Is maskfishing the latest dating trend we don't need?by Almara Abgarian
Coronavirus has unquestionably changed how we date.
At the start of lockdown, video dating was all the rage (since, you know, we weren’t allowed to leave our homes) and then we embraced the picnic and park outings with vigour.
But, as we know, not all dating trends are positive; point in case, ghosting, breadcrumbing, microcheating – yeah OK, almost all dating trends suck.
And there is now a new horror to add to our ever-growing list: please welcome ‘maskfishing’.
As the name suggests, it is similar to catfishing but with a pandemic twist. Let’s explore.
What is maskfishing?
The premise is simple.
You spot a hot stranger, perhaps you ‘eye-flirt’ on the tube, giving them your best smize but later, as they remove their mask (when safely off public transport) they are not attractive as you imagined.
Just earlier today, a woman called Sharmadean Reid shared the phenomenon on Twitter.
‘Has anyone else been maskfished? You see someone hot with dreamy eyes and then they remove their mask and it’s…[insert shrugging emoji here].’
The trend has actually been around for a while, shared on Urban Dictionary back in July but seems to be gaining popularity as of late.
‘Got this woman number but little do she know I’m maskfishing,’ tweeted one man recently. [sic]
While maskfishing might be similar to catfishing, there is one distinct difference – you can’t actually help what you look like with a mask on – whereas catfishing is about deliberately misleading a potential date about your appearance or information about yourself.
Some people are also maskfishing on social media and dating apps, explains Sarah Louise Ryan, a matchmaker and relationship expert.
There are usually two reasons – either to show support for mask-wearing as a whole (positive) or as an excuse to deliberately withhold part of their face from matches (negative).
‘Maskfishing is the concept that someone who is wearing a mask might be seemingly attractive to the opposite sex because you can only see their eyes and not much more of their facial features,’ she says.
‘The trend also has some people intentionally removing photos of them without a mask from their social media or dating app profile pictures intentionally to show support for slowing the spread of C-19 or perhaps as a way to hide their true identity or full self with the world.
‘There have been reports of people feeling a sense of disappointment when the mask comes off and they find they are not physically attracted to the person behind the mask.
‘Dealing with disappointment can be tricky to navigate but is do-able in a few steps, such as realising our expectations were beyond reality.
‘For a love to last we first form attraction with someone, we are then stimulated by their personality – if there is no attraction in the beginning stages it’s hard to move to the next stages of romance in order to form attraction.’
However, it’s actually not that surprising that people are falling for others with nothing but their eyes to go by – as these play a big part in dating and flirting.
Sarah adds: ‘Happiness is the most attractive trait and is what mostly draws us into being attracted to someone in the first instance.
‘We can flirt with our eyes – “the windows into the soul”– by smiling.
‘When we smile our eyes often follow suit and makes the glaze softer, more welcoming and potentially more attractive to a potential romantic suitor.
‘We can also flirt with our eyes by keeping consistent and relatively constant eye contact with the person of romantic interest when in conversation.
‘This shows intrigue, engagement and shows we are listening, but with our eyes.’
You might even be able to tell if someone likes you depending on how long they gaze into your eyes.
Sarah says: ‘Also, as normal eye contact length of time is around three seconds by having prolonged periods of eye contact, whether in conversation or not, will most likely show a romantic curiosity and intrigue between two people.’
That being said, if the person you’re eyeing up doesn’t appear receptive to your stare, move your gaze elsewhere – consent is important here, too.
If maskfishing is a concern, there’s an easy – and obvious – trick to avoiding the trend: ask the wearer to remove theirs.
Similarly, if you’re chatting online, ask them for a recent snap that doesn’t include the mask.
To avoid catfishing, it might be worth requesting a brand new pic and getting them to do a wave or other hand gesture so you’re confident it’s new.
Or try video calling, if that’s your jam.
On some dating apps, like Bumble, users can also ask matches to ‘confirm’ their identity, at which point they get a blue tick next to their profile.
Alternatively, hold off on dating until the pandemic is over and face masks are no longer required.
Dating terms and trends, defined
Blue-stalling: When two people are dating and acting like a couple, but one person in the partnership states they're unready for any sort of label or commitment (despite acting in a different manner).
Breadcrumbing: Leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ of interest – random noncommittal messages and notifications that seem to lead on forever, but don’t actually end up taking you anywhere worthwhile Breadcrumbing is all about piquing someone’s interest without the payoff of a date or a relationship.
