You spend all week getting hyped for your date on Saturday night. You pick out the perfect outfit, make dinner reservations at that trendy new spot, and make sure your place is spotless just in case things go really well. But then Saturday comes...and goes...with not so much as a text from your would-be romantic partner. No rain check, no excuse, nothing - they just vanished into thin air like a magician's assistant. 

Welcome to the cruel world of cloaking - the younger, more insidious cousin of ghosting. While ghosting refers to someone dropping off the face of the earth after you've been seeing each other for a while, cloaking is the act of pulling an Irish goodbye before you've even had a chance to meet up. And folks, it's becoming an epidemic in the world of online dating.

What Exactly is Cloaking?

Cloaking is the latest insidious dating trend that takes ghosting to a whole new level of disrespect. While ghosting refers to someone suddenly cutting off all communication without explanation after you've been seeing each other for a while, cloaking is far more calculated and premeditated.

Cloaking is when someone makes a date plan with you - whether it's your first date after matching online or your twentieth date after dating for months. You agree on a specific day, time, and place to meet up. You start getting ready, hyping yourself up, and making whatever pre-date preparations are needed for the occasion. But then...nothing. Radio silence.

Your date doesn't just not show up - they completely disappear without a single word of communication, warning, or excuse. No apologetic last-minute text saying they can't make it, no fake emergency, not even a lame excuse after the fact. They simply let you show up to the intended meeting place, dressed and ready, only to never arrive themselves. It's the dating equivalent of a magician's disappearing act, leaving you feeling confused, disrespected, and embarrassed.

Unlike ghosting, which is the cowardly action of someone avoiding confrontation by just Cloaking could happen after you've been dating someone for months and they suddenly decide to end things in the most heartless way possible. Or it could happen right after matching and before you've even met, leaving you to wonder what you possibly could have done wrong before ever making real-life contact. No matter when it occurs, it's an immensely disrespectful move that can leave psychological scars.

Ghosting vs. Cloaking

Cloaking is the fittingly spooky slang term for what's essentially advanced-level ghosting. While your run-of-the-mill ghost will simply stop responding to texts and calls after you've been on a date or two, a cloaker takes things a sadistic step further. 

With cloaking, they not only agree to a specific date and time to meet up - they let you make plans, get ready and show up to the intended location. And then...*poof!* They dematerialize, leaving you high and dry without so much as a "can't make it" text. It's not just rude, it's strategic rudeness.

Why Do People Cloak?

1. Fear of confrontation/rejection

Cloaking allows the person to avoid an awkward or uncomfortable conversation where they have to reject someone directly. By simply not showing up, they sidestep any emotional confrontation. However, this behavior is extremely immature and cowardly.

2. Lack of dating experience/social skills  

Some people, especially those new to the dating scene, may lack the emotional intelligence and skills to communicate properly. Instead of being upfront, they take the path of least resistance - cloaking - because they don't know how to handle the situation better.

3. Pursuit of validation  

In some cases, cloakers may get a self-esteem boost or ego trip from having multiple people pursuing them and making plans. By not following through, they get to feel desired without any real commitment.

4. Indecisiveness/Flakiness

Cloakers could simply be chronically indecisive or flaky people who make plans they have no intention of keeping. This speaks to their lack of respect for others' time and efforts.

5. They met someone else

After making initial plans, the cloaker may have started talking to or dating someone else they became more interested in. Instead of owning up, they choose to simply not show up.

Whatever the psychological reasons, one thing's for sure - cloaking is a major red flag that instantly raises questions about someone's maturity and respect for others. If they'll go ghost on a simple date plan, just imagine the mind games if you actually started dating them!

Why Cloaking is a Major Red Flag

Cloaking isn't just a minor dating faux pas - it's a blazing red warning sign that should have you running for the hills. 

Reasons include:

1. Disrespectful and inconsiderate

Cloaking shows a blatant disregard for the other person's time, efforts, and emotions. It's an incredibly selfish act that wastes the other person's day and energy spent getting ready. At its core, cloaking is a disrespectful no-show move.

