This buzzy dating term applies perfectly to one woman's recent frustrating relationship.
I’ve had quite a few ghost encounters as a millennial navigating the dating scene in New York City. There was the one presidential hopeful (that should have been the first warning sign, I know) who semi-joked about finding his First Lady—then poof, he disappeared. Or the vacation fling who vanished faster than my tan. But by far the most infuriating one was my oh-so-friendly ghost.
“Caspering” is the latest buzzy dating term that my coworkers started talking about during a meeting last week. It's been defined as a friendly type of ghosting. The person no longer asks you out or suggests any kind of future plans, but whenever you text them, they'll dutifully and kindly respond, like nothing's amiss.
Last fall, I met my Casper at a mutual friend’s party. We bonded over our neighboring hometowns and talked for over two hours. I gave him my number. It's a meet-cute! I thought to myself, floored by the fact that no swiping or awkward one-liner texts were involved.
We had our first date and ended up talking, flirting, and yes, kissing, at a bar until 3 a.m. On our second date, he was already planning our third.
“What’s your least favorite sport to watch?” he asked in his once-charming, now cringe-worthy wryness.
“Planning a third date already?” I quipped, almost surprised by my own confidence. “That’s pretty presumptuous.”
One hockey game, a few dinners, and several casual hangouts later, we were seeing each other on a regular basis. The holidays were coming up and we had the terrifying exclusivity conversation and made plans to get together while we were on vacation. Back home in California, he met my two best friends and subtly mentioned he told his parents about me.
The night of New Year’s Eve, we FaceTimed from a few hundred miles away as the ball dropped. (Yes, it was horrifically corny.) And New Year’s Day, he picked me up from the airport and we grabbed pizza. For non-New Yorkers reading this, going to LaGuardia for someone other than yourself is big. He joked that it was the nicest thing he’s ever done.
We had been texting every day and things seemed to be cruising. I distinctly remember thinking, Wow, this one’s actually going to stick around. He didn’t want to label anything, but our mutual friend claimed he was “smitten.” All the while, my Casper kept teasing that he would eventually ghost me, getting a kick out of my incessant eye rolls. (I should note that while writing this summary, I see all of the red flags flying more clearly than before.)
When we had been dating for about eight weeks, our friends asked us (separately) if we felt okay committing to a double date in two weeks. We both laughed at how we’d probably break up by then.
The double date happened and ended with him inviting me to his friend’s beach house. It was four months away, so I felt pretty secure about where things were headed. (At the very least, to the Jersey Shore for Memorial Day weekend.)
And that was the last time I saw him.
What makes him the most friendly ghost of all is how that was not the last time I talked to him. We texted during his “insanely busy” next two weeks and while I noticed that I was initiating conversations more than usual, he always responded—always. Even stranger, my phone would ping with a reply within seconds. He avoided making plans but was always there for a reply (and continued “orbiting,” viewing all of my Instagram and Snapchat stories).
I didn’t let Casper get away, though. After two weeks of "I’m busy" and "I’ll let you know," I called him and we hashed it out. He gave me the classic, "It's not the right time right now" line. When I told him that the way he handled things was the worst way to break things off, he replied with something like, "It's not that I'm not interested. If something happens in the future, great..." Cue my eye roll.
That being said, I learned a few things from the experience. Caspering seems to be the version of ghosting that makes the guy feel better about himself—his way of saying Hey, look at me! I'm not an asshole! But when a Casper refuses to be cut and dry, sometimes you just have to do your own ghostbusting.