was at work. This is why so many questions were often left hanging, unanswered, as neither knew what the other had said. The mother admitted to Aaron that she and her daughters have eerily similar voices, which is how they impersonated the same person on the phone. The 23-year-old daughter briefly spoke with Aaron on video chat, to confirm her real identity and then told him to “Get the fuck over it.” as she had to get back to her boyfriend and kids. Either way, she was clearly not the person Aaron thought he loved.
Aaron has since worked hard to replace the hole in his life that was once thought a budding relationship. Recovering from feelings invested in someone that did not exist.
Have you ever been captivated or tricked by a Catfish? Let Aaron’s tale be a cautionary lesson for those of you in ongoing internet love affairs where someone is unavailable to meet or even talk on video chat. Catfish are filled with excuses, fake struggles and “crises”. They will say anything to get the reaction they want. Some are after money, others attention and many are incredibly duplicitous.
By the time Aaron caught his, he had invested a year of his life and even talked to Lily’s “family” on the phone.
Don’t waste a year of your life on Catfish.