Caught up in 'catfishing' - FOX 13 News

Caught up in 'catfishing'

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It was first a documentary. It's called "Catfish". It's now been made into an MTV series.

Some have never even heard of "Catfish," until now.

It follows the story of a young guy as he builds a relationship online with a woman he meets on Facebook.

But not all stories end well.

In "Catfish", the woman turns out to be fake.

Now, "catfishing" has become a term to describe someone who intentionally builds a fake profile and dupes someone into believing they are forming a true connection.

That's what Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o is now being called a victim of.

But the truth about online dating, according to Tampa relationship coach Chandra Alexander is that, if done right, finding a match online can work.

"Online dating is a hoot, it's great. As long as you have good discrimination. If you don't have good discrimination, you shouldn't be dating, period," she said.

Recent studies show there are more than 54 million single people in the United States. 40 million of them admit to trying online dating.

Alexander says online dating is just part of life now. She says those texts, tweets and Facebook updates don't substitute for the face-to-face meeting.

"It does not. Absolutely not. Until you actually meet someone, none of it actually means much," she says.

Alexander says there are things singles need to follow when they get into online dating.

"You need to exchange a few messages with people online. But don't drag the relationship online forever. You don't want to be a pen pal forever," she said.

Alexander says then you move on to calling each other on the phone. But Alexander says the ultimate goal is to make a date to meet up.

"Do not meet at night, drive your own car, meet in the afternoon for a cup of coffee," she said. "But my suggestion is, you try to meet someone as quickly as possible."

In the United States, online dating is now the number 2 way for singles to meet a match. Meeting through mutual friends is still the number one way.

Alexander says "catfishing" is someone's cruel way of scamming those looking for love. But she says we can't focus on those people.

"Why are people dysfunctional? For a variety of reasons, they're scared, they're lonely. It's not for us to figure out why they're doing what they're doing. It's for us to take care of ourselves."

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