Fishing Dating – The New Dating Trend

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“Fishing is like dating. Sometimes catch and release is the best option.”

Dating in the 21st century has become innovative and fun, and also extremely dynamic. With new trends and terms coming up every now and again, it can be hard to keep up. But keep up you must or you risk being labeled outdated. After breadcrumbing, ghosting, benching, masturdating, the newest trend is that of fishing dating.

So, what is fishing dating? What does it mean when someone is fishing? How do you know if you are fishing? To answer all of these questions, let’s picture this scenario – you open an online dating app and send messages to all your matches, and then, sit back and wait for them to reply. Then, you go through the replies and respond to the one that seems the most appealing.

Been there, done that? Have a feeling that it has been done to you many times over? Well, you are already in the thick of fishing on the internet. Perhaps, you just don’t know it yet.

What Is Meant By Fishing Dating?

Fishing dating is when you send messages to all your interests on dating apps and choose from whoever replies to your messages. In other words, you cast a fishing net and see who catches the bait.

Normally, in online dating, people browse through the profiles of potential matches and then swipe right to connect with the ones they find most appealing. From there on, you either make a move or wait for the other person to respond. While it normal to pursue different prospects at once, that number is fairly limited.

In fishing dating, you’re essentially operating on the principle of there being plenty of fish and casting a wide net to see who take the bait. To do this, a person reaches out to a large number of connections or potential matches on dating apps and see who responds.

Among the ones who do, you then carefully select the one who best suits your interests and take things forward. The ones who don’t float your boat are simply ignored. It’s a lot like catching plenty of fish, choosing the one you like best, and throwing the rest back into the water. Hence, the name!

Fishing dating is more about exploring options rather than looking for something deep and meaningful. This new trend is the new dating mantra. While it may seem a harmless practice of exploring options when you are fishing, it certainly is damaging when you’re at the receiving end of it.

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7 Things You Should Know About Fishing Dating

If you’ve not done fishing dating before, don’t think that it hasn’t been done to you. An innocuous message on the lines of “How are you doing?” or “What’s up?” could be a sign that someone is fishing.

What makes this trend precarious is that there is always a sexual subtext to these conversations. So, what does fishing mean sexually? Essentially, it a used as a means to solicit hook-ups and casual sex. Being in a fishing relationship means having a purely sexual connection with someone who has no interest in getting to know you or establishing a deeper, more meaningful connection.

Fishing dating has its bright and dark sides. Whether to go fishing for the plenty of fish in the sea of online dating or not is a personal choice. Even so, it helps to understand the way fishing on the internet to protect yourself from such overtures, if nothing else.

Here are 7 things you need to know about fishing dating:

1. They begin with old school messages

Fishing begins with old-school, seemingly harmless, messages like, “What’s up?” or “How’s everything going?” Now, it doesn’t mean that every time you receive such generic messages from potential matches, it’s a sign that someone is fishing. So, how do spot fishing accurately?

Sarah, a young professional from Manhattan, learned it the hard way. She had connected with a guy on a dating app, who’d pop up in her chat inbox every once in a while with similar conversation starters. She’d respond, and it’d inevitably turn out to be a booty call.

Eventually, she began to see a pattern. These messages came in late at night. Typically, on weekends. So, you see the catch here is the time at which the message is sent. If you’re getting these messages late at night and it seems that it’s like a booty call, you’re being fished.

This person is just waiting for the right person to catch the bait so that they can get some action.

Girl on phone
Someone is fishing

2. They are copy pasted messages

Maya and Reena worked in the same office, and had near-identical demographic profiles. Both were using the same dating app, lived close-by and had the same work addresses. Naturally, there were a lot of common matches on their dating profiles.

One day, they got talking over a coffee break. The discussion veneered toward dating experiences, and they discovered that there was this one guy who was sending them both the exact same messages at the same time and day. It didn’t take them long to realize they were being fished.

One of the tell-tale indicators of fishing dating is that the person resorting to it copy-pastes the same message and sends it out to multiple contacts. That’s because they use the responses to decide who to take the conversation forward with.

The comparison becomes easier when everyone is responding to the same question. Besides, it’s just convenient to just copy-paste-send rather than think of creative ways to start a conversation with different people.

If your responses are slow, fishers swiftly lose interest and move on.

Related Reading: My Boyfriend Is Flirting Online with Other Girls

3. It’s not just on online dating

Couple with friends
It’s not just on online dating

Fishing dating isn’t just limited to online dating apps. You can find fishers on social media, platforms such as TikTok, as well as in real life settings such as between friends, flings or even exes. What does fishing mean on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and in real life?

