Move aside breadcrumbing, there’s a new term that’s made its way into the dating vernacular: dogfishing.
Dogfishing is when online daters pose with adorable pets—typically dogs—that aren’t theirs. The term was coined earlier this week in the The Washington Post, where the author writes: “Dogfishing is not exactly a lie—the person did take a photo with that dog—but to some daters, it feels like a veiled form of deception.”
Now, I’m a sucker for a man with a dog. You give me a squishy-faced, slobbering machine and I’ll start screaming at the top of my lungs. Lord knows I’ve swiped right just because I saw a cute dog in an online dater’s photo.
That’s why I undeniably agree with the author about the effectiveness of dogfishing. It works. Dogs are awesome. Most of the time I like them better than humans.
But the moral duplicity with which she paints dogfishers is exaggerated. Perhaps my bar for honesty in a relationship is low, given the numerous times I’ve been ghosted, lovebombed, and led on, but no one is “lying” when it comes to dogfishing. Meanwhile, there are many folks who ARE blatantly lying about their height, age, or exactly how current their photos are.
Dogfishers are simply peacocking (before you know it, all dating terms will be animal-themed). It’s an accessory. No one would be angry at a woman for borrowing clothing from her friend for a profile pic. One could make the argument that if you swiped right for her fashion sense, you’d be disappointed, but really, are accessories that big of a deal? If the dog is the only reason you swiped right, that’s as much on you as it is on them. You should have also read their profile and found them cute, smart, funny, etc.
And as for dogfishing being “inauthentic,” so to speak…most people aren’t their full, authentic selves on the first date anyway. We emphasize our best qualities, and delay bringing up the less-flattering stuff. Similarly, putting a dog in your photo isn’t deception—it’s just putting your best food forward.
Erika Ettin, an online dating coach, told the Washington Post, “It’s just odd when you’re using someone else’s dog online, and it seems like you’re trying too hard.”
If that’s considered “trying too hard,” then I try way too hard. We all do. Everyone I know—and this isn’t an exaggeration—has thought extensively about their profile picture, even traveling to certain locations to get the perfect shot.
The author even notes, “But in the online dating world, when the search for a partner is boiled down to quick swipes, a first impression matters even more than it does in real life.”
Exactly! First impressions are huge in online dating, so don’t shame some for “trying too hard”!
“It’s like getting your foot in the door, presenting yourself in this performative way…Until that impression is ruined because you have to explain yourself,” the author writes—and I simply have to disagree.
If a guy replying, “Oh, that’s actually my friend’s dog. How cute is he?” ruins your entire impression of him, then you shouldn’t have swiped right to begin with.