Gophering: The Toxic Dating App Trend That Prevents Meeting IRL

Being single on a dating app can be pure torture these days. After a while of swiping, the profiles can all just seem the same. If you do match with someone, the conversation can quickly go stale. Really, we can only answer "How are you?" or "What are you up to?" so many times before our heads explode. But then, sometimes you start chatting with someone, and the conversation is actually decent. They're funny! They're charming! They're interested in you and they get all of your jokes! Wait, they like Star Trek too and live for Captain Picard? Oh dear, it's easy to get excited to meet them in person. So, just your luck, they suggest a date!


You organize a place and a time and break out your favorite date outfit from the back of the closet. But then, something strange happens: they cancel the date, and there's no rain check. Okay, so they haven't exactly ghosted you, and thank heavens they didn't stand you up! But apparently, making plans and then jumping ship right before you're about to meet up in person is a whole new dating trend that we have to be aware of. Experts are calling it "gophering," and here's all you need to know about it.

Gophering is a trend on the rise

You may have already heard of gophering; some people call the dating trend "OnlyPlans," or "hesi-dating," or even the comical "Lonely Planner."

By any other name, the trend still stinks. You've sunk so much of your time and your charm into chatting with this person on a dating app for a while before working your way up to a real-life meet-cute, and they just cancel! It's frustrating, but it turns out it's more common than we might realize. In the dating app Plenty of Fish's annual report, gophering is the act of making plans to meet up with someone you're romantically interested in only to end up canceling them using any ole excuse. Sadly, 52% of singles have fallen victim to gophering.


It gets worse across age groups. According to a recent UK survey reported by The Daily Mail, 72% of millennials reported being the victim of this trend. Interestingly enough, the study showed 71% of Gen Z'ers have said they were the perpetrators of this trend!

So, why on earth would someone do this? Aren't they on a dating app to, you know, meet people?! Experts say it may come down to insecurity.

Gophering may be a sign of insecurity

If you've been gophered, you may feel hurt, confused, and slighted. You might find yourself questioning yourself, and if you did anything wrong. But experts say that the insecurity actually lies with the gopher-er. Clinical counselor Stacey Diane Arañez Litam told Forbes that gophering might feel "psychologically safer" for them because they can't "face the vulnerability and discomfort that comes with the potential for abandonment and change.[People who are gophered] 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."


Or perhaps, the gopher-er just needs a day planner and better time management. "Sometimes, it's genuinely a product of someone struggling to manage their hectic schedule, but unfortunately, dithering about locking a date in the diary can also be a sign that someone's simply not that interested in you," Plenty of Fish relationship guru Alix Fox told Glamour. "They may be uncertain about whether they truly want to date anyone properly at all."

Fox adds the caveat that maybe you were just a pawn in their ego game. "Or perhaps they selfishly like the ego boost of knowing you'll eagerly say yes to any meet up they suggest," she said. 

So if you've been gophered, don't take it to heart because it's not about you! And if you're the gopher-er, it might be time to engage in some therapeutic activities to boost your self-esteem (and get a day planner).