Social Question

trailsillustrated's avatar

Was I 'catfished'?

Asked by trailsillustrated (16789points) March 31st, 2016

I developed an online relationship with someone I knew as a very young adult. The picture he sent was 10 years old, I knew he was somewhat overweight. I flew over to the USA to visit. This person wants very much to immigrate, and I was open to having a partner. He would never turn his camera on during our many hours of conversation. When he picked me up at the airport I discovered he is now morbidly obese. He wears orthopaedic shoes and sleeps with a Cpap device. I had never seen one of these, and the visit was quite odd. I live in an old house which has an old fashioned loo, and drive a very small car. He wouldn’t be able to handle the work that traveling over here is,(Australia), nor the life here. I don’t own a television or tumble dryer. I’ve never seen the tv shows that he schedules to watch. Is it possible for a 350–400 pound middle aged man to successfully lose half their body weight and become fit? Australia has socialised medicine and he would not be allowed to immigrate with his current health issues. He would not tell me all his medications, saying he did not know what they are for. I feel sort of catfished because I did tell him prior to visiting about this, and sent him the government booklet on immigration. Should I just leave it and not say anything to him? I feel very awkward.

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52 Answers

dxs's avatar

Did he refuse to show himself in the video chats? Why didn’t you see that as a red flag? I’d find it strange if someone I’ve never met before would not show themselves live if you haven’t met before. Is it possible that you can just let the relationship “diffuse”?

jca's avatar

If he has health insurance or Medicaid and is willing, he may be a candidate for weight loss surgery.

I would have been suspicious with him not sending a current photo. I would have insisted.

dxs's avatar

I’m just thinking about it in terms of personality. Do you really want to be with someone who withholds this kind of information? Also, what about the health problems he may face in the future due to his obesity?

josie's avatar

Let it go. He is the one with the problem, not you.

Australia has socialised medicine and he would not be allowed to immigrate with his current health issues
I like it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Catfished indeed!

trailsillustrated's avatar

@dxs I have met him in person before, many years ago. The same engaging and brilliant personality. Er yeah I’m dumb haha.

Jeruba's avatar

@trailsillustrated, an engaging and brilliant personality who has become very, very unhappy and sees you as a way out of his troubles. It sounds to me like you already know what the right answer is. Really, I think all you need to do is listen to yourself.

stanleybmanly's avatar

But just a minute. If the “engaging and brilliant personality” remains intact, why not ask for a demonstration of the willpower to dump the tonnage?

trailsillustrated's avatar

@stanleybmanly uh exactly- I just feel entirely weird about it, I’ve never even met a person that big, I don’t want to be a ‘body shamer’, this is way outside of my personal experiences, ever, I feel like I can’t talk to him, because, I don’t want to appear to be a shamer turd type.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Does he have a sense of humor concerning his bulk?

trailsillustrated's avatar

He kind of acts like its something that was visited upon him from outer space. He’s very unhappy about it and told me he would lose all of it in 8 months and no longer need diabetes and bp medication. I went to dental school which shared pre grad with the medical students, so I kind of find this hard to believe…

stanleybmanly's avatar

Well I confess that I’m inclined to agree with you. Yet I find the situation intriguing for a variety of reasons. For example, as you pointed out, just the practical everyday problem solving confronting a person afflicted with so much weight. Perhaps YOU might be the incentive to lose that weight. It sounds as though he’s willing to make the attempt. 8 months sounds rather improbable for so drastic a shift. But you are right in both your caution and skepticism. Any commitment on your part toward coaching him toward fitness will be a daunting responsibility and the odds aren’t good.

jca's avatar

If he has surgery, he might lose 100 lbs in six months to a year, but then that would slow down significantly. It might take him 2 to 3 years to lose 250 lbs.

janbb's avatar

Catfished implies that the person was duped. I don’t think you were duped: I think you were looking for something and ignored the red flags. If you don’t love or even like him the way he is, for any reason, why hang on in the unlikely hope that he will be able to change so drastically? It doesn’t make sense.

Why take on such a burden? I’m alone and would like a companion but I will not compromise my wants and needs. I’d rather stay alone.

Zaku's avatar

If I were you, I would look at why I allowed that to happen, and not try to blame him. He has enough problems. However, you have every right to not be interested in a romantic relationship. I would not be interested. I’ve been approached by people I was not attracted to, and I just took responsibility for that. e.g. “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel physically attracted to you.” Or “I’m not attracted to bodies that seem very overweight.” Or “My sexuality is conditioned to be attracted to smaller body types.” Or something along those lines.

It is possible to lose that much weight, but it is a massive quest. I would not almost certainly not sign up to support that as a romantic partner.

