“West Elm Caleb” is Everything Wrong With Modern Dating

I’ll tell you what, the internet is the Wild, Wild West sometimes.

Or perhaps more accurately, the Internet is a mob of angry 23-year old single New York ladies with torches and pitch forks.

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, congratulations – mindless Internet drama does not infiltrate your mental headspace. I envy your position.

Allow me to give you a thirty-second catch up about this nonsense, so we can chat about something that actually matters…

Over the last week, there has been a viral internet story about this 25 year old, New York City man name Caleb [I’m omitting his last name], who is a designer at West Elm, who has been virally “called out” on TikTok for his bad dating practices. One popular TikToker posted a video of her “bad dating experience” with a “tall Caleb” she matched with, which led to a flooded comments section, from other New York girls, who had ALSO had bad dating experiences with a tall Caleb they met on a dating app…who was a designer at West Elm.

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

As girls put the pieces together that they had all been duped by the same guy, it led to a ton of other New York City single ladies, realizing that they had also been a “victim” of the SAME bad serial dater, now known to the Internet as “West Elm Caleb.” And they all made videos, recounting their bad experiences with the now famous “Don Juan” of NYC.

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

And just what were these bad experiences?

— All the girls complained of being “ghosted” by Caleb — meaning that they would go on a date with him, and then never hear from him again. Sadly, a classic move in the online dating scene.

— The girls all noted that he would “love bomb” them — meaning that he would send her intensely affirming messages, expressing his deep interest or attraction – at high frequency, to ensure that she likes him/will go on a date with him — only to “ghost” her soon after.

— Several girls mentioned that he sent her a Spotify playlist that he claimed he created “just for her…” but in actuality, the same listed was sent to several others.

— And one girl mentioned that he sent her unsolicited photos of his … ahem … “nether region.”

— Oh yeah, and all of this serial dating was happening at the exact same time. Multiple dates on the same day-kind of “same time.”

So, long story short: the guy was acting like the majority of young men in the online dating scene in New York, who has a “rotating roster” of women he’s casually dating/hooking up with, who he doesn’t respect enough to properly end things with, (or date exclusively).

Only this guy, got called out on it. In a big way.

Now look, I think the way this guy has been doxxed is terrible. The Capital-I “Internet” has come out with his full name, his photo, dating app profile and LinkedIn, publishing it on TikTok, in media stories, gossip rags, etc. West Elm has been flooded with demands that he be fired.

Companies have even used this viral story as a joke to sell products! Another dating app has taken out a BILLBOARD in Manhattan about “West Elm Caleb.”

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

And the West Elm competitor, Ruggable, has even made videos about how their rugs “weren’t designed by West Elm Caleb.”

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

Which frankly, shame on them. That’s absolutely terrible to, essentially, pour gasoline on a fire that’s ruining this normal, everyday guy’s life, who’s greatest crime is being a rude skirt chaser, who, in the case of the photo — was inappropriate at worst.

But I don’t want to sit here and bash this poor guy. Was he a jerk? Yeah. But real talk here: so is everyone else on dating apps. Guys, girls — no one is immune: internet dating brings out the worst in every single person.

Why? Because it’s designed to do so.

Swiping through an endless rotation of photoshopped photos, based on a snap judgement of their looks…that’s never a great start. Add to that, the fact that most men (and a lot more women than would admit it) are only on there to find someone to hookup with casually…it’s a recipe for atrocious dating behavior, as demonstrated by our Internet Casanova.

Which is why modern dating SUCKS.

Thankfully, I have been out of the New York dating pool for two years now. I’ve found myself an absolute gem of a man. A prince among men, I like to say. And might I add, we did NOT, meet on a dating app (though–no shade to anyone who did. Despite the overarching message of this article, there are a few good ones out there on the dating apps, but it’ll take significant effort to find them!)

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

But modern dating, as I have witnessed both personally when I was single and “on the apps” as they say, as well as witnessing my single friends navigate through the trenches of modern, internet dating — all I can say is, ‘ooof.’

