Have You Been Voicefished? The Dating App Fakery On The Rise

They might not be who they sound like...
Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

It’s common knowledge that when it comes to how we present ourselves online, most of us are trying extremely hard to showcase the best possible versions of ourselves and our lives.

And that also bleeds heavily into dating apps. Everyone there is trying to be the most appealing version of themselves in the hope of landing a match – or better yet, a date with someone.

In recent years we’ve heard of some people resorting to deceptive tactics like catfishing, that can have a far more malicious intent.

And now there is yet another bizarre trend that has emerged on these apps (and elsewhere), where instead of manipulating your entire existence, you’re only manipulating a part of it – and that is voicefishing.

What is voicefishing?

Simply put, voicefishing refers to when someone manipulates their voice through audio or video in order to sound different.

“People may do this to hide their identity by changing the sound and pitch of their voice. They may want to hide their age, gender, ethnicity, or accent,” says Jessica Alderson, a relationships expert at So Syncd.

“Some people even imitate celebrities or other public figures. A whole host of different types of software and applications are now available to help someone achieve this.”

We’ve all intentionally or unintentionally manipulated our voices at some point to sound more important or appealing. For example, some people naturally adapt to the accents of the country they’ve been living in for years, or even deliberately change their accents to hide their ethnicity in order to ‘fit in’.

People might also unintentionally ‘voicefish’ if they have low-quality recording devices, muffled sounds in the background, an echo, technical issues, or incorrectly set input levels for recording, suggests Alderson.

Unintentional voice manipulation is generally harmless, and it will, at most, throw the person off a little when you eventually meet them in person.

But on dating apps, people are intentionally manipulating their voices in order to “sound hotter”, and this has been on the rise thanks to new voice note prompts.

Dating app Hinge polled its users and found almost two-thirds of them said voice is an important factor in determining whether they like someone.

Meanwhile Tinder found 27% of Gen Z users had got the ‘ick’ because of their match’s voice. It’s no wonder then that some people feel the need to change theirs.

Sex therapist Kendra Capalbo understands the motivation behind this, but discourages it because of the ultimate impression it’ll have on your date.

“As someone who is not a fan of my own voice, I can relate to the concept of wishing that I had a different voice when I was in the online dating world, but I can’t imagine I would have ever tried voicefishing,” she says.

“Because if it reaches the point of meeting in person, which is usually the goal, the first impression will be that you are a dishonest person. Even if your date is happy with your normal voice, it starts things off with a sense of mistrust.”

Manipulating voices can be seen as a red flag because it shows a person’s insecurities are much deeper than just changing an accent, according to Monica Yates, a masculine/feminine embodiment coach.

“If you’re wanting to be in a high-quality relationship, you want to be with someone that is fully authentic, confident in themselves, and would never change just to be accepted,” Yates adds.

So how can you tell if someone is voicefishing you?

You can spot voicefishing during the early stages of chatting with someone on a dating app. “If you notice they’re not willing to voice note or call you, and will only ever respond to messages over text, this indicates they could be voicefishing,” says Melissa Stones, a sex and relationships expert at Joy Love Dolls.

It could be for innocent reasons – the person may be embarrassed about the way they speak, or their accent, and may not want you to hear them speak over the phone.

But in some cases, they might have malicious intentions, and could be manipulating their voice as an extension of trying to catfish you, she warns.

“Voicefishing should certainly be considered a deal-breaker when deciding whether or not to pursue a relationship; it infers the other person is prone to lying and may well be hiding other information from you,” says Stones.

In the end, you should never feel pressure to make your voice sound sexier. If someone genuinely likes you, they won’t care what you ‘sound’ like.

“It is not sustainable or good practice to keep up a façade of any kind,” adds Capalbo, “and it is better to just be yourself and find someone who loves you for exactly who you are from the get-go.”

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