CWOTUS's avatar

There’s nothing wrong with you that I’ve ever noticed, @trailsillustrated. It seems to me that you clearly and objectively explained things – which are completely outside of your control – which would be necessary for him to emigrate to Australia. You acted in good faith, and you even had faith that your memory of who he was inside would be able to surmount the major health issues that he had refused to divulge to you during your chats – and which I don’t doubt you realized at the time were problems, even if you didn’t want to confront them during your chats. Then you traveled to see and visit with him – and that’s not a cheap or easy journey to make, either, I know. (In hindsight, perhaps if he had come to visit you instead, and seen at first hand the conditions that he would have to adapt to, he might be the one looking for an out.)

To answer your specific question, “No, I do not believe that you were ‘catfished’, given the way the term is used. However, I do think that you were treated shabbily, and you don’t deserve that.”

You could leave the door open to him, I suppose, if you think that he could manage to resolve his health issues, and perhaps after that reconsider his immigration to live with you. But given how he has acted up to now, do you think that’s wise?

trailsillustrated's avatar

Welp you are all right. I’m kind of a derp I guess, he comes from the same ‘tribe’ so to speak, when he was young he was hot af, I just… Am dumb I guess, I read so much about fat shaming and that, I don’t want to be one of those! It’s just so awkward. I do have a love interest here who ticks all the boxes but does not want a relationship. He (person in the us) told me he’s very handy and mechanically inclined, which I believe because I met him at high school for stem gifted kids. But he can’t move! He can’t help with my house and other things. I feel terrible about the whole thing. Thank you for your thoughts. It’s been really helpful to me.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It’s sad and I think you’re lovely to be so understanding and kind about this situation. He deceived you. He held back the info about his weight and health because you might not have visited him and you would have been quite likely to have ended things with him. So yes, he catfished you.

You’re right that he wouldn’t be allowed to emigrate here. His health problems would remove that option.

I would say his motives were loneliness and perhaps the hope that you could accept him as he is. He wasn’t being realistic. Do you think you could remain friends from afar? You know him as a person you’ve communicated with, rather than just as an obese man.

And you aren’t dumb. Anything but. You trusted someone you knew. You were misled. It really is quite sad.

JLeslie's avatar

You aren’t fat shaming, you are being realistic about the consequences of him being so overweight. I think @jca is probably right that he could lose 100lbs quickly if he had surgery or even if he went on an extreme diet. The next 100 pounds will be tougher. Also, there is no guarantee his other medical problems will disappear, although it is likely at least some of the seemingly weight related problems will.

I think don’t feel badly. He purposely duped you. It’s not nice. Also, don’t let guilt drive you to do something you don’t really want to do.

I think we have something innate regarding not being attracted to very obese people. Just like men look at our curves related to fertility. It has to do with overall health and fertility.

Is say if he weighs the same today and the day he first started talking with you again, then that is another red flag. You would think he might have started dieting in anticipation.

Also, your country takes cars of the problem for you. You won’t have to outright say you don’t want to help him, will you? Australia is already going to say he is too heavy. Or, maybe I am misunderstanding and you are worried he actually will lose a lot of weight and then you will feel obligated.

jca's avatar

I am guessing that he is not a bad person and didn’t do this maliciously, just did it out of desperation for some kind of a normal relationship with a woman. Probably also he’s lonely and found you attractive. I wouldn’t mention the things that @Zaku suggests, don’t say “I’m not attracted to bodies that are very overweight.” I wouldn’t say anything much, actually. Just let the whole sexual part of your relationship fade away. No flirting, no talk of living together, nothing about a relationship. Just turn it into a friendship. Since he is thousands of miles away, and also not able to travel easily as he can barely move, it’s not like he’s going to turn up on your doorstep and look to hook up.

If he does ask you directly about a relationship or living together, I’d say something vague, like “I am trying to work on myself right now.” That’s probably not a total lie.

I’d try not to hurt his feelings unnecessarily with talk about his weight or health conditions.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I’m not talking to him at all, mostly because, awkward. There were red flags but, I felt like I had to go, ticket purchased etc. He has a sense of humour that I could not understand, during one of our conversations I dropped a very heavy ceramic dish on my bare foot, he made that “ha ha” laugh like a character in the Simpsons did- I just hung up as I was crying. A few little remarks that took my breath away, but were supposed to be funny. I figured perhaps it was just me, but no it’s over, I’ll be his friend but that’s it. Thanks again peeps

