What is wokefishing and how can you spot it?

If you’re someone who’s comfortable being described as ‘very online’, you’ll have heard of catfishing, kittenfishing, blackfishing, and maybe even hatfishing.

But what about wokefishing?

You might not know what wokefishing means, but if you’re currently single and actively dating, you’ve likely come across it.

In the same way that catfishing is masquerading as another person and kittenfishing is using old and edited photos to present yourself in a more flattering way, wokefishing, too, is a form of deception that’s doomed to cause disappointment.

Coined by Serena Smith for Vice, wokefishing describes when someone pretends to hold progressive – or ‘woke’ views to lure another person into dating them.

They seem lovely at first, but the problem arises when you learn that their ‘wokeness’ is only for appearances – beneath the surface, they really don’t care.

A wokefisher might proudly declare themselves a feminist, add #BlackLivesMatter to their Tinder bio, or say all the right things when you talk about, say, trans rights, improving accessibility for disabled people, or providing free healthcare. They’re all about saying the ‘right’ thing to make themselves seem like caring, unproblematic people.

But once you get to know them, they’re actually sexist, racist, or hold deeply problematic views.

Perhaps they claim they’re proudly feminist, but are quick to slut-shame women who they decide have committed a terrible crime by enjoying sex. Maybe they’ll post a black square on Instagram, but casually use racist slurs when they’re with their friends.

When you prod just a little below the surface, a wokefisher will reveal that they don’t actually share your views or relate to your values, they were just saying what they needed to get into your life.

It’s difficult to call them out, though, because often they believe they really are as woke as they proclaim. How can you call them sexist when they constantly praise their working mum? How dare you say they’re racist when they dated a Black woman once?

You can spot a wokefisher by keeping an eye and ear out for those times their words and actions don’t reflect their initial claims. Don’t dismiss those discrepancies – yes, someone’s opinions can change and grow, but if it’s starting to feel like they’ve hopped on a hashtag or label for woke points but don’t actually do anything beyond calling themselves anti-racist/feminist/pro trans rights, listen to your gut.

‘If it seems too good to be true, it usually is,’ Dr Carmen Harra tells Health. ‘Being honest from the beginning helps avoid mistakes that were made in former relationships,. It will save you much time if you come to the conclusion that this person doesn’t hold the same values as you. Allow yourself to be led by your intuition.’

In those instances, it’s important to know when the time comes to cut your losses and ditch the relationship. It’s tempting to try to educate someone, but if a person chooses to misrepresent their views and doesn’t even try to see your way of thinking – or constantly plays devil’s advocate – they’re probably not someone you want to dedicate all your energy to.

As Maya Angelou said: ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them.’

We’d like to add to the end of that: ‘and get the hell out of there’.

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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