If you’ve been on TikTok in the last week, you’ve likely seen the phrase “West Elm Caleb”. Here’s why: a number of women in New York on TikTok say they’ve dated the same man who led them on and ghosted them. But is it fair of them to name and shame him?
Mimi Shou (@meemshou) posted a now-deleted TikTok earlier this month about a New York man who ghosted her. His name was Caleb.
Several women asked in the comments of that video if she was referring to a man known as West Elm Caleb. West Elm Caleb was the alias given to a 20-something man in New York who works for the designer furniture company West Elm.
Shou wasn’t talking about him but the TikTok kicked off a bunch of videos from other women claiming to have gone on dates with this mysterious man.
This one’s dedicated to Caleb. No hard feelings though you were too tall #hinge #basedonatruestory #nyc #bye #single #dating #girls #fyp #relatable♬ original sound – jas .｡.:*☆
One of them was Kate Galvan. She described going on a date with a guy on Saturday, January the 15th, who ghosted her. Another woman reached out to Galvan after seeing her video. She told Galvan that she went on a date that same morning with a man who sounded a lot like the one she described.
How these women found each other is still a mystery. Buzzfeed news reporter Katie Notopoulos suggests that it could be because TikTok reportedly uses the numbers saved on your phone to help you find people you know and that a majority of these women were likely in Caleb’s contacts. If true, that explanation makes you wonder if his friends and family had these videos on their For You Pages too.
pivoting to chaos vlogs♬ original sound – kateglavan
Reply to @kateglavan♬ original sound – kateglavan
I am a victim of nyc dating…yet again #nyc #dating #fyp #hinge♬ original sound – よかいえき
anyone else receive this from W.E.C. plz also he deleted his hinge #westelmcaleb #nyc♬ original sound – anti turtle
Other women then shared their own anecdotes with Caleb. Some of the women claimed that he told them he would delete his dating profile after they went on just one date. Screenshots between Caleb and some of these women also show he sent them all links to the same Spotify playlist and described himself as a “sad art boy”.
Several of the women he’s dated also say he sent them a dick pick without their permission. It’s worth noting that that’s the only illegal thing he’s done here according to these womens’ accounts.
in all fairness to him, i do like some of the songs #greenscreen #westelmcaleb #nyc♬ original sound – addi
The term “love-bombing” has been thrown around a lot by people sharing their stories about West Elm Caleb. It’s this idea that someone will overwhelm you with deceptively loving gestures and romance to manipulate you. It’s a tactic commonly used by abusers and narcissists to make their victims feel like they have to stay in a relationship. It’s also part of a cycle of long-term abuse.
Several of these women claim that what Caleb does is love-bombing but I don’t think that’s accurate. He’s a guy in his 20s in a big city who uses dating apps to hook up and freely goes from one date to the next. He doesn’t communicate that to the women he interacts with and he seems to be completely unaware of the way he comes across and his actions. That said calling this a sign of long-term abuse is a stretch.
Them writer Samatha Riedel agrees. In an article about how this whole saga “proves the straights are not even remotely okay”, they argue that “none of [what defines lovebombing] really seems to describe Caleb, who from all accounts wanted no-strings sex and lied about being emotionally interested to get his dick wet.
“Callous? Crude? Absolutely. Abusive? Maybe not so much. It’s kind of like accusing someone of gaslighting you because they once said you were misremembering something.”
There’s another conversation here that needs to be looked at. Does Caleb deserve to be a victim of a social media witch hunt? Caleb’s real identity is in the name that everyone refers him to unlike the real identity of TikTok’s Couch Guy. I’ve refrained from including them in this yarn but his face, personal details and private text conversations between him and women he’s dated are referenced heavily throughout these videos.
A majority of these videos have tens of thousands of likes and include photos and information he privately sent these women over text. People are selling screenshots of his Hinge account as an NFT and he’s allegedly deleted his LinkedIn, professional portfolio and Instagram. It’s hard to think this all started from a girl sharing her experience with an unknown guy who ghosted her.
not trying to be the one to expose but like if someone guesses that’s kinda on him #westelmcaleb #dcdating #hinge♬ original sound – Amy Rauch
These women’s experiences are valid and there’s nothing wrong with women warning each other about a guy that they say acts like a total jerk. But based on these accounts, Caleb is someone who isn’t great at dating, a fuckboy and an awful communicator. None of those descriptions justify having your career and personal life ruined.
Kate Glavan said in a video on Friday that she never intended for Caleb’s identity to be publicised the way it has been and that the whole thing has gotten out of hand.
“I purposefully never shared a photo of, I never said where this man that I was going on a date with, where he worked or his name or any of that private information because I thought that that would be gross to put that on the internet,” she said.
“Why do so many people across the country… want to see the downfall of this man? I never thought that ghosting was a criminal offence.”
more thoughts on #westelmcaleb in response to comments by @taylorlorenz♬ original sound – kateglavan
TikTok’s West Elm Caleb demonstrates the collective power social media platforms have. But it also raises questions about the ethics of online mob mentality.
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