janbb's avatar

@trailsillustrated Well, no harm, no foul (whatever that means.) Maybe it was worth a shot and now you know.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I know she’s trying to get past talking about this, but this is the sort of thing that makes for a great short story. Perhaps she wasn’t “catfished”, but imagine after the considerable effort and rigors involved with a trip from fkn Australia to be confronted at the airport by a 400 lb. man! I for one, am interested in the considerable innovation required for a 400 pound man to drive himself to the airport, beginning with what sort of vehicle is desisgned to accommodate someone that size behind a steering wheel. Clearly, considerable effort and a great deal of physical stamina must be required of anyone in this guy’s condition still maintaining an independent existence. I apologize for what must seem voyeuristic in all of this, but I hope @trailsillustrated keeps a journal.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@stanleybmanly he drives a double cab giant Silverado pick up truck. He is an amazing artist and has inherited well, he doesn’t have to leave his house if he doesn’t want to. He’s able to order anything he wants from any restaurant he wants and have it delivered i was amazed . He told me he wanted to bring his truck over, which in my city would be something else because the streets are made for Morris minors and don’t even think about how or where you’d park it. Plus it’s illegal to drive a left hand drive car unless it’s an antique. When he met me at the airport yes I did almost faint. I too think it’s all pretty funny, but I still feel like a turd.

janbb's avatar

@trailsillustrated Are you still in the States or did you go back home yet?

trailsillustrated's avatar

I’m home. After he became deeply upset that I had never seen a cpap device I fled to my sisters and proceeded to have a super great crazy time with my friends.

janbb's avatar

Glad you made lemonade out of it, then!

Just to clarify, I think of catfishing as making up a totally bogus online persona and enticing someone with it. He did certainly mislead you though, by not sharing his current health problems and size.

trailsillustrated's avatar

This is also funny and weird. Over our hours and hours of conversations, we discussed sex openly (I’m like that), I’m very specific about what I like and if it’s not just right then I don’t like it. Well! He was on the very same page! But. He can’t move. He cannot move. I imitated the position I would have to get in to even sort of try to have sex for my friends and they died. So. That’s leaves oral sex only. That’s all. Do I want to give blow jobs and that’s all forever?? No, I do not. HAHAHAHA I feel sad and still unbelieving. @janbb maybe ‘catfish’ is the wrong word, I couldn’t think of what to call it.

si3tech's avatar

@trailsillustrated You were intentionally deceived by a person you can’t trust. Lied to by omission?

LornaLove's avatar

I’ve learned that you can’t change people. If he is huge he will remain huge until he decides it’s time to not be huge. It can be a physical or mental attribute, it doesn’t really matter.
Were you catfished? I’d say yes unless he just expected you to know he’d always had a weight problem? Other than that he was going on all you knew in the old days, which is pretty unrealistic.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My daughter dated a very huge guy for a while. Seriously obese. Probably 450 pounds. However, when she tried to talk to him he told her he liked being a “big guy.” I don’t know what his vision of himself in his head was. Men can be so odd like that.

My ex, who is normally fairly tall and slender, started putting on a lot of weight toward the end of our marriage. He did it because he wanted to weigh “380 like the professional linebackers do!” Nothing I said could dissuade him from his goal. He was only 6 foot (but convinced he was 6’4”) and when I pointed out that the pros work out 8 hours a day and he doesn’t work out at all…well, no dice.
It wasn’t until he saw a video of himself, jiggling along, that he realized he just looked like a fat guy with a beer belly, not a line backer, that he dropped the weight.

jca's avatar

@trailsillustrated: In all of your correspondence, did you used to ask him “what did you do today?” and if so, how did he respond? I’m wondering if he never said he went anywhere, if that was or should have been a red flag.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Obese people go places. Just not very quickly.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I’m aware of that but the OP said several times “he can’t move. He cannot move.”

trailsillustrated's avatar

@jca I did, often. He’s a an artist, he’s inherited well, so he just stayed home and painted I thought. But he did want to talk on messenger for hours, and it was summer here, I have a job,I swim and dive a lot. I had to explain that I just can’t do that. He watches a lot of tv, which I had really never thought about before. On weekends in the summer I’m super busy, and on Fridays he would say, “oh I know I’m not going to hear from you for the entire weekend” or “now you’re going to dissapear for the weekend” which would make me feel sort of bad. I just did not want to be glued to the phone for hours there’s too much else to do! I hate talking on the phone anyway. Now that I’ve been back and able to think about it, it was probably really dumb of me to even go there or get involved. He said he couldn’t run his camera because data which I understand, I have data caps too. I feel pretty stupid, I know he’s telling other,people that know us it’s all my fault. I don’t really care. I knew he was unhappy with his weight, but I was quite unprepared for what it turned out to be. I did tell him, often what life is like here and all that. I think he must be delusional because he never once said that he wouldn’t be able to do some of the things I do.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@Dutchess_III there is going places and then there is going overseas. And then there is going to Australia. It’s about as far as you can go, and it’s a lot of walking through airports, up and down ramps. In all of my trips (about 15 in my lifetime ) I have never seen a morbidly obese person on the trip to or from. Sorry I’m still kind of entirely weirded out by the whole thing haha, he hasn’t spoken a word to me since I left eh I feel bad.

