Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Catfished Friend

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: how to deal with a friend who’s probably being catfished.

Nicole: Steve says you should sit her down, say, “I’m only going to talk about this once, but here are my concerns about your online boyfriend.”

Danny: even though she’s already done that?

like, as a final last-ditch roundup of all the concerns?

Nicole: Yep, exactly

Then say you will be there for her from then on out

Danny: do you agree with Steve?

Nicole: Yeah, I don’t really see what ELSE there is to do?

What else have we got?

Danny: if this were a 19th century novel you could offer the guy a check to leave your friend alone

“For relocation costs.”

Nicole: YES. Maybe he’s not even a catfish, just an Interesting Man.

So, do you refuse to talk about the relationship w/her going forward?

She says it’s really hard to listen to her friend singing his praises.

I think you’re better off staying in as a trusted person

Danny: yeah, it is frustrating but you’re probably right

unless he starts asking her for money

Nicole: YEP


Danny: i mean, the other thing i’d suggest is

you say she’s distressed

so rather than coming at it from the angle of “is he legit or not”

Nicole: right

Danny: you could always ask her, “Can you see yourself being happy in a relationship long-term with someone who has to travel a lot and can’t be with you in person?”

and kind of encourage her to think about what she does want in a relationship

Nicole: Yes!

Danny: like, presumably, “sometimes being in the same room together”

Nicole: I support this path

Danny: but it is sad! and i hope she gets out before he wastes too much of her time or starts demanding money

and that you can find ways to puncture the version of reality he tries to offer her

Nicole: Same. I hate these people.

Danny: catfishers are awful!

and lovebombing is such an ugly tactic

taking advantage of someone who’s just looking for affection and compliments

Nicole: It IS. Vulnerable people get absolutely overwhelmed

Danny: and to whatever extent you can affirm your friend’s worth outside of this relationship, i think that will help too in the long run

not, like, try to one-up her fake boyfriend in terms of over-the-top compliments

but if you can find a natural way to point out one of her positive qualities or affirm your friendship, please do

Nicole: Yes, I think this is a really important thing