Fresh Breath, Not Fish Breath: Cleaning Up the Mess After Being Catfished
At Bumble, we believe in rising from unexpected circumstances to surprise the hell out of others and ourselves. We learn from every experience and build up our confidence, intelligence, and communication skills. If you’ve been catfished, it’s time to heal and deal. Author, producer of breakthrough neuroscience education, and founder of MedNeuro Natalie Geld explains how making the first move to gain insight into your experience and feelings is key.
While talking with Dr. Kelly Campbell, who directs a study with over a thousand catfish targets and perpetrators, she suggested you ask yourself: “How do I avoid this experience?” Here are 3 tips to help you clean up that catfish mess.
S is for swimming freely in the dating pool again.
#1 Step back.
Give yourself room to breathe and clarify the experience instead of masking that fishy aftertaste with another flavor or scent. Dr. Campbell says to “take a short break from seeking romantic relationships for a while.”
#2 Surround yourself with social support.
Your BFF, circle of friends, and even a therapist if resources allow. “It’s important to give a new therapist a few sessions before bailing - good outcomes are possible if you allow enough time. And confide in your support systems who accept you for who you are,” advises Dr. Campbell.
It’s important to recognize and express feelings of embarrassment instead of making up stories to hide being strung along by someone you never met. And release any feelings of guilt for being naive - holding onto these emotions only makes you resentful and angry. Forgive yourself, find your joy, and dive into it until you feel good instead.
#3 Self-awareness and self-esteem are key.
OK, so how do you raise your self esteem when you’re feeling like chum?
Dr. Campbell’s interest in couples’ relationships began in childhood, where she questioned why some couples make it and others don’t. An Associate Professor of Psychology at California State University, San Bernardino, Dr. Campbell’s research on interpersonal relationships focuses on instant connections within friendships and romantic relationships, and how being in love helps and/or hinders performance across academics, athletics, or creativity.
She recommends that you focus on your own goals. Ask yourself: “What have I always wanted to do? Be fit? Smart(er)? Good at a sport? Begin now!”
Instead of running from the situation or feeling sorry for yourself, go for a real run. This mind-clearing activity helps you make sense of troubling events and gain access to key insights. You’ll think quicker because your brain produces new neurons in a process called neurogenesis. These new baby neurons improve your brain’s capacity for learning and memory. Plus, neuroscience shows an exciting connection between aerobic exercise (running for 30 - 40 minutes to break a sweat) and cognitive clarity. Build and care for your mind and the rest will follow!
Dr. Campbell suggests that you “know your attachment style.” Even though it sounds like a clothing accessory, it’s really about learned behavior from early interactions in family lives. She says, “There are tools available online to take an attachment style assessment if you do a little digging. When you’re meeting people, notice how you’re acting and behaving when relating to others.”
Awareness, honesty, and empathy are essential when you navigate this sometimes ‘sticky’ web of behavior patterns. Are we the web, the predator, or the prey? The line gets blurred sometimes.
Finally, she suggests to work on yourself, which brings us back to the top!
You raise your own bar when you take steps to know your needs and improve how you communicate. Be courageous. Set your standards high for how you’re treated and how you treat others. Value your choices.
Natalie Geld for The BeeHive