Have you ever perused a date's profile, only to be wildly confused about their vague job in 'finance' or why they seem to never miss a photo op with a celeb? It could be that you've stumbled into a blowfisher, a fairly common species of human found on dating apps everywhere.
Not to be confused with catfishing, blowfishing is a little more subtle. Where a catfish misrepresents their looks, utilising an entirely different identity to lure people in, blowfishing is the much more common practice of inflating or 'blowing up' one’s lifestyle to appear grander than it actually is. Coined by Cris Che Axé, the phenomenon has garnered some Internet conversation as of late, but jokes aside, it is a form of manipulation. According to Axé, it occurs when someone lies about their lifestyle, assets, interests, abilities, access or habits in order to gain a relationship.
While we all take a curated approach to our social media, hacking away at the messy bits to present ourselves the way we want, there’s certainly a line between harmless curation and manipulation. The key difference is the intention; when someone is actively trying to manipulate people as opposed to just selling themselves by omitting the bad stuff. Whether it's by being elusive about their job to allude to greater successes, posting pics of themselves in luxury houses or restaurants they're not actually at, or even fancy car rentals portrayed as their own, blowfishing can take place over social media, dating apps or even during in-person conversations.
People catfish for all kinds of reasons including for financial gain, power, etc. But blowfishing almost exclusively occurs in a dating context to seem more attractive to potential suitors. Those employing the deception might go to great lengths to keep up the rouse, so it can be harder to catch out if they’re not giving you any reason to doubt them.
In the competitive world of modern dating, you can understand the reasoning behind wanting to project an attractive lifestyle. Maybe we convince ourselves that once people get to know us, the other stuff won’t matter. But do we really want to sit with the idea that someone may have only swiped right because they think our bank-teller job is a high-flying finance gig? It’s not a great way to start a relationship, and someone who judges you for your real life probably isn't The One. And if you're telling yourself that it's on them for jumping to conclusions, maybe a little self-reflection is in order.
No one wants to have to be suspicious of the person they’re dating, but a sad reality of dating strangers is that you do have to be somewhat on your guard. You don’t have to go into situations assuming that everyone’s out to manipulate you, but don’t ignore the red flags like inconsistencies in their stories, limited details about their lives when you push a little, or if they always seem to speak about in a self-aggrandising way.
Truthfully, we’re all guilty of inflating our lifestyles to a degree, even if we’re not aware of it. It makes sense to only include your highlight reel in your profile, and meticulously craft your persona to catch the right fish, but just try to keep it within the realms of the truth to avoid becoming a blowfish.