Well, the process remains pretty much the same. It’s just the medium that changes. For instance, on social media platforms, a person may slide into your DMs with similar generic messages such as ‘What’s up?’ or ‘What have you been up to?’ The pattern of late night and erratic messaging remains.

Similarly, an ex may have a tendency to touch base with you in a similar manner whenever they want to get some no-strings-attached action. Among friends, fishing can happen over messengers and personal chats.

Fishing is all about choosing from a pool of people and hooking up with one. My friend Sam went to parties and fished women. The source doesn’t matter. It all boils down to having options to choose from for one’s sexual exploits on any given day.

4. It’s a numbers game

Fishing dating is all about numbers. It’s about how many people you feel like fishing today and which would you choose as your top 2 or 3. Out of your top picks, you decide whom you want to hook up with and move forward.

How many you fish at first doesn’t matter, it’s all about how many you want to hook up with at the end. Well, this is just a start to millennial relationship problems!

Typically, as a person becomes better versed and more confident in the game of fishing dating, they tend to expand their net as well. Say, if someone is fishing with just 4 or 5 prospects in the beginning, they may gradually start reaching out to 10 or 15 people at once.

To be able to do that, they connect with potential matches and right swipe in abundance, so that there is never a dearth of options.

5. Fishing dating is common

Fishing is not something that has evolved recently. It’s something that you may have been doing before online dating came in vogue and have only now realized that it’s called fishing dating. Imagine you going to a party and finding 4-5 handsome men.

You like all of them but don’t know which one will be your match because you haven’t got to know them yet. You give all of them your number, which is where you spread your net. Out of the 5, 3 of them call you and this is them catching the bait. From the 3, you choose whom you want to hook up with and that’s where you’re done fishing.

Many even argue that there is nothing wrong with the practice of casting a wide net. After all, isn’t that what we do with our friends or family when making plans for an outing. A fishing relationship is a lot like that too.

For example, if you want to do to the movies over the weekend, you reach out to a handful of friends or perhaps drop a text in a chat group. Then, take the plan forward with those who express their interest.

However, such claims are contentious because unlike going to the movies or getting dinner, this leads to being sexually intimate with the fish you catch. Feelings can get hurt, self-esteems bruised if the other person isn’t okay with the idea of being treated as ‘one of the options’.

Couple on a date

6. It’s about hook ups

Fishing dating is a more sophisticated way of hooking up. While there is no denying that it is possible to find love as well as flings and hookups through online dating, fishing has a much narrowers scope. It is done with the singular objective of soliciting sex.

You explore your options in the sea of suitable matches and pick one. This is not about finding true love but about exploring the best option available at that time. If you’re looking for love and meaningful companionship, fishing dating isn’t for you.

It’s best to steer clear and nip the advances in the bud if you sense that someone is fishing. Don’t go with the flow, hoping that things might just work out for you. The intent of the fisher couldn’t be more different from yours. So, you will only end up getting hurt or being reduced to a booty call.

Even if you like the person a lot, know that someone who is fishing is definitely not looking for something serious. Move on. After all, there is a plenty of fish in the sea!

Related Reading: It was supposed to be only sex and I spoilt it by falling in love with him

7. It is offensive

Fishing dating is offensive to those who have been fished. Many of them have no idea that they are just one of the many options and begin to imagine something more meaningful with the fisher without any idea that they are being fished.

Some of them have a vague idea about it and go on with it. As long as you’re making an informed choice and are okay with someone’s flavor of the day, it’s fine. But if you’re caught in it unawares, fishing dating can deal a severe blow to your sense of confidence and self-esteem.

Fishing dating is a millennial dating trend that has evolved because of several dating apps being available at your fingertips. Fishing dating is a sophisticated version of a booty call. When it comes to fishing dating, some people know that they are being fished and don’t take offense because it is something they’ve done before. While for others looking for something more serious, fishing dating is offensive and makes them feel like an object and an option.


1. What does it mean when someone says you’re fishing?

You’re fishing means that you’re reaching out to several romantic interests or prospects simultaneously, in the hope that at least some will respond. When they do, you sift through your choices to pick the best available option. The end goal here is hooking up casually.

2. What does fishing mean sexually?

The concept of fishing, at least in its present form, always has a sexual connotation. The person who is fishing is essentially looking for some action and is reaching out to multiple people to improve the odds of getting it. It’s a sophisticated booty call.

3. Is fishing cruel?

Yes, fishing can be cruel to the person who is being fished. Even more so, if they have no idea of the ulterior motives at play here.

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