Moment Of Clarity

Catfish or Bad Fish?

Our resident therapist helps you determine if you're being catfished or dating a bad fish.
Credit: Thinkstock

We understand.  Sometimes, problems with romantic relationships,  friendships, career or family life get you down. And we want to help. That’s why JET is working with therapist, Jinnie Cristerna, who will take your questions and offer some sage, sanity-restoring advice and insight every Tuesday.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

You can submit questions via and don’t fret, we’ll keep your name and identity confidential.

QUESTION: “I’ve had an online boyfriend for about two to three years now. He said he bought me a diamond ring and would publicly profess his love for me; however, he returned the ring because I didn’t send him money. He wanted me to prove that I loved him by sending him $500.00. I didn’t send money right away because I needed the money he already owed me and I thought he would repay me if I sent him more money. I feel I have to prove that I love him. He says he is confined to a church in the United Kingdom and undergoing counseling with a pastor. I feel like I am being manipulated and asked him to bring that up in his sessions.  His response was that I should not take it the wrong way. I don’t know how to deal with this.” ~Signed, Confused and unseen.

Dear Confused and Unseen,

This is a very sensitive subject and I am responding to your question with the intention of being helpful. I am unsure of the details of this situation and could be completely off; however, from what you have shared, it seems that you may be the victim of a catfishing scheme.

According to the Urban Dictionary, catfishing is a term used when someone pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

The following are the reasons I make this observation:

1) He’s making promises to proclaim his love for you in exchange for something (typically money). Love should not be contingent on money and if it is, get out fast! That goes for catfishes and regular fishes. That’s the sign of a manipulator and those relationships place you in the position of never feeling “good enough.” In the end, you end up feeling like a crazy and inadequate partner.

2) He’s overseas and “secluded.” This is a standard red flag at this point. Anyone overseas who is asking for money and holding their love for ransom is suspect to being a catfish. Add to the equation some element of seclusion and you’ve got yourself a bona fide alarm going off.

3) I’m unsure if you’ve ever met, but if you haven’t, that would be the third red flag. If you haven’t met him face-to-face, then that’s it. Don’t spend any time trying to sort it out because in doing so, you fall deeper into the abyss of crazy town and will have an even more difficult time getting out. Cut your losses and move on.

While there are several other indicators that signal a catfish, these are the biggest ones.

Now, let’s presume you have met, do have a long-distance relationship (because he’s in the UK) and are not being “catfished.” The question you face in that scenario is: Do you really want to be in this type of relationship? And, do you really want to be in a relationship with someone who is flakey, at best, and whom you feel manipulates you?

If the answer is no, then there you go. It’s time to move on from the relationship. Go to counseling and address the issues that allowed yourself to be attracted to someone like him so you can make healthier choices in the future. You deserve to be happy and must know that there are healthier “fish” in the sea.

If the answer is “yes,” then all I can say is, “Best of luck to you” because there is nothing else to discuss. If you still need to talk about this situation after you have chosen to stay with the person, that tells me your gut is trying to tell you something different. Talking with a counselor can help you sort out the internal conflict and hopefully find clarity and continuity between your head and heart.

In the end, we all deserve to be happy. When we settle for those things, people, and situations that do not serve our highest good we are unhappy and feel fragmented. If you really want to find happiness, become the person you would want to meet; you’d be surprised at the type of people who begin to enter your life. No one is perfect and we need to all be open to some level of disappointment, however, when we see red flags in our relationships we must pause. Those flags signal just the tip of the iceberg, especially for those who are planning to get married.

There is a saying: “People don’t get better, they just get better at what they do.” Marinate on that for a while.

I hope this was helpful and wish you the best of luck on this part of your journey.

With love and light … pleasant journeys.


Do you have a question for Jinnie? Email us at We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. You can also learn more about our “Moment of Clarity” JET therapist via:

Her site at International High Achievers.

Twitter: @intlachievers

Facebook: Like Jinnie’s Page!

You can also subscribe to her High Achievers email list here!