Whether it’s OkCupid, Tinder, Bumble or just the local bar, modern dating culture is complicated with plenty of opportunity for miscommunication.
This is mainly due to our heavy reliance on technology to establish and maintain contact. Research undertaken by the Pew Research Centre found that 27% of young adults report to using online dating sites, today’s figure has almost tripled since the reported 10% in 2013.
Have you found yourself engaging in a lot of second guessing and endless discussions with your friends about your dating life? Then it is time you became aware of the emerging trends in communication in today’s dating culture and how they may impact you.
‘Ghosting’ is the practice of ending a relationship or dalliance by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. ‘Ghosting’ is not a new concept. People have been using passive aggressive techniques to end communication long before the dawn of technology. Also known as the ‘Irish Goodbye’ or the ‘Fade away’, this act is especially cruel and emotionally hurtful in that it prevents the ghosted party from gaining closure. Without closure you can be left with questions of what went wrong or may experience feelings of stress as you ponder the demise of the relationship.
“A recent survey released by dating site Plenty of Fish found that that 78% of single 18 – 33 year old site users report that they have been ‘ghosted’ at least once”.
The emotional impact of being ghosted can be signifcant especially for those with already fragile self-esteem. However, it is important to understand why people choose to ghost rather than to have a direct conversation in which they end the contact in a respectful way. The risk of ghosting is higher when there are no social connections, for example a couple who met online rather than a couple introduced by mutual friends. The reason for this increased risk is that there are less social consequences to dropping out of someone’s life. Also due to fear of confrontation, many ghosters justify that fading away will reduce feelings of rejection.
Ghosting can feel like a betrayal or a social rejection. Naomi Eisenberger, PhD, at the University of California and Kipling Williams, PhD, at Purdue University found through their research that social rejection activates many of the same brain regions involved in physical pain. With ghosting, you are often left feeling powerless, unable to justify why this relationship came to an end. It also renders you unable to process constructive criticism that could assist with future dating opportunities.
Ghosting