Fashion and Style

On TikTok, Stories About Dating and Ghosting Command Large Audiences

Ms. Grippo began posting on TikTok at the end of 2021 after the abrupt ending of an almost-relationship, and the videos performed better than she expected. She made a deal with herself — post at least twice a day to draw a following — and it worked. Today she has more than 100,000 followers, a vast majority of whom are women, she said, and she now teams up with companies like Tinder. “I’m just a hurt person,” Ms. Grippo said. She said she filmed her videos from bed and shared the kind of relatable experiences “girls want to hear.”

#DatingTok began attracting more attention in late 2021 and early 2022, around the time the internet became acquainted with West Elm Caleb, a man whose Hinge profile has been etched into many single, 20-something women’s memories (and on the side of a building in New York, courtesy of a dating app, for a time).

In January 2021, Mimi Shou, a jewelry designer and content creator, posted a TikTok video about her travails involving a man named Caleb, who she said never reached out after, by her definition, a great first date. Women flocked to the comments section, sharing their own horror stories of “love-bombing” and ghosting at the thumbs of a man named Caleb who said he worked at West Elm.

Though Ms. Shou’s story was about a different Caleb, whose identity she never made public — and though she said her goal was not to retaliate against him — the tale set off a wave of viral videos, highlighting the idea that TikTok could be a forum for righting dating wrongs.

Ms. Shou, 28, said she had also been inspired by the subsequent West Elm Caleb, and in addition to her usual comedic bits, some of which involve poking fun at the finance bro archetype and her misguided attraction to it, she decided to dig a little deeper. “I realized people want to discuss the hurt they’ve had and make sure they’re not alone,” she said. “So I started talking more about dating advice and my own experiences.” She now has more than a dozen brand partnerships, she said, and considers content creation her full-time job.

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