The Catfish manifesto typically rests on one exclusive rule: lie, lie and lie some more — so in the unusual event that an elusive online dater turns out to have told the truth about his or her identity, it’s typically a good sign. But by the end of the show’s most recent adventure, we were forced to wonder: Can you tell the truth about your identity while still faking your feelings?
On Wednesday’s episode, which took Nev and guest host Kamie Crawford to Kalamazoo, Michigan, MTV’s resident online detectives met with a 22-year-old student named Tristyn, who’d fallen in love with a 20-year-old restaurant worker named Lara.
Tristyn explained that he stumbled onto Lara’s Twitter page after searching the #Michigan hashtag and was instantly smitten. But, as is the case with any great Catfish story, there were red flags. While Tristyn and Lara — who lived just a half hour away from each other — texted constantly over the course of their three-year connection and had spoken on the phone, she refused to FaceTime and frequently broke plans to meet up. Still, she frequently told Tristyn how badly she wanted to move to Colorado with him and start a new life.
So Nev and Kamie got down to business, and after scanning through Lara’s Facebook page — which they both admitted seemed strikingly real — they stumbled upon Lara’s friend Harlie, whom they FaceTimed. Harlie confirmed that all of the social media handles Lara had given Tristyn were real and added her phone number was real too.
Still, the news didn’t sit well with Tristyn, who seemed sure he was being toyed with. On one hand, it was good news that Lara’s account appeared to be real, but if it was and she had avoided him for three years, didn’t that mean she was simply uninterested?
Things went from bad from worse when Nev and Kamie decided to show up to Lara’s workplace. There, Nev met Lara’s co-worker, who said he was pretty sure Lara was in a relationship.
In an unprecedented bit of Catfish resignation, Tristyn — despondent over the news — said he wanted some space and was prepared to cut the story short. Still, Nev wasn’t ready to give up, and when Lara finally returned Nev’s previously unanswered call, she agreed to meet at a local park, where Nev ventured without the heartbroken Tristyn.
Lo and behold, the Lara whom Tristyn had all but fallen in love with showed up. She apologized to Nev and Kamie for ghosting Tristyn, explained that she did not have a boyfriend and insisted she sincerely cared about Tristyn. She was simply afraid of relationships, she said, and was sure that if she met Tristyn, he’d be disappointed.
“I just don’t even date,” she said. “It’s not anything to do with him. I work a lot, and I know it’s not an excuse…I do like him; if anything, my feelings are too much.”
And it seemed like she really meant it when she finally came face to face with Tristyn, and the two appeared to hit it off. By the episode’s end, they’d even decided to take a car ride together, during which Lara adoringly took Tristyn’s hand in hers.
“I’m sorry it had to come down to this -- I’m just way out of my comfort zone,” she said. “[But] I want you in my life.”
Sadly, the relationship didn’t evolve as successfully as it began, and two months after the meetup, Tristyn confessed to Nev and Kamie that things didn’t work out -- after a few days together, he and Lara had rifted apart because of trust issues. Still, Tristyn said he was glad to have finally gotten closure.
But why did things end so quickly? Thinking back on Lara’s behavior, we're wondering whether she ever sincerely cared about Tristyn. After all, to have finally met after such a long time only to proceed to break up after a few days seems, well, fishy.
So what do you think — was Lara genuinely just too nervous to meet Tristyn, or did she lie about her investment and was just toying with him? Share your thoughts, then be sure to tune in to the next Catfish Wednesday at 8/7c!