Dating in 2020 is a minefield, y’all — between orbiting, breadcrumbing, Gatsbying, and good ol’ fashioned ghosting, there's a multitude of potential hazards you could run into while trying to meet “The One” (or at least the one for right now). The latest term to wrap your mind around is White Clawing, and it’s probably something you’ve already practiced at least once. What is White Clawing? This trend refers to dating someone exclusively for their dazzling good looks — even if you find them to be dull AF. It’s named after the popular spiked seltzer brand, which many might agree seems enticing on the surface, but actually tastes pretty bland and flavorless once you start sipping it.
If you've White Clawed before, you're not alone. In fact, a 2019 Plenty of Fish survey of 1,000 app users (age 18 to 50) revealed that over a quarter of singles have done this, and 42% of them know someone who’s done this.
According to Fran Greene, licensed clinical social worker and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting, White Clawing is incredibly common because being with someone who’s good looking makes you feel more attractive, especially if you’re even a tad insecure. It makes sense, too — because having a hot date to bring to your cousin's wedding or your office holiday party can be quite the ego boost.
"While I didn't know the name for it at the time, I've definitely White Clawed before,” says Hannah, 26. “The worst was the time I dated this very handsome, extremely tall guy with a cute Australian accent for five months. He was so boring, we had nothing in common, and he made straight-up rude comments under the guise of being 'funny.' (He was not funny.) When I introduced him to my friends, though, they didn't notice any of his bad traits... one kept whispering behind his back, 'OMG, he's so hot.'"
It’s also worth noting that there often tends to be an element of denial to White Clawing — at least in the initial stages of dating. Even though deep down you know you don’t actually like your date’s personality, you tell yourself you need to give them a real chance simply because you aren’t willing to surrender your enviable arm candy.
“Often, the person who is White Clawing actually tries to convince themselves they are into their date when they truly are not,” adds Greene.
“It’s tough to admit this, but I White Clawed one guy for a full six months,” Rachel, 30, tells Elite Daily. “He was a successful entrepreneur and former college football player — but his sense of humor and idea of fun couldn’t have been further from mine, and all in all we wanted very different things out of life. It took unexpectedly meeting someone I actually clicked with to help me face the reality of the situation — I finally stopped kidding myself, realized I was into him for all the wrong reasons, and promptly ended it.”
While someone can resort to White Clawing for any number of reasons depending on their unique circumstances, Greene notes that it’s a particularly common practice among daters who feel more secure when they’re with someone than they do when they’re single. If they’re eager to avoid being alone, they might be more likely more willing or able to overlook the fact that someone isn’t actually a good match for them simply because they’re a whole snack. Greene also notes that White Clawing is common after a breakup that triggered certain insecurities.
“Dating someone who looks good confirms to the person who’s been dumped that there is hope that someone attractive will be attracted to them,” she explains.
Clearly, White Clawing is super common, but is it ethical to keep dating someone that you don’t actually have the potential for a real connection with beyond physical attraction? According to Greene, it all comes down to being vocal about your intentions to avoid leading your date on. Letting them know from the get-go that you’re only interested in casual dating allows you to ensure you’re on the same page. If you’re not, and they’re seeking a serious relationship with future potential, you can prevent minimize hurt feelings by compassionately ending it and moving on.
“Anytime you deceive someone to serve your own needs, it’s unfair to the other person,” adds Greene.
Beyond thinking about the other person’s emotional well-being, Greene also recommends considering your own. Is White Clawing fulfilling all of your needs, or are you “settling” for a small fragment of what you’re truly looking for?
“If finding the love of your life is your goal, you will waste precious time by focusing on someone’s looks and not what makes a relationship work for a life together,” she explains. “As time goes on, the thrill of the good looks will disappear and the lack of connection will shine through — and disappointment will rear its ugly head. You can only deny your true feelings for so long.”
There isn't necessarily anything wrong with White Clawing — between two consenting individuals, that is. Making it clear that you're only interested in a physical relationship gives your date the opportunity to assess their own desires and feelings, so you can ensure that your connection is mutually fulfilling. However, if you know deep down that you actually want more than White Clawing can offer you, or that your date does, then remember this: You're not doing either of you any favors by pursuing a relationship that's likely going nowhere. It's time to ask yourself: Is a White Claw going to quench your thirst? Or, are you craving something a little more complex?
Fran Greene, licensed clinical social worker and dating coach
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