Dating Glossary: Cloaking

Move aside ghosting, this one is way worse.


(Last Updated on April 11, 2021 by Datezie Editors)

As dating has evolved to a much more digital landscape, a slew of new words and trends have emerged, requiring singles to brush up on their knowledge before diving in. To ensure you’re up to date and ready to tackle the ever-changing vocabulary, reference Datezie’s Dating Glossary. Our collection defines, explains—and offers humor and strategy—to the new ABC’s of falling in love.

TLDR: Cloaking: standing someone up on a date before you meet them — then blocking them in every way possible digitally. Yikes.

In theory, online dating is meant to expand your net of possibility. Suddenly, you can access a vast amount of people you otherwise would have never met or come across. But with many, many more ways to meet the love of your life, there comes just as many avenues to be, well, rejected. Burned. Forgotten about. Disgraced. And though we’ve talked about ghosting and catfishing, we are convinced cloaking might be one of the worst experiences to have as a single someone. If you have ever been left high and dry, right when you thought you were onto something wonderful, you have been through a cloaking experience. Here, the unfortunate info you need to know about this new-ish dating glossary term:

What is Cloaking?

Before we define cloaking, let’s brush up on our ghosting knowledge: when someone ghosts you, it’s after you’ve been out with them a few times. This can be super-frustrating, especially if you felt a connection. With cloaking, it goes a step further and happens before you ever meet face-to-face, according to psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. “Cloaking is a relatively new phenomenon that’s been occurring in the dating world. Cloaking means that not only are you stood up for a first date, but you are also blocked by the other person on any app that you and he or she had been conversing on,” she explains. In other words? You are waiting idly at a bar, thinking this promising person you have been chattin’ in up with for months is on his or her way to meet you… and you realized they’ve vanished. You have no way of asking them what happened, and well, you’re basically left in the dark — hence, ‘cloak.’

Where Did Cloaking Come From?

With any internet theory, it’s impossible to know exactly where a term derives from, but our best guess is cloaking was the brainchild of Rachel Thompson. After she had a negative experience in London where the dude completely stood her up — and cloaked her — she wrote about it. Considering a Brit labeled this experience, it probably isn’t surprising that the inspiration for ‘cloaking’ came from the Harry Potter series. As Dr. Thomas explains, Rachel compared cloaking behavior to putting on the invisibility cloak, and thus, making yourself unknown. (If only this magic worked in a different way, eh?)

Why Cloaking Matters

With an uptick in online dating, disrespect runs rampant. Because you don’t have to actually face someone, it’s very easy to ignore messages, block users and move on. However, every single time someone is cloaked, it impacts their sense of self, their confidence and their trust in other people. As Dr. Thomas explains, cloaking can bring out feelings of humiliation, rejection, insecurity and betrayal, and it can trigger old emotional wounds from past relationships. “Any or a combination of these negative effects can lead to feeling distrustful of new love prospects in the future and may prevent one from being able to give new people a fair chance,” she continues. “A person who has been cloaked on may have self-doubts about trusting his or her judgement about selecting the right love interests in the future.”

If you are anxious about being cloaked, there are some ways you can limit the likelihood of this not-so-magical trick happening before your eyes. The biggest key is paying attention, as Dr. Thomas says a cloaker may give him or herself away before you meet up. “If you recognize some contradictions, ask the other person for clarity, which might prompt that person to cloak you since you are onto what may be a scam,” she explains. 

For those of you who have been guilty of cloaking another person, remember it speaks volumes about your character if you’re able to be honest about your interest, rather than disappearing. Just think about how you would feel if a rug was ripped out from underneath you without warning or consideration for your feelings. Though karma might not be a philosophy you subscribe to — the golden rule still applies.

Where You Might Hear Cloaking

Your friend has been over-the-moon over her latest Bumble match and it’s finally the big day when they’re going to meet IRL. You’re watching Netflix and waiting for the details, when she sends off a message that says: “I can’t believe I’ve been cloaked! I really thought this was a genuine person I was going to meet.” Or, if one of your buddies isn’t that hot on a girl he’s matched he may say, “I don’t know, dude, I’m thinking of cloaking her. I just can’t reject her or I’ll feel bad.”

How to Use Cloaking In a Conversation

The act of ‘cloaking’ is standing up someone on a date and then blocking them on social media channels. If you are ‘cloaked’, you’re the victim, and if you’re a ‘cloaker’, you’re the villain. You can interchange all of these, depending on the sentences you’re making. Here, a few to get you started:

“Dude, don’t be a cloaker. That’s not a cool thing to do to someone.”

“I really think I’ve been cloaked. Do I stay for another cocktail or leave?”

“I rarely talk to someone for too long before meeting them, since cloaking is so common.”

Noteable Cloaking Quotes

A nasty new dating trend dubbed ‘cloaking’ is taking the already well-known, cowardly trend of ‘ghosting’ — when a romantic interest stops all communication without any explanation — to a whole new level of appalling.” —Alexandra Klausner 

“Coining the term cloaking has been a cathartic experience and let’s people unite in their experiences of bad dating behavior — reminding you that you are not alone. And you really aren’t — dating is rough.” —Lea Rose Emery

“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.’” —Jessica Migala


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