Don't let the bottom feeding fish take your bait

We chart a course to help you navigate the perilous online dating shoals

Casper the catfish

Let's face it, for digital nomads and expats, dating is a lot like a fishing expedition in strange, murky waters. You carefully select what you hope is the right lure, toss your line out in the water, and prey that you snag a prize. Only, if you're not careful, instead of a "catch", a bottom feeding fish takes off with your bait you end up with a slimy-ass catfish!
Here's a few tips from an old, wily fisherman to help you increase your chances of a successful haul:
  1. If you're a bottom fisher, you'll end up with a bottom feeder
  2. If you're looking for a long-term relationship, it stands to reason that you won't find it on one of the dating sites that cater to quick hook-ups. Sites like Tinder, Badoo, and Tagged are great for one-night stands, but not the best place to look for a serious relationship. While it may be tempting to go for that quick hook-up and hope she decides to stick around, don't be surprised if your Henriette takes off in the morning to find her next Casanova.
  3. If she heads straight for your line, toss her back
  4. When an experienced fisherman snags a game fish with no fight in it, he simply throws it back in the pond. This is also what you should do whenever a woman takes the initiative to message you out of the blue on one of the dating sites. If she's not in your local area, you've got to ask yourself why she picked you out of the hundreds of other eligible bachelors? There may at times be a valid reason: the two of you could e.g. share a common interest in 16th century Inuit whale penis carvings or perhaps she just fell for your rugged good looks and baby blue eyes. For the rest of us mortals, however, it's usually the sign of a scammer.
  5. Don't swim in shark-infested waters
  6. This should be common sense, but if you're new to the online dating scene, it's not always apparent. How do you know if that prized catch tugging on your line is a shark?:
    • She's got a paid account. If you're in a third-world country, you'll find that most of the women can only afford a free account. Those who can afford to pay for an account often tend to be professional scammers. Be especially wary if she's in a big city and her profile photos appear posed or professionally made.
    • She has multiple profiles. Before things get serious, you should always check whether your girl has multiple profiles. Simply do a general search in her local area within a wide age range, keeping in mind that most women aren't going to make themselves older than they really are (e.g. if her profile says she's 35, search for 25–40), and look for any matching profile photos. Pay attention to any differences between the profiles (e.g. one says that she's looking for a serious relationship while the other says she's looking for a casual hook-up). If it's not simply a case of forgetting to delete an old profile, walk away – it's a sure sign that she's playing games.

  7. Don't get Googley-eyed
  8. Automated translation software has come a long, long way. It's in fact so good nowadays that you may find that the woman you've been chatting with over the past month doesn't speak a word of English! This has happened to yours truly, and when my date and I finally met in person, the ensuing silence was both awkward and embarrassing. The solution is very easy: simply make sure you chat with her on the phone before agreeing to meet in person.

  9. Game fish aren't worth the trouble
  10. If you don't mind that she's nibbled on everyone else's worm and are just looking for a good time, then you can safely disregard this point. But if you're looking for a serious relationship and her profile says "It's complicated", you should know that this is a common euphemism for: "I'm cheating on somebody else."

  11. If she keeps taking your bait, move on to the next one.
  12. So you've been chatting for months with a real "catch" who's eager to meet you in person, but each time you make plans to visit, something comes up at the last minute and she's not available? Chances are, there's a sick family member or relative who desperately needs your help to pay their hospital bills. This is a page right out of the manual of a professional scammer, and you should never let yourself walk into this trap. If you meet someone on a dating site and she asks you to send her money or buy her a gift before you've met in person, you should consider it to be a huge red flag and immediately move on.

  13. Don't fall for the bait and switch!
  14. Not everything is what it appears to be on the online dating sites. It's very easy to post an old, outdated photo or photoshop your image and deduct 10-20 years from your age. That's why if you're chatting with a woman who only has a single profile photo, you can never be sure that she's not catfishing you. The way to tackle this is to ask her for everyday photos or propose that the two of you do a video chat before meeting for the first time. On some Asian dating sites, you may even be contacted by ladyboys disguised as ordinary women so make sure you know what you're getting into before you reel your catch in!

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