A man is going viral on TikTok for all the wrong reasons, after he dated — and ghosted — several women in the New York City area.
The man, initially referred to as simply “West Elm Caleb,” has since been identified as Caleb Hunter. The initial nickname was born of his claims, on the dating app Hinge, that he is a furniture designer for the West Elm brand. He managed to go viral on TikTok not due to any funny content or a surprise viral sensation, but because of his serial dating habits.
It’s common practice for people on TikTok to use the app as a form of therapy, sharing their experiences and commiserating with others as they traverse life’s common hurdles. Thus, it was in no way odd when a trend began, as women shared their experiences dating in New York City. In the midst of typical complaints about dating apps and hook-up culture, however, an odd trend emerged. A number of women began to realize that their videos were all centered around the same man: West Elm Caleb.
The path to discovering West Elm Caleb’s serial dating habits began with a few innocent videos, all from women either gushing or complaining about their various dates with a mysterious New York man. Some referred to him by the moniker ‘West Elm Caleb,’ while others nixed a name and simply referenced a tall man from the city. One of the earliest, and most viral, comes from user @meemshou, a first-hand victim of West Elm Caleb.
In her video, @meemshou breaks down how she discovered Caleb’s serial dating habits. It began, as so many things do nowadays, on TikTok. She made a video joking about a “very tall Caleb” that she went on a date with, and it prompted a flood of feedback from concerned commenters. People immediately began questioning whether her Caleb was *that* Caleb, and led her down a rabbit hole to discover that she had, in fact, made contact with the one and only West Elm Caleb.
Apparently, many of Caleb’s interactions with Hinge start the same way. He has a tendency to “love bomb,” right at the outset, flooding his would-be dates with heartfelt messages only to ghost them later. On the rare occasion that a match actually leads to an in-person date, it seems Caleb sells himself well. At least one girl, as detailed in @meemshou’s video, had a truly incredible experience with him.
@meemshou notes, in her video, that she was a bit hesitant to reach out to the love-struck girl, who she labeled as “head over heels” based on her video about Caleb. She decided, in the long run, that she would leave it up to the “TikTok gods.” If the other girl saw her video, she could take the warning however she wanted.
The TikTok gods must have been listening. Within no time, a wave of videos flooded the app from women sharing their own experiences with West Elm Caleb. One woman recounted an experience in which she got the typical “love bombing” experience only to be ghosted soon afterward. West Elm Caleb was kind enough to follow this typical dating app interaction with a full-body dick pic, however, so — congrats?
In some cases, West Elm Caleb is fully willing to commit — for a few weeks at least. According to women he’s actually gone on dates with, Caleb is pretty great. The love bombing is a consistent trend, as are the “unique” playlists he likes to send out to dates.
But the interactions all seem to end the same way: he ghosts. Many of the women don’t know what, exactly, went wrong, but they all end up ghosted regardless.
But not user @kateglavan, who actually managed to date Caleb for a few days recently. She was thoroughly enjoying her time with him until people on TikTok started to send her videos about the man, the myth, the legend: West Elm Caleb himself. She quickly realized that her beau and West Elm Caleb were one and the same, particularly after Caleb texted her to complain about the situation unfolding on TikTok.
Even as he was whining, however, more women were reaching out. Kate began getting Instagram messages from women informing her that they’d been in her shoes before. He sends out the same loving messages, shares the same playlists, and takes girls on the same dates, according to one former victim. She even told Kate that she “woke up in his bed the day you went on a date with him.” He apparently has a tendency to claim that he’s deleted Hinge from his phone, only to continue his serial dating on the DL.
The West Elm Caleb saga has since gone mega-viral. The hashtag alone has more than 13.2 million views, and new videos are still being uploaded. More and more women — and plenty of men — are joining in on the drama, whether to share stories of their own West Elm Calebs — a ghoster by any other name would smell as sour — or to simply gush over the delectable TikTok drama.
The story is also inspiring some women to simply be more aware of the dating scene. As one TikToker aptly put it, “he is not only New York City. He is everywhere. West Elm Caleb is a universal concept.”