'Cloaking' Is The New Dating Trend That’s Way More Savage Than GhostingApril 18, 2019
Picture this: You were all excited about your date from Bumble, but when you got to the bar, your match never even showed up… So, you do what any normal (and okay, a little nervous) stood-up person would and open the dating app. That’s when you notice… you two are no longer matches. There’s no way to ask, “Are you coming?” or contact them at all. They’ve just disappeared.
There’s a name for what just happened to you: “cloaking.”
What does “cloaking” mean?
The term “cloaking” was coined by Londoner Rachel Thompson “after a truly terrible dating experience” on Hinge. In a video for Mashable, she describes it as such: “It’s being stood up but, like, extra.” That means, along with standing you up for a planned date, they unmatch with you on dating apps (so all the convos you’ve had disappear), and also block you on other apps you’ve communicated on. She likens this practice to donning a Harry Potter invisibility cloak.
Rachel admits the whole experience was humiliating when it happened to her—but also super-common. After she talked about it on Twitter, a ton of people responded to her, saying the same thing happened to them. She came up with the term “cloaking” as a way to unite fellow frustrated daters.
Why would you get cloaked? And what should you do if it happens?
Uh, because the other person is a jerk (but you already knew that). “This is an extreme form of ghosting,” says Tara Fields, PhD, a licensed psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now. They’re trying to avoid short-term discomfort and take the coward’s way out, she explains.
In Rachel’s case, she was able to Google her date (since Hinge provides last names) and find his work contact info. She wanted to tell him that what he did was not cool (tbh, I’d just straight-up call him a dick). She ended up Facebook messaging him, and he didn’t respond (shocker).
Fields says the desire to respond to rejection in this way is understandable. “If you like them and have hope, this hurts more,” she says. But remember, “this is someone who doesn’t have the integrity to say, ‘It was great meeting you, but I’m getting back together with my ex’ or ‘I don’t think we’re a good match.'” You just dodged a bullet, she says.
It stings, yes, and it’s totally normal to think that the problem was with you, but it’s all about them—especially if they cloaked before they even met you. “For women, rejection like this can trigger past experiences,” says Fields. “You can’t let past wounds get in the way of your happiness, or let a stranger elicit self-doubt and pain.”
As for the temptation to do some light detective work to contact them and give them a piece of your mind, just don’t. “A ‘no’ answer is an answer. You’re still getting information,” Fields says. If you still need to let out your frustrations (fair), vent to your friends about their awfulness, and then move on. It really is the most direct route to get over the sting.
Cloaking is rough, but it’s not the only dating trend you should watch out for this year:
Should you cloak someone?
In general, you should put your big girl pants on and just tell them you’re not interested, even if it means cancelling a date absurdly last minute. Keep it short, keep it simple, and don’t get roped into over-explaining yourself. Try something like: “Thanks so much, but I don’t think we’re a good match.” or “Thanks so much, but I don’t see this going anywhere in the long run.” That’s it.
Consider this an opportunity for self-growth. “Move away from seeing dating as the end goal of finding the person of your dreams and approach it as a path to develop relationship skills, one of which is having difficult conversations,” says Fields. These tough convos will happen when you’re in a healthy, long-term relationship anyway. Might as well practice now.
But wait, there is a time when cloaking is necessary.
Actually, two times. One: You sent them a nice “thanks, but I’m going to cancel/we’re not a match message/I’ll pass on the date” and they come back raging that you’re ugly/dumb/no one wants to sleep with you, anyway. (Btw, replying in a viscous, hurtful way is a trait of a narcissist, says Fields.) In that case, cloak away! You’re under no obligation to receive and absorb their hate.
Another healthy reason to cloak is if you feel in danger, or your privacy has been violated in some way, says Fields. And it doesn’t have to be a threat of physical violence. Maybe they’re creepy, you’re seeing red flags, and—for whatever reason—your gut is screaming that you don’t feel safe. Cloak. “Women start doubting themselves, but we have this great gift of a BS meter and a fantastic sense of intuition,” she says. “Trust those instincts.”
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