‘Dreamscaping’ Is Rampant in the Dating World—Here’s How to Know If You’ve Been Duped

what is dreamscaping

He tells you that he sees a future with you. He puts date nights on the calendar, asks what your mom’s name is, insists on meeting your friends, calls after sex and even plans romantic little getaways. 

And then one day, he says he’s not so sure about you. He’s confused. He’s not in a position to be serious with anyone right now. And all of a sudden, you’re retracing the relationship, wondering what you did wrong, where you missed the signs. Spoiler alert: There were no signs.

Yeah. You’ve been dreamscaped, my friend. 

What on earth is ‘dreamscaping’?

Dreamscapers are people who exhibit a pattern of building castle-in-the-clouds relationships that fool the person they’re seeing into thinking it was not only something real but something fantastic. The fantasy they create is a sight to see, but there’s nothing to support it. When it crumbles, you’re not prepared, but they walk away unscathed and move on to the next fairy tale.

Dreamscapers are commitment-phobes at heart, but they’re unaware of their own compulsion. Because they desire all the good things that come with a relationship (and none of the bad), they stay in the dating pool wreaking havoc. 

Is dreamscaping the same as leading someone on?

Kinda…but no. When someone leads you on, they’re typically conscious of the fact that they don’t have feelings for you but are getting something out of the experience—attention, sex, thrill, game playing, etc. (Yeah, it’s still shady AF.)

Dreamscapers, on the other hand, are surrealists. They’re not aware that their visions for these relationships are grounded in magical thinking. They create the ideal atmosphere for dating through their language and actions—the metaphorical version of a dreamy outdoor bistro bedecked in twinkling fairy lights. But the second the relationship exits the butterflies phase and starts to get real, the façade drops—you were eating cold pizza on an empty sound stage the whole time.

Why would someone fall for a dreamscaper?

Dreamscapers are good at dating, and they’re good at making people fall for them. They don’t overthink their actions unless they have to (gasp!) change them. They read emotions and vibes crazy well and know exactly what their dates want to hear, building that castle in the clouds brick by brick. They connect easily, but they don’t attach. Hell, it’s hard not to fall for a dreamscaper.

How do I avoid being ‘dreamscaper’?

Remember: No one magically knows you after one date; no one is perfect; and if it feels too good to be true, that’s probably the case. Be wary of early promises and declarations of intentions. The best prospects act on their feelings before they say it. If a relationship is going in the right direction, they wouldn’t shy away from the commitment talk, which makes a dreamscaper squirm. A person who’s really, truly into you also shows up for you, and not just when it’s fun and things are amaaaazing, but when you really need them—your car broke down, you’re sick, you’re dealing with a family crisis. And if a dreamscaper does happen to reel you in, remind yourself that you deserve better than a dream. You deserve something real.

Jenna Birch is a journalist and the author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love, a relationship-building guide for modern women, as well as a dating coach (accepting new clients for 2020). To ask her a question, which she may answer in a forthcoming PureWow column, email her at

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