'Gophering' is *not* a cutesy ghosting alternative—in fact, it's just as awful

Though 'gophering' is a term attached to an animal, you won't find us saying 'aww' anytime soon about this toxic dating trend

Close up or woman using smart phone
(Image credit: Getty)

Despite the lil' critter attached to its name, "gophering" is not a dating practice that will make us coo. 

Like ghosting and its over-the-top older cousin mosting—with a splash of OnlyPlans mixed in—gophering is one of those irritating behaviors that might make you feel like abandoning online dating altogether. We'll guide you on what's happening with this annoying trend and how to work through its frustrations. (Stay positive folks, you got this!) 

What is 'gophering'? 

Named after Mother Nature's little tunnelers, "gophering" is when you match with someone virtually and develop a digital connection, only to be ghosted or unmatched before you can meet in real life. It's essentially tunneling back into the abyss, and it can make anyone searching for love feel defeated. 

Why are singles 'gophering'?

Neil Dutta, the managing director at engagement ring specialist Angelic Diamonds, who helped conduct research on current dating trends believes that the reason for these types of behaviors is likely due to an overwhelming amount of options. 

"The increasing number of dating apps and social media apps may have made it easier to connect with people, however, this means it’s even easier to disconnect from someone when things don’t work out," he previously told My Imperfect Life. "Unfortunately, this has led to a culture of disposable relationships where people don't take the time to develop fundamental emotional connections and instead focus on instant gratification."

And as much as it might sting to admit, people might only be interested in building things up and forming a connection to boost their own ego. 

"By making someone feel extremely special and loved, they’re more likely to receive the same level of attention and affection back, which naturally makes them feel good," Dutta says. "However, once they then feel better about themselves, they lose interest and decide to end the relationship as they’ve got everything out of it that they initially wanted, even if it was just subconsciously."

How to avoid the disappointment that comes with 'gophering'

Though it might be impossible to avoid altogether, there are ways to weed away the bad options. The first thing you'll need to do is know what you want. 

"Know why you're dating. Know what you're out there in the field looking around," Too Hot To Handle's intimacy coach Brenden Durell told us. "Be clear in your intention because that will set the foreground."

And once you know what it is you want, be truthful from the get-go, lest you waste your time or someone else's.

"Relationships take time and effort to build and strengthen, so if you’re looking for something more serious, you’re going to have to put in the effort," Shannon Smith, resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish told us.

Put in said effort immediately to eliminate the fish that are only interested in "expirationships," or perhaps even less. Durrell is all for taking the time to let emotions marinate—the key to some successful relationships. 

"The apps make people chase fireworks, and look for the "boom," Durell added. "They're seeing people for these little squares, they're not able to tap into a person's heart through a screen. Give people more time to express who they are and vice versa."

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.