The thing about modern, app-based dating that makes it so terrible, is that there’s no accountability. If your aunt sets you up with someone in your hometown, there’s no way you could “ghost them,” because it’ll get back to your aunt, who will tell your mother, who will then never let you hear the end of it. There’s accountability.

With app-based dating, there’s none of that. Particularly in New York. You’re anonymous. You don’t even have to give your last name. If you want to just *poof* disappear, no one will ever know. Emotions be damned.

Which, I personally believe, is why the backlast against West Elm Caleb has gotten the global attention — especially from women — it has: because women are tired of this crappy dating system, and this tall, handsome, white guy was the scapegoat for them to take out all of their frustrations and heartaches from the many times they have been ghosted.

Because everyone has been ghosted.

I mean, the dating scene in New York is a nightmare. The stories I could share. Shoot.

I mean, I once went out with a doctor who bragged about doing the drug “Molly” at music festivals during the summer. Like — dude, you could get your medical license taken away for that — why are you bragging??

But anyway. It begs the question: What’s missing?

Sure, the accountability. Sure, the human decency of letting someone know you’re no longer interested.

But it’s so much deeper than that.

When you’re dating just to hookup or sleep around, it completely severs any intentionality in the relationship, which is a crucial aspect, if you are hoping for any semblance of respect. That’s using the other person, not loving them, and certainly not respecting them.

That old-fashioned, Leave it to Beaver “dad-trope” of sternly asking, “What are your intentions with my daughter” — that was a real thing for a reason.

Because real talk: love is sacred.

Love is a gift that shouldn’t just be given away willy-nilly. And sure, I’m talking about the physical aspect of love, but also the emotional.

Modern dating culture has completely adulterated the concept of love. People are not dating to find love anymore, but rather to find convenience, a boost of confidence, a warm body, a means to an end, financial stability, social position, etc.

But mainly, for no-strings attached sex.

And it breaks my heart.

Because, every time we give that away to a different person, we give away a part of our heart we can never get back. A part of our heart we can never give to the person who we do end up actually loving and marrying.

And whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of that very difficult truth, it is something that will break your heart in a new way, when it does come time to get married and make that love official. People don’t think about as they’re swiping feverishly at 10:30 on a Thursday night, desperate to find a date for the weekend.

But the main thing that is wrong with modern dating, is the selfishness which apps allow.

I’ve gotta say. The most beautiful thing about my relationship with my special gentleman, is our connection with Jesus.

We are both Catholic. We go to mass together every weekend, and to be honest, it is what I look forward to all week. There is something that is so powerful about a shared faith, that I believe is critical for a successful relationship.


Because it makes the relationship about more than just you.

There’s so much “me-first-ness” in modern dating: finding someone I like, that is going to hold my attention. I’ll have all these different people on the hook, so that I can decide who is the best: are they meeting my needsmy timingmy expectations.

Because with a literal endless supply of eligible dating profiles in your pocket, — while you’re sitting on that date — acting in your own best interest is not only easy, but seemingly the right thing to do. Why be happy with what you’ve got in front of you, when the grass could be greener somewhere else?

The best advice my mother ever gave me about love — and for context, she was talking about marriage — but she said, “Caralyn, it’s not about what you get out of it, but rather, what you put into it.

And though I’m not married, or engaged, I do date with purpose, and so that is something I keep in the back of my mind at all times.

And honestly, it must be working, because there has not been a single day over these past two years with my special gentleman, that I have been anything less than happy.

In fact, I have never been happier in my life. I never thought it was possible.

I’ll end with this. And I know this post is all over the map. But I’m trying to land the plane here.

I found love when I stopped trying to be in the driver’s seat: swiping on the apps, going to all the “Catholic singles nights,” and just doing all the things to find it, and instead just surrendered it to Jesus, and let Him bring to me the love He had in mind for me.

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

I know that’s so super cheesy, but I think we’ve forgotten that God is in control of it all.