Caspering: Being a friendly ghost - meaning yes, you ghost, but you offer an explanation beforehand. Caspering is all about being a nice human being with common decency. A novel idea.
Catfish: Someone who uses a fake identity to lure dates online.
Clearing: Clearing season happens in January. It’s when we’re so miserable thanks to Christmas being over, the cold weather, and general seasonal dreariness, that we will hook up with anyone just so we don’t feel completely unattractive. You might bang an ex, or give that creepy guy who you don’t really fancy a chance, or put up with truly awful sex just so you can feel human touch. It’s a tough time. Stay strong.
Cloutlighting: Cloutlighting is the combo of gaslighting and chasing social media clout. Someone will bait the person they’re dating on camera with the intention of getting them upset or angry, or making them look stupid, then share the video for everyone to laugh at.
Cockfishing: Also known as catcocking. When someone sending dick pics uses photo editing software or other methods to change the look of their penis, usually making it look bigger than it really is.
Cuffing season: The chilly autumn and winter months when you are struck by a desire to be coupled up, or cuffed.
Firedooring: Being firedoored is when the access is entirely on one side, so you're always waiting for them to call or text and your efforts are shot down.
Fishing: When someone will send out messages to a bunch of people to see who’d be interested in hooking up, wait to see who responds, then take their pick of who they want to get with. It’s called fishing because the fisher loads up on bait, waits for one fish to bite, then ignores all the others.
Flashpanner: Someone who’s addicted to that warm, fuzzy, and exciting start bit of a relationship, but can’t handle the hard bits that might come after – such as having to make a firm commitment, or meeting their parents, or posting an Instagram photo with them captioned as ‘this one’.
Freckling: Freckling is when someone pops into your dating life when the weather’s nice… and then vanishes once it’s a little chillier.
Gatsbying: To post a video, picture or selfie to public social media purely for a love interest to see it.
Ghosting: Cutting off all communication without explanation.
Grande-ing: Being grateful, rather than resentful, for your exes, just like Ariana Grande.
Hatfishing: When someone who looks better when wearing a hat has pics on their dating profile that exclusively show them wearing hats.
Kittenfishing: Using images that are of you, but are flattering to a point that it might be deceptive. So using really old or heavily edited photos, for example. Kittenfishes can also wildly exaggerate their height, age, interests, or accomplishments.
Lovebombing: Showering someone with attention, gifts, gestures of affection, and promises for your future relationship, only to distract them from your not-so-great bits. In extreme cases this can form the basis for an abusive relationship.
Microcheating: Cheating without physically crossing the line. So stuff like emotional cheating, sexting, confiding in someone other than your partner, that sort of thing.
Mountaineering: Reaching for people who might be out of your league, or reaching for the absolute top of the mountain.
Obligaswiping: The act of endlessly swiping on dating apps and flirt-chatting away with no legitimate intention of meeting up, so you can tell yourself you're doing *something* to put yourself out there.
Orbiting: The act of watching someone's Instagram stories or liking their tweets or generally staying in their 'orbit' after a breakup.
Paperclipping: When someone sporadically pops up to remind you of their existence, to prevent you from ever fully moving on.
Preating: Pre-cheating - laying the groundwork and putting out feelers for cheating, by sending flirty messages or getting closer to a work crush.
Prowling: Going hot and cold when it comes to expressing romantic interest.
R-bombing: Not responding to your messages but reading them all, so you see the 'delivered' and 'read' signs and feel like throwing your phone across the room.
Scroogeing: Dumping someone right before Christmas so you don't have to buy them a present.
Shadowing: Posing with a hot friend in all your dating app photos, knowing people will assume you're the attractive one and will be too polite to ask.
Shaveducking: Feeling deeply confused over whether you're really attracted to a person or if they just have great facial hair.
Sneating:When you go on dates just for a free meal.
Stashing: The act of hiding someone you're dating from your friends, family, and social media.
Submarineing: When someone ghosts, then suddenly returns and acts like nothing happened.
V-lationshipping:When someone you used to date reappears just around Valentine's Day, usually out of loneliness and desperation.
You-turning: Falling head over heels for someone, only to suddenly change your mind and dip.
Zombieing: Ghosting then returning from the dead. Different from submarineing because at least a zombie will acknowledge their distance.
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