'Gophering' occurs when a dating app match bails out before meeting IRL.
You've probably heard of ghosting, when someone you're seeing or dating breaks off all communication overnight; now there's also 'gophering,' when you get stood up before even meeting in real life (IRL)—a trend that prevents any potential relationship from forming. Here's how it works.
Imagine the scene: you've just matched with someone on a dating app, you're chatting, it's going well, and soon you decide you'd like to meet up. But an hour before your scheduled date, they suddenly cancel. You've fallen victim to 'gophering.' This trend involves arranging a first date to meet someone you're interested in, only to have them cancel at the last minute or sometimes contact being lost after just the suggestion of meeting up for real. But unlike 'ghosting,' where you actually get to meet your date in real life, 'gophering' prevents you from ever meeting anyone at all. An annual report from the dating app Plenty of Fish had already spotted this unfortunate trend back in 2022, but under a different name, "Only Plans," described as repeatedly planning dates only to cancel them at the last minute. Some 52% of dating app users confessed to having fallen victim to this, according to the report.
So what's going on? Today, the possibility of wasting time and effort can seem frightening to many singles, leading to a hesitant attitude towards the first date. 'Ghosting,' which involves not answering a person's calls and messages from one day to the next, has become the easiest way to call things off. A study shared by the Daily Mail reported that 71% of Generation Z and 72% of Millennials have already broken off communications overnight. But 'ghosting,' like 'gophering,' are trends that can ultimately mask a fear of rejection. Also read: Inside Bumble's next phase of growth
Clinical counselor and sexologist, Stacey Diane Arañez Litam, told Forbes that breaking off any potential relationship may seem "psychologically safer" for some people, as they don't need to "face the vulnerability and discomfort that comes with the potential for abandonment and change." However, Alix Fox, a relationship specialist and a script consultant on Netflix's "Sex Education," told Glamour magazine that people who resort to 'gophering' might "selfishly like the ego boost of knowing you’ll eagerly say yes to any meet-up they suggest."
If you've ever been 'gophered' or 'ghosted,' you may have felt hurt, devalued, anxious or even frustrated. Dr. Litam adds: "People may internalize unhelpful beliefs about being ghosted that minimizes their self-worth or invalidates their inherent worthiness of love or connection. They may engage in personalization scripts that include, ‘If only I was smart enough, attractive enough or somehow better, then this would not have happened.’ In reality, the issue tends to lie with the person doing the ghosting, not the person being ghosted." In other words, if it happens to you, don't feel guilty because it's not your fault.