We’re trying to take control with dating apps where women message first, or where all the guys are from Ivy Leagues, or where there are only farmers on the app. Or we’re setting our “dating match preferences” to a 5’10-6’3 [insert race here] guy with dark hair, who is 27-40, who has never been married and likes dogs, wants kids, has a job in [insert desired field] and is part of [X] political party.

I mean – these apps make you think you can “design” your perfect match, and then like some romantic vending machine, it’ll just pop it out and *poof!* happy ever after.

West Elm Caleb has taken the internet by storm with his bad #dating practices. But this scapegoat for serial daters everywhere actually illuminates exactly what’s wrong with modern dating and the hookup culture it creates. #westelmcaleb #nyc #love #catholic #god #faith #romance #datenight #christianity

Well, that’s a pretty idealistic view of, what could more accurately be described as a dumster fire, as demonstrated by our dear friend, West Elm Caleb.

One thing’s for sure: love is worth fighting for.

Love is worth scouring through the roladex of jerks you find on dating apps, or if you know what’s up: waiting on God’s timing — to find the person who is worthy of your heart.

Because at the end of the day, it’s what we were created for.

How did you and your significant other meet? How has the dating scene changed since you were single? What’s the best love advice you’ve ever received?

To hear my story, click here.

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37 responses to ““West Elm Caleb” is Everything Wrong With Modern Dating”

  1. I met the man of my dreams at a mutual friend’s house. I don’t know much about the dating scene. I am 43 and my lifestyle is completely different from when I was on the scene! I was always too busy to worry about dating and luckily my main squeeze landed in my lap so to speak☺️

    • Oh my gosh I love that story! He arrived in your life at the right time!! Thanks for sharing that! Hugs and love xox

  2. An amazing post, Caralyn! The guy behaved badly but who among us has not? The way any media went after him and exposed him so viciously is disgusting. A gross misuse of technology. On a more upbeat note, I love the photo of you guys together, frame it! 🌞

    • Thank you John!! You’re right – everyone has done things we would hate having blasted all over the internet! I agree- it’s not right and a misuse of technology for sure. Aw thanks!! Hugs and love xox

  3. I know two married couples who met on OKC, but otherwise online dating has been a complete disaster for myself and everyone I know. You are so right that the process is designed for us to view each other like commodities, like the way we compare shop on Amazon, and that does not lead to respect and kindness. It leads to selfish, cruel behavior because the attitude is… eh there are so many more to choose from. Horrible!

  4. Wow, I had no idea about this guy! Part of me is kinda happy he was exposed since I’ve seen many friends suffer from guys like that. But at the same time, it does show how we take things on the Internet way too far. I found my husband online, but we also had connections through my family. Things have definitely changed since a few short years ago! I agree that hookup culture has completely ruined dating, especially for serious Christians. I heard a quote that we train more for divorce than marriage with all of these love and leave relationships with no intentionality.

  5. I knew nothing about this. Wow.
    My husband and I met at a car club event out of state for both of us. We celebrated 25 years last year. After my mom died, my dad met his second wife online and they are about to celebrate 10 years, so it can work but I would never try it.

  6. I met my husband on OkCupid 9 years ago and we’ve been married for 5 years! (Going on 6 years in May). I got very lucky and I know that finding someone within 2 weeks of making a profile on a dating site is not the norm….

    I agree that finding a prince is rare these days. Consider yourself lucky – your special gentleman is a keeper! 🙂

    • I think there have always been guys like West Elm Caleb. But anonymity (real or perceived) is nearly guaranteed to bring out the worst in almost everyone.

      I can’t decide how I feel about the reaction to Caleb. On one hand, he used the tech to cut a far wider and deeper path of destruction than would have been possible otherwise, so when that same tech bites him in the nether, it’s hard to work up sympathy. OTOH, we are called to be more kind than he was.

  7. Super cheesey is good. Really good. I watched my wife try on a coat for about 45 minutes one time. It was the only one there, and she really liked it. Things were a little tough for us at the time, and she was reluctant about buying it. She finally got it, and I was glad.

    I tell other men that story and they ask “why wait so long?”

    The answer is simple: Happy wife, happy life. It took me a long time to figure that out.

