So, what exactly is hatfishing?
Hatfishing is when you date a man who wears hats all the time – usually to cover up a bald patch or, more unconventionally, a peculiar-shaped head. As The Cut writer and coiner of the term, Jason Chen, says: “Have enough single friends trade enough bad-date war stories, and you’ll eventually hear the one about the guy who, with his hat on, looked like Prince William circa St Andrews and, with his hat off, like Prince William circa the royal wedding.”
Say, for example, you’re perusing Tinder. If a guy is wearing a beanie or cap indoors, then Chen says it’s highly likely he’s trying to hatfish you; attempting to convince potential dates that he looks different to how he actually looks sans hat. Apparently, hatfishers on dating sites are easy to spot – after all, why would someone be wearing a hat in every single one of their pictures if they weren’t a serial hatfisher?
But in real life, Chen says it’s much harder to decipher: “Is that guy in a hat because he just came from Barry’s or because he’s hiding his bald spot? Is skullcap guy really that cold or is he self-conscious about his temples?” It’s a minefield out there.
How do you know if you’re being hatfished?
It’s simple: this guy you’re dating – have you ever seen the top of his head? If the answer is no, then you’re probably being hatfished. Other tell-tale signs include wearing a hat in all social media pics, wearing a hat in Tinder snaps, wearing a hat on your first date – especially if it’s in a fancy restaurant – or in bed and everywhere in between.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing a hat though, is there?
Of course not – you want your date to feel comfortable and if a beanie gives them a sense of security, then fair enough. But hiding your appearance – and knowing that you’re hiding your appearance – is not all that different from uploading ten-year-old pictures of yourself to Tinder.
It might feel a little trivial; perhaps the male equivalent of tried-and-tested techniques women use to make themselves more appealing to potential suitors on dating sites – taking high-angled selfies, using Snapchat filters, posing in a a dive bar in Shoreditch even though you much prefer staying at home, or photoshopping Megan Barton Hanson’s body onto your own. But, obviously, all of these things blur the truth about who you really are.
To find out how being hatfished affects people, Chen interviewed Jean, a 32-year-old writer. “I went out with a guy who wore a baseball cap on our first date,” she told him. “We got a coffee, so it wasn’t a super-formal setting, but then I remembered that he was wearing a hat in one of his profile photos on Bumble, too. After we started dating, I realised that he wore his hats all the time to hide his bald spot.”
Jean said her date eventually confessed to having a bald spot in an exchange she calls “mortifying”. In all of the interviews Chen conducts, one thing is clear: people really want to know if their date has a full head of hair before they decide to meet for drinks. But what’s worse: losing your hair, or being ashamed of losing your hair?
Not every man is going to be all Jason Statham about balding. Some men wear a hat because they’re self-conscious, and it makes them feel good. And really, where can we draw the line? If a man grows a beard to cover up a bad jawline, is that an arm of catfishing? What about when a woman wears a push-up bra? Or hair extensions? We should all be allowed to do what makes us feel better without facing scrutiny, right?
Let’s be honest: starting your relationship with a lie isn’t good for anyone involved. And no one can keep up that kind of thing up forever – you can’t really have sex in a trilby and not arouse suspicion. You and your date will eventually see each other in the cold light of day, each of your flaws in full view of the other, and make a decision. Does hatfishing trump compatibility? If it does, you’ve got bigger problems than just a man perpetually rocking a hat.
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