Cloaking Is The Latest Dating Trend That Takes Ghosting To A Whole New Level

For many people, dating seems to be more complex than ever. We admit it: dating has gotten so much harder over the last decade. With social media, dating apps, and a whole dictionary of terms tossed around in conversations about relationships, singles do not have it easy when it comes to finding love — after all, it seems fewer people are interested in a relationship than years prior. A 2021 study from Rutgers University and the University of Albany revealed that fewer young people are engaging in casual sex than a decade ago.

It's not all bad, though. Some terms describe the happier parts of romance. Wanderlove — a form of relationship that revolves around traveling — might indeed transform your life. However, the precarious social media dating scene has also led to a dating term — roaching, a trend that just won't die — that describes a potentially harmful practice.

Now, we have another term to add to that ever-growing dictionary for daters to learn as they embark on the dating scene: cloaking.

A new form of ghosting that is even worse has emerged

You are likely familiar with the term "ghosting." If you're not, here's a quick recap. When you suddenly can't get in touch with the person you are interested in —through social media, text, or every plan seems to fall through — someone may have ghosted you. And now, a new form of ghosting has gained popularity.

"Cloaking" describes a dating practice that is somehow ruder than ghosting. Los Angeles-based psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., described cloaking as being "stood up for a first date" but with an extra twist. "[Y]ou are also blocked by the other person on any app that you and he or she had been conversing on," Thomas said. Not only have you been left on your own, but you have absolutely no way to contact the person you have been talking to.

The term cloaking appeared to develop with the rise of dating apps like Tinder and Hinge. Mashable's Rachel Thompson claims to have termed the term and described her experience with being cloaked by an online date.

Thompson had met someone on Hinge. He organized their date, but when Thompson texted him to say she was on her way, everything — his profile and their conversations on the app — disappeared. Then Thompson figured it out: he had blocked her. Even though dating is all about "putting yourself out there," some seem to prefer making themselves invisible at the cost of another's confidence.

Cloaking is all about being invisible

How can you avoid cloaking? Unfortunately, you can't know when someone you're chatting with will end up being a jerk who stands you up and blocks you. But if you have been cloaked, you may be wondering what to do next. Licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert Tara Fields, Ph.D., said that no matter what, you have to remember your worth. "You can't let past wounds get in the way of your happiness, or let a stranger elicit self-doubt and pain," Fields told Women's Health.

Although you may have the urge to get back into contact with the person who has cloaked you to tell them just how un-cool their behavior was, you shouldn't waste your time trying to reach out to them. Yes, rejection hurts. But you wouldn't have wanted to spend time with a person who treats people like that anyway. 

So, why do people cloak others on dating apps anyway? Some may feel more emboldened to say or do things that they would never do IRL. Social researcher Joanne Orlando credits dating via phones with some toxic behaviors. "By making someone else feel bad, some app users make themselves feel better," Orlando told The Guardian. "And what's worse, they are doing this behind the semi-anonymous shield of the internet." Though the consequences feel real to you, they may not sink in for the cloaker. Navigating dating online can be tough, but know that if someone has cloaked you, you have dodged a bullet.