Hi Jake,

I recently had a humiliating thing happen. I met a guy on Sniffies. We chatted for a bit, exchanged some pics, and I invited him over. When he showed up at my door, he took one look at me and immediately got really upset. He accused me of “catfishing” him and said I sent him fake pictures… even saying it’s guys like me who “ruin the apps.”

Full disclosure: The pictures I sent him were of me. Granted, they were from eight or nine years ago, but I think I mostly look the same. Sure, I’m a little older and maybe not quite as toned, but I think I still look good for my age. He apparently didn’t think so and left, but not before grumbling something about wasting $30 on an Uber.

Afterwards, I went to message him. I wanted to apologize and offer to Venmo him the money he spent getting to my place. But he had blocked me. The whole thing made me feel rotten and very embarrassed, but even more so, guilty. Did I do something wrong?

Fishing…not Catfishing

Dear Fishing…not Catfishing,

It never feels good to be rejected. Unfortunately, however, that’s part of the unwritten contract we enter into when we engage in random online hookups. There’s always a chance one party, or even both, won’t be interested when you meet IRL.

The guy you invited over is perfectly allowed to change his mind. Could he have been less rude about it? Probably. It’s sufficient enough for someone to just say they “changed their mind,” rather than lumping you into some viscous group that is apparently “ruining the apps.” But who knows what is story is? Maybe he has really high expectations when it comes to hookups, or perhaps he’s had a number of experiences where people have misled him? Regardless, he clearly was having some feelings.

That said, if you’re using old pics to market yourself, you have to be prepared for that possibility. Showcasing a photo that is eight or nine years old just isn’t the same thing as taking a selfie that day, or even that month, no matter how good you still look for your age. I get it. We all want to present our best selves when it comes to landing the hottest guys, but if you do that, you have to be prepared for a number of responses, including disapproval.

Here’s the thing though: How rejection affects you is an internal job. You don’t have to let it mean more than it does, which is one specific person simply not finding you a match for what they’re looking for in that moment. It’s not always personal, because each person sees things through their own lens and places a judgment on it, which differs from the perspective of the next person.

I’m sure there are plenty of other guys that have gone along with the hookup in the same situation, so that means there’s more than one opinion out there. You’ll want to practice taking a rejection in stride, and realizing it’s more about the other person than it is about you.

It doesn’t sound like you were deliberately trying to catfish or lure anyone with misleading information, so you can rest assured you’re not purposely doing anything wrong. Intention is everything, and it sounds like you really felt you were representing yourself accurately. For that, I’d suggest letting go of any guilt and shame, which are never healthy feelings to carry.

Instead, practice letting go of the situation, and being gentle with yourself, reminding yourself that “ruining the apps” by bamboozling someone was not what you had set out to do.

From there, you can decide how you might want to pivot in your “fishing” so that you minimize risk of something like this happening again. Maybe it’s time to think about using some new photos? I’ve even heard of guys captioning their photos with a disclaimer that they are a few years old, but that you look mostly the same. Bottom line: Just be very clear.

The more transparent and honest you can be when marketing yourself, the better…and that goes for listing your age as well! Heck, it might even be wise to set expectations low, so that when your next date comes over, he’ll be pleasantly surprised.

“You look even better in person than in your pictures!” he’ll say. Hear that, and something tells me the $30 Uber fee will be ancient history.

Ask Jake is our advice column by Queerty editor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Jake Myers. If you have a question for Jake, please email [email protected], or contact him through his LGBTQ therapy platform.

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