jca's avatar

If you feel bad, you can try reaching out to him through email or text and ask how he is doing. I know you don’t want a relationship and you don’t want to lead him on, but if you get in touch, it’s a way of giving him the opportunity to discuss the visit and maybe he will open up about his motives. Maybe you will come away with a friendship. If not, maybe at the very least you won’t feel so bad.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Let the dust settle. Your friend blindsided you with some truly daunting realities. If he is the brilliant person you take him to be, once his hurt feelings ( for which he himself is responsible) subside, he must surely appreciate that it was unfair to confront you unaware with such a revelation. You feel bad because you’re decent, but this is not your fault.

trailsillustrated's avatar

You guys do you think if it does come up – for me to say anything about his weight? Is that just too rude? I just found out that having to go to wound care for a bruise is probably veinous damage and not reversible, I mean, I don’t see how he could possible think he’d have a nice trip over here it’s so..it would be really challenging.

jca's avatar

I wouldn’t mention the weight. Maybe he’ll bring it up and then it would be “on the table” to discuss.

CWOTUS's avatar

I wouldn’t say anything about his weight, specifically. More a general comment on “his health”, and one of the bullet points would be weight. Others would be diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure – and the physically demanding lifestyle that you do not intend to change in Australia.

jca's avatar

I wouldn’t bring the weight up nor would I bring up his health simply because I’m sure he knows that it’s an issue, and why hurt his feelings if it’s unnecessary? Like I said, if he throws it out there, then it’s up to discuss.

If he didn’t think his weight and health would be an issue, he would have been more forthcoming with discussing it in the first place, and he’d have offered photos of himself.

He knows he can’t move, he knows it’s going to be an impediment to any relationship, and at this point all you’d want to do is try to salvage a friendship. I’d just ask him how he’s doing and tell him you don’t think a long distance relationship is feasible right now and moving in together is not practical. Let the conversation flow from there.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I must be missing something here. Regarding a trip, I can’t imagine any possible way to get around discussing his weight. The idea of a trip to Australia on the part of a 400lb man borders on the delusional. The thought of pulling such a trip off without serious discussion of the weight issues is ridiculous on its face. Let’s forget about the trip and get to the bottom line. @trailsillustrated has no choice. The weight is THE issue. It MUST be discussed and frankly, and the sooner it’s done the better off you will both be.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’re missing something then, @stanleybmanly. I’m a big guy – not on that scale, but still pretty big – and I am positively dwarfed by some of the people in my company who routinely fly around the world, and in the back of the plane.

A 400-pound man in otherwise decent health can easily – even if uncomfortably – travel well, even without special accommodations. However, @trailsillustrated has described health restrictions on immigration to Australia, and those are the guidelines that have to be addressed. I do not believe that she has mentioned a government weight restriction, so restricting the discussion to that would perhaps overlook the other salient points that have to be addressed.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@CWOTUS to Australia? From the us? A 400 pound man? In business class, surely?

CWOTUS's avatar

From the USA to Malaysia, Thailand, India, Indonesia and China, of a certainty. I know that we’ve flown a lot of people to Australia in the past, but I’m not sure if the giants that I know of have gone there. And, no, not Business Class. Since the early 2000s all of our travel has been Coach: “the back of the plane”.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@CWOTUS wow I just cannot imagine somewhat that size not dying on the way-and Indonesia that’s as far. I’m positive they have to buy two seats though, the airline would make them. I’m going to have to ask @LornaLove or @Earthbound_Misfit what they think I think they’ve done the trip, or as far. Thanks all sorry to keep rabitting on about my discomfort the advise is much appreciated .

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah. I missed that. Well, the fact that he sent her a 10 year old picture shows that he was hiding something. So when they talked he probably made up stories about places he went and things he did.

jca's avatar

he just stayed home and painted I thought. But he did want to talk on messenger for hours.”
He watches a lot of tv,”

It sounds like he didn’t even make up stories.

flutherother's avatar

I’ve never heard the word ‘catfished’ before but I don’t think it applies in this case as he didn’t lie so much as just withhold information. I am surprised at you flying out to meet him without seeing a recent picture and it was underhand of him not to give you one or to explain why he wouldn’t.

In the circumstances you have no reason to feel guilty, but I would be honest with him and let him know how you see things proceeding from this point on. Or not proceeding.

jca's avatar

@trailsillustrated: How has your friendship been (or not) since this visit? Can you update?

jca
The Update Lady

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