    “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her….. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” –Ephesians 5: 25, 28

  8. Seriously! Make genuine dating great again! I never been a fan of dating apps or meeting a guy over social media. Call me a hopeless romantic or whatever but I desire a God sent love that was created for me. The dating scene can be trash if we are welcoming the trash. Sometimes we also need to do some self reflection and work on ourselves before we can throw ourselves for something we may not be ready for at the moment. Anyways, I’m good with waiting lol.

  9. To love is to become a new Adam and Eve in Eden! Adam and Eve were created by God to take care of His creation, and to have a relationship with Him! True love is taking care of each other and this planet we live on NOT exploiting it and each other.

  10. Wonderful analysis, Caralyn,
    In my own life I met my girlfriend when we were in middle school via the Youth Group. We were living over seas at the time and when her family moved we kept contact via weekly Skype chats. During that time we developed a friendship and it was only last year that we actually decided to become an official couple.

    However, like you said it only happened because I had surrendered this area of my life to God years earlier. And in that process of seeking God during the interim years where I was had stopped looking for a girlfriend I let God work on my heart to become a better person. I am glad that I was patient and let God deal with the wounds of my past. I was so not ready to date in a spiritual or emotional sense back then.


  11. Great Post! Know the truth and it will make you free! When you put God first everything else is added unto you—that includes your male counterpart! Young women have to learn not to be desperate, but discerning. Happy belated New Year to you and yours! Blessings and Peace!

  12. I found my husband when I stopped looking 🙂 (Ie, God was in control) I wasn’t necessarily at a great place in my spiritual life, but He lead me to the right man when I stopped trying to be the one doing the looking. I was 19 and he was 22. He was a friend of my cousin’s family and had been since birth, we had just never crossed paths with intentionality. He and his family ended up moving a state away, my cousin got a job working at his family’s business, and they came down to visit my cousin’s family. And that was the beginning of my happily ever after 🙂

  13. As usual, Caralyn, on the spot level-headed. (Might want to proofread more carefully though, for those of us in the Grammar Police 😉; e.g. “listed”= list; “backlast”=backlash’ ).
    Anita and I met at a University cafeteria; I was working on a new BS in Medical Tech and she was doing her PhD in Business. With a girlfriend in a nearby city and her boyfriend at a different state U, we became good friends going on “brain breaks” when studying was driving us nuts. Eventually closed off those other relationships and decided after two years of friendship and growing spiritually that God had a plan in mind for us. And the rest is history…😍 After 31 years, I figure we’re going to stick it out for the long haul now. 🤠
    There ARE a couple of people we know who met online that have worked out fine, but then, we probably don’t get told the horror stories.
    The anonymity IS the issue! Don’t date someone you just meet in a bar or at a party without doing some homework; get to know each other in safe venues of activities where you discover common interests and viewpoints.
    Bottom line: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.” And if God doesn’t add the man or woman to your life, you’re better off like the Apostle Paul and Jesus.
    The best advice I ever received was to stop looking for “the right one for me,” and begin living as “the right one for someone else.”
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

  14. Probably sent a picture of his nether region because that’s where his brain is located and he wanted to impress the NY babes with his intellectual abilities. I can’t think of any other possible reason. 🙂

  15. Call it a psychic flash, but I read your title as “West Elm Celeb”. As the publicity line used to go, “I don’t care what they say about me, as long as they spell my name correctly.”

  16. Oh, married 38 years+ and my heart aches for singles, especially the younger ones, in this crazy world. You hit the nail on the head! I’m soooo very glad the Lord brought you and your ‘special gentleman’ together!

    My husband and I met by ‘happenstance’ (God did it) in a ride home with mutual friends from a music concert. And the rest is history! 🥰❤️

    I can’t really think of love advice I have received…Hmmm. 🤨

  17. I don’t believe dating was ever Biblical. It is a modern perversion of love. As Christian missionaries, the Lord instructed me to marry my wife and He also told my wife, in His way. A year after we married, we actually fell in love – and we still are, almost 35 years later. No dating.

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