Of Ghosts and Draculas: Modern Dating Trends, Explained
What happened to the simple “it didn’t work out”?
First, there was love and heartbreak. Now — thanks to social media, dating apps, and texting — what started with ‘ghosting’ has turned into a plethora of modern dating trends. Most of these are not only perplexing but also symptomatic of our decreasing ability to communicate with each other (without the use of technology) in a healthy manner.
Here’s a handy list of things that might happen to someone should they, God forbid, decide to try to have a love life these days.
Stringing someone along without any commitment or clarity about where their interaction is headed, by sending in the occasional message, mentioning in passing they want to meet, but never making an actual plan. Think Hansel and Gretel following a trail of breadcrumbs, but it doesn’t lead anywhere.
Lining up multiple people as ‘backups’ in case one’s current romantic rendezvous doesn’t pan out, since these days, the next match is only a swipe away. This extends from outright cheating in a relationship to flirting with multiple people at the beginning of a relationship, should the worst happen.
The mother of all modern dating trends, ghosting is exactly what it sounds like: a romantic interest simply disappearing without warning or closure after a few dates that were clearly heading towards commitment, almost as if they … died.
A related term is ghostbusting when the ghostee forces the ghoster to reply and explain their behavior like a well-adjusted adult would do.
A considerably worse version of ghosting — curving is known as rejecting someone with a smile. Imagine a very drawn out rejection process, where someone breadcrumbs their partner or fling just enough to let them know they’re not interested, but never directly. It’s like breadcrumbing but to reject a person rather than string them along.
It’s different from ghosting in the sense that a text asking for a coffee date will not be completely ignored, or ‘ghosted. ‘Instead, a curver will reply days later with a non-commital excuse like “sorry, I’d love to see you but work has been crazy” or “I’m just so bad with staying connected over the phone.”
If a ghoster continues to follow a person on social media — liking Facebook posts, watching Instagram stories — but not initiating direct contact, they’re orbiting the ghostee.
Resurfacing back into a relationship or fling after ghosting someone, without so much as a casual mention of their disappearance in the first place — as if nothing happened — is known as submarining. It’s a more entitled form of zombieing (See below).
Returning from the realm of death and all things ghostly, zombieing is when someone randomly reappears after a long period of sudden silence … just when the other person has begun getting over them. Basically, it’s a nudge saying, “Hey, remember me?”
A less extreme form of catfishing (wherein one assumes a fake identity on online dating platforms), kittenfishing is when one only slightly misrepresents themselves in an overly favorable light. Posting heavily edited photos, or photos of oneself from a few years ago to appear younger, are classic examples.
When someone asks their romantic interest something important over text (to ease the nervousness) such as where the relationship is going or whether plans for the next date are still on, and the other person replies to everything except that one message, they’re deflexting. Did they ignore it? Did they not notice it? Did they forget? Who knows?
Posting — nay, flaunting, as Jay Gatsby would — good pictures of oneself and one’s life on social media, especially, Instagram, tailored as bait for a crush to see and initiate a conversation.
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When one half of a couple uses their social media, especially Instagram, to tell the world about their new relationship as a sign of commitment, thereby taking things to the next level, they are being an Insta-gator.
Stemming from Ariana Grande‘s breakup song “Thank U, Next,” this term refers to a way of thinking about the ending of a relationship. Someone is ‘grande-ing’ when they cherish the good bits of past relationships and are on friendly terms with their exes so as to be able to move into future relationships positively.
The best of the lot, breezing means properly communicating what one wants in a relationship, including whether one wants a relationship in the first place or not. It’s essentially the opposite of all the dating trends and games mentioned in this article.
Much like vampires, people who only show up on the radar come nightfall for strictly sexual purposes, a.k.a., “booty calls,” are said to be Dracula-ing.
Venmo-ing/PayTM-ing/Google Pay-ing someone for half the cost of the first date after finding out that a second date is not on the cards.
A classic move of the commitment-phobe: dating someone but making it a point to not introduce them to friends or family or to not mention them on social media, as if stashing them in a drawer.
When someone takes an unreasonable amount of time to reply to texts consistently, leaving the other person on ‘read’ repeatedly. It’s different from ghosting in that the R-Bomber won’t completely disappear; they simply won’t reply to texts they don’t deem interesting, in time or with any semblance of interest.
Named after Casper, the friendly ghost, it’s a nicer alternative to ghosting. Instead of outright disappearing, the Casper, in this case, is first honest about how they feel, letting the other person down gently before eventually fading out of their lives. Basically, Caspering is another word for healthy communication.
Inspired by Netflix’s Bird Box, in which Sandra Bullock tries to survive while wearing a blindfold the entire time, bird-boxing happens when someone is blind to how terrible the person they are dating actually is.
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Then there’s shaveducking (worrying one is only attracted to someone because of their beard), sidebarring (checking one’s phone and messaging other people during a date), hatfishing (wearing a hat in every picture on one’s online dating profile in an effort to hide their hair — or lack thereof), scrooging (breaking up with someone right before Christmas so as to not have to buy them presents) and marleying (reaching out to an ex or a past flame during the holiday season of Christmas and New Year out of loneliness) — the list only seems to be growing.
What happened to the good old meet-someone-fall in love-either-it-works-out-or-it-doesn’t and that’s that? When did dating become so exhausting?
Pallavi Prasad is The Swaddle's Features Editor. When she isn't fighting for gender justice and being righteous, you can find her dabbling in street and sports photography, reading philosophy, drowning in green tea, and procrastinating on doing the dishes.