Dating in New York City is hard enough, but it becomes even more difficult if you cross paths with someone who acts like "West Elm Caleb."
That hashtag quickly became popular on TikTok for all the wrong reasons and became something of a Rorschach test. For some, it showed how hard it is for women to date using online apps. For others, it was a case study in how men need to be held accountable for their toxic behavior. And for another group, it brought up privacy concerns and the encroaching way social media makes everyday people overnight celebrities, as with "couch guy," a man who went viral in October after his girlfriend posted a video surprising him at school.
But let’s back up: Who is this guy Caleb and why did a hashtag with his name go viral? And what does he have to do with West Elm? Let’s get into it.
Who is "West Elm Caleb"?
"West Elm Caleb" is a viral nickname that was given to a serial dater on Hinge, a popular dating app. Women on TikTok gave him the moniker because his profile states that he works for the furniture company West Elm.
The hashtag #WestElmCaleb started trending on TikTok ever since a few women realized they dated the same guy who treated them poorly.
TikToker Kate Glavan (@kateglavan), who appeared to be smitten with the alleged furniture designer, said he's about 6'4'' tall, and Kate Pear (@_katepear), who also talked about dating him, said he lives in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan.
"You have been warned," she joked in one of her TikTok videos.
Why is "West Elm Caleb" trending on TikTok?
Some TikTokers allege that Caleb has been sending them unwanted nude photos, sharing Spotify playlists that he's made for other girls and ghosting them after a few weeks of "love bombing," aka when someone you gives you a lot affection in a short period of time.
Kelly, who goes by @kellsbellsbaby on TikTok, said she met Caleb on Hinge and thought he was really interested in her because he kept "blowing up" her phone. But after six weeks of dating, he "randomly stopped texting" out of the blue. It wasn't until she messaged him that she realized he lied about deleting his Hinge profile. His response: That he wasn't looking for a serious relationship.
According to text messages that Kelly showed in her video, he said, "I just feel like the distance and maybe physical disconnect may be because I'm just not ready for something."
When Glavan posted a video on the social media platform about dating someone who sounded eerily similar to Caleb, Kelly decided to reach out with the help of fellow TikToker Mimi Shou (@meemshou). By that time, Kelly and Shou were already in contact because Kelly saw a TikTok video that Shou created about dating a different guy known as Caleb in NYC. Although Kelly thought it was her Caleb, Shou later made it clear that it wasn't.
But when Kelly reached out to Glavan, that's when she discovered a very interesting timeline.
"Now, here's where it gets sick and twisted," Glavan said on TikTok after sharing her DM exchange with Kelly. "Kelly saw in my video that my first date with Caleb was on Saturday. She woke up in Caleb's bed on Saturday. She was with Caleb Saturday morning. Caleb and I went on a date at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The audacity of a straight white man with a f**king mustache! The audacity!
“This is where things just hit the fan for me,” she added.
After speaking with Kelly, Glavan said she reached out to Caleb to get his side of the story and that's when he confirmed that he did see Kelly shortly before their date and ghosted a couple of other women before her.
Who else has dated "West Elm Caleb"?
After the story went viral, TikTok user @pro_straws143 decided to make her first video on the platform about her "West Elm Caleb" experience. While showing some text messages she had exchanged with Caleb, the social media user noted that Caleb tried to ghost her after she had already stopped talking to him online.
"I've never posted a TikTok, but I decided to make this to jump into the movement because this seems like it is bigger than myself," she said.
Pearce said that she had a story to tell as well.
"The way that I rushed to make this video," she said at the beginning of the clip. "I also have a story about 'West Elm Caleb."
Pearce explained that after meeting Caleb on Hinge, he "love bombed her to a T," so she decided to grab coffee with him. But as she was waiting for Caleb at the restaurant, he decided to send her a full nude photo of himself, which completely took her off guard.
"I was like, 'One, that's very risky. Two, what the f**k,'" she said.
After Pearce made it clear that she wasn't into the nude photo, Caleb stopped messaging her until he once again struck up a conversation with her a month later and sent her another nude photo of himself out of the blue.
When Pearce confronted him about the picture, Caleb apologized and said he "regretted" sending it because he didn't want to seem like "that kind of guy." But then shortly after, he ghosted her again.
Pearce said the whole thing made her regret giving him a second chance.
What do you think? Should these women have called him out on social media?