2. Lack of maturity and communication skills

The ability to communicate effectively and have difficult conversations is a basic hallmark of maturity. By cloaking, the person reveals an inability to practice these skills and instead takes the cowardly way out. It's an immature approach to dating.

3. Emotionally damaging 

For the person on the receiving end, being cloaked can lead to confusion, hurt, anxiety, and self-doubt. It inevitably leaves you questioning what you did wrong and can be a blow to your self-esteem.

4. Signals unreliability and manipulation

If someone is willing to so carelessly disregard your feelings from the very start, it highlights a potential for continued unreliable and manipulative behavior. Cloaking is a major red flag about their Character.

5. Destroys trust and respect

By literally standing you up with zero explanation, the cloaker shows they have no respect for you as a person. This breach of trust poisons the relationship from the outset, making future trust extremely difficult.

Ultimately, cloaking should be viewed as a bright red waving banner signaling "unreliable!" and "manipulative tendencies!" If someone is so careless with your feelings and time from the get-go, continuing to pursue them would likely only lead to a world of potential frustration and heartbreak down the line. Trust that vanishing act and promptly show yourself the door.

Impacts of Cloaking

While being cloaked may just seem like an inconvenient disappointment, the effects can actually run much deeper and more damaging. Cloaking can have a significant negative impact in several ways:

1. Erosion of self-esteem

Being cloaked out of nowhere can deal a serious blow to your self-worth and self-confidence. You're left questioning what you did wrong and feeling rejected, despite having no explanation. This self-doubt can linger.

2. Emotional distress

In addition to blows to your self-esteem, being cloaked causes emotional distress. You may feel confused, anxious, sad, angry, and hurt all at once with no outlet or closure. These intense emotions can be psychologically taxing.

3. Trust issues 

Having someone disappear so abruptly without a trace can breed serious trust issues when it comes to dating again. You may have trouble opening up or putting faith in new potential partners.

4. Fear and safety concerns

In some cases, being cloaked can even trigger legitimate fear and safety concerns, especially if the ghosting occurs without any communication after you've arrived at the intended meetup location.  

5. Bitter jading

Over time, a pattern of being cloaked can make even the most optimistic people bitter, jaded, and closed off to dating altogether. The disappointments stack up and jade your perspective.

Cloaking isn't just rude, it's psychologically impactful and damaging behavior. Looking out for the red flags and prioritizing your self-worth is vital to conserving your emotional wellbeing.

How to Protect Yourself from Cloaking

1. Be selective with pre-date conversations

Avoid overly lengthy or intimate conversations before meeting up, as this can create an unnecessary emotional investment. Keep things light until you've met in person.

2. Prioritize safety

Suggest meeting in a public place for the first date to protect yourself. Never put yourself in a compromising situation with someone you barely know.

3. Emphasize clear communication

If you're not interested in meeting up, politely decline the date ahead of time. Don't ghost or cloak - have the courtesy to communicate your stance.

4. Build self-esteem 

Remember, being cloaked isn't a reflection on your worth as a person. Focus on building confidence in yourself, not seeking validation externally.

Should You Call Out the Cloaker?

Different people may prefer to handle being cloaked in different ways:

1. Move on immediately

Some may choose to simply cut their losses and move on without wasting more energy on someone who lacks basic courtesy and decency.

2. Send a brief message 

Others may want to (politely) call out the behavior by sending a message expressing disappointment at being stood up without communication. However, make it clear you're not expecting an excuse - just requesting basic respect going forward.

No matter which approach you take, it's important to maintain your self-respect. Don't resort to insults or emotional outbursts - rise above and be the bigger person.

At the end of the day, cloaking is a immature, inconsiderate dating behavior that you simply don't need in your life. You deserve to pursue healthy interactions built on mutual respect and clear communication. Don't let getting cloaked once shake your confidence - their poor behavior is a reflection on them, not you. Stay empowered, prioritize your self-worth, and keep putting yourself out there to find someone who genuinely deserves your time and emotional investment. The right person will show up