I was in the middle of researching the best cooling mattresses when my cousin called me: “The weirdest thing just happened on Hinge,” she said. The Casper Snow could wait. “I matched with a guy (who was cute enough), and we’ve been small talking on the app for a few days,” she started. “This morning, I opened the conversation to see he sent his digits and wrote, ‘Text me so we can set up a date.’ Yet, when I went to type in his number an hour later, he unmatched me and the conversation disappeared. Why would someone do that?” she cross-examined. And while I had to acknowledge; dangling your number like a carrot stick is…strange, I chalked it up to him being a weirdo. “On to the next,” I advised.
But then, three hours later, I received a bizarrely similar call from my friend Jake. “The weirdest thing just happened on Bumble,” he said. Was I having déjà vu? He went on to explain: “I matched with this girl, we talked for a week, and I asked her to grab dinner (she agreed). But when I followed up with a time and restaurant this morning, she immediately unmatched me…What was the point of that?”
Clearly, there’s a pattern here. It’s not quite ghosting—which would look like someone leading you on (or at least showing up for a first date) before abruptly ending the relationship—and it’s not a curve; the person would have to communicate that they’re rejecting your advances. So, since my peers’ frustration with this phenomenon mimics the angry sweat you break into while playing a game of Whac-A-Mole, I’m giving it a name: Gophering.
Basically, gophering is the precept whereby after you match with someone on a dating app—and put time and effort into making (days, or sometimes weeks of) small talk—the potential suitor jumps ship at the prospect of taking things IRL. The person sucks up your witty banter and flirtatious one-liners, much like Punxsutawney Phil soaking up the sun, only to disappear at the first sign of contact. Plus, unlike ghosting, gophering stops the relationship from sprouting past the seed stage. You’re precipitously robbed of a potential crush, along with the excitement of meeting someone you can actually hold a conversation with (from behind the screen, of course).