Like many people, on Wednesday nights I eagerly turned on MTV to watch Catfish. But unlike most, I have actually been in a similar situation. When watching the show, I’ve felt bad for some of the people doing the Catfish—I know how upset and self-conscious you have to be to create a fake profile on social media. I know this because I Catfished someone.
During the beginning of my freshman year, I was not into underage drinking or hooking up like my friends were, and grew apart from many of these people because of the differences in our social lives. I was lonely, and I had issues with my self-confidence. At the time, many of my schoolmates were dating, and I couldn’t get a single guy to look at me. I hit the point where I didn’t want to be myself; I wanted to be someone, anyone else—so I created a fake MySpace profile using pictures from a girl I had seen on YouTube. I used my real name and my real city in the biography, but I added a couple years to my age.
I spent an entire day making albums for “me” and setting up an entire profile with the fake pictures. I added my real MySpace account as a friend on this new one, and when I logged out, I had one friend. The next day I woke up with over 50 friend requests, from both guys and girls around my fake age and in my city. I added them back and continued to receive requests and messages just to chat. I started messaging back and forth, getting to know these people. I created friendships and inside jokes with so many new “friends.” I had so much fun sharing my deepest, darkest secrets and thoughts. No one judged me. I could be the person I was on the inside with these people because they didn’t care.
One day when I logged in, I had received a friend request from a guy named Gary. He was around 19 years old and was super cute, with these amazing hazel and green eyes. I added him, and we messaged back and forth for quite a while. He was the best person I’ve ever talked to. He was so smart and funny, calling me sweet names and complimenting me. We exchanged phone numbers a few weeks after talking and started to text, but since I only had 250 texts a month, we started having nightly phone calls.
We would talk every single night about random things, like wanting to have big families, his job at Best Buy, or my school. As we started getting closer and closer, I stopped messaging other people on my MySpace page—I only wanted to talk to Gary. He told me he really liked me and wanted to hang out with me. That was when I knew I was in too deep. We only lived about 20 minutes away from each other, but he didn’t really know who I was. He couldn’t meet the girl in the pictures, and I was sure he didn’t want the real me. I lied to him and told him I was going to school in California and moving away in a few weeks. He was hurt, but he thought that we could still meet one day.
We continued to have our deep conversations over the phone every night, and then, after weeks of these nightly phone calls, we began to call each other in the morning, too. It got to the point where I was falling asleep on the phone around 12:00 a.m. and then waking up at 5:00 a.m. to call him before I went to school. After a few months of talking on the phone every single day, he told me that he was in love with me, and he trusted me so much he wanted to tell me about his ex-girlfriend. Gary told me his last girlfriend had lied to him and told him she was 17. After they had dated for a while, he found out she was really 15. He was extremely upset because he had been so honest with her while she had been deceiving him throughout their relationship. This made me feel extremely guilty—I was doing the same exact thing his ex had done. I was dishonest to Gary during our entire “relationship.” The part that hurt me the most was that I knew I had to end it, and the only way I knew how to do it was to stop talking to him. This was very hard for me because I was honestly and truly in love with Gary.
I deleted the fake MySpace page and left him a voicemail telling him I couldn’t continue our relationship anymore because I hadn’t been honest with him. I didn’t tell him I had used fake pictures. He left me voicemails and texts asking me why and what he had done. I tried to avoid these pleadings, but eventually had to answer him and beg him to stop calling. It didn’t work, so I told my parents I was receiving unwanted calls, and they had my number changed. That was the last time I had any contact with Gary.
Five years later, I still think about Gary every single day. I had never felt so much remorse before, nor have I since. It’s not an excuse, but at the time I didn’t understand what I was doing to him. I know now how wrong I was. I played with his feelings and I treated him so badly. Although we have never met, I believe Gary was my first love. I want to apologize, but I’m afraid of the repercussions. I know there are ways for me to contact him—I still remember his last name—but I do not know if I could ever do it.
I plan on going away to college and putting this all behind me. I’ve never told anyone this story and now that I have gotten it out, I feel like I can move on.
I’m not sure if it is hypocritical of me, but this situation has made me very wary about trusting others, especially on the Internet. I find myself more reserved around strangers and it has become very difficult to be confident. This situation has changed me, and I know I’ll never do anything similar again.