Dating Glossary: Cloaking
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.