Dating / Relationships

Beware the Blowfish: There’s New Type of Catfish in Town

"Blowfishing is when someone(s) lies about their lifestyle, assets, interests, abilities, or habits to gain a relationship."


Author: Cris Che Axé
Photo: Alex Iby

Catfishing is when someone(s) lies about their appearance or identity to gain a relationship. But there’s a new sneaky sheriff in town: Blowfishing. Blowfishing doesn’t involve lies about appearance or identity, but can have similarly and devastating impacts – Blowfishing is when someone(s) lies about their lifestyle, assets, interests, abilities, or habits to gain a relationship.

Here’s how the term came about: I was at the airport talking to my ex turned friend. After venting to her about a web of half-truths, and puffery she says, “I think you’ve been catfished! Remember Monica?! Just slower.”

“Slow Catfished,” I parrot back. “Slowfished.” I say with surety.
Maybe a better word: Blowfished.

My Blowfish was a beautiful almond-skinned trans-man named Damien. He had loving eyes and lips like soft pillows. He was deep, funny, kind, well-traveled, and ready to take on a new adventure. We met on Taimi, an up-and-coming queer app. I was most excited to find someone just as interested in travel as me.

I couldn’t wait to whisper sweet nothings to or talk about life with him. He felt royal and sure of himself. Even at the writing of this article, I have nothing entirely toxic to report about Damien. Just a string of letdowns that led to my being an unhappy camper in the wrong state park.

Blowfishing is when someone(s) lies about their lifestyle, assets, interests, abilities, or habits to gain a relationship.

Maya Angelou told the world, “When someone shows you who you are, believe them.” Well, in the age of the internet, fake woke, and Google therapy, no one says who they are, they just distract from who they aren’t. They lie until lying doesn’t work.

It turns out, Damien’s occasional cigarette was actually several cigarettes a day. His well-traveled facade was actually a total avoidance of driving over 15 minutes away from his house. His easy-going nature? A lack of verbal communication which often led to his acting in passive-aggressive ways. His unattached relationship style? Turns out that he recently left 9-year marriage. His complaint that I wasn’t fun? A blame-shifting tactic to hide his unmanaged substance abuse.

It took me six months before the uneasiness in my chest, my silence, and weariness to convert into a solid conclusion: Damien was nothing like he said he was. I was Blowfished.

Maya Angelou didn’t prepare me for this. Someone so inflated, so poisonous that I hadn’t noticed he was just pretending to be me in a different font. Lato Bold, anyone?

It took me six months before the uneasiness in my chest, my silence, and weariness to convert into a solid conclusion: Damien was nothing like he said he was. I was Blowfished.

If I could rework, relive, and remake the last six months, here’s what I’d do differently.

Here are three signs you are dealing with a blowfish. 

  1. You feel uneasy. I know bitch, I know. We can’t always trust ourselves. However, in the world of dating, sometimes all you have is your gut. Trust it. A rich, unbothered, white vegan woman once told me–you don’t need a reason to leave any relationship. So there you go, live your best caucasian life, follow your gut and LEAVE.
  2. The Math Aint Mathing. Damien told me he didn’t smoke much. I have asthma, so secondhand smoke is a big deal to me. The numbers were never concrete. It was after several smoke filled video chats that I came to the realization: Damien smokes a lot. Smoking could be negotiated; we could figure out ways for me not to be exposed to it. But casually lying or leaving out vital information left the truth empty and lacking–totally uncool. My suggestion, call this person out on their inconsistencies. If they begin gaslighting you, go.
  3. Twisting The Truth. Yep, that’s right, the oldest mind game in the book: gaslighting. It’s like mental kicks to the back of the knee. Your lover unsteadies you, makes you question your experience of reality. Damien did this repeatedly; he’d tell me I didn’t remember the information correctly. That what he said wasn’t what he said. That I heard what I wanted to hear. The strangest part is that no one has ever accused me of mishearing or misrepresenting facts in my relationships, friendships, or jobs. So I grounded my sanity in knowing–Damien was the anomaly. If you feel like you’re going round in round in a game of “name that fact” with no end in sight. Exit stage left.

If you’re dealing with a true blowfish he can’t stay that way for long. After exposure to a bit of pressure, my blowfish quickly deflated.

I learned from this experience to do more listening, observing, and asking questions. Never overlook inconsistencies–even the minor ones! It shouldn’t take an act of God for your potential lover’s life to make sense to you.

I was clouded by my desire to be liked and, let’s be honest, have a good old-fashioned fuck. I’ve learned, everyone worth fucking isn’t worth dating, and everyone worth dating isn’t worth partnership.

Let’s Recap.

Catfishing happens when that 31-year-old hottie turns out to be a 78-year-old man-pedophile.

No, blowfishing is much more discreet. Your blowfish will say they are a successful regional manager at Domino corporation and it turns out they are a paper-pushing prick with 1/3 of the budget and none of the skills.

Your blowfish will say they can’t wait to build a homestead in the woods yet shriek at the sight of a tiny spider.

I’m pissed for you bestie.

Now, as I sit in the middle seat on a flight back home, I know that Damien was nothing more than a Blowfish worth blowing a time or two.

About the Author: Cris Che Axé is a black, queer, non-binary person born and raised in East Oakland, CA. They spend most of their time obsessing over #SiderealAstrology, pulling cards, learning procreate, and creating queer community. All donations can be sent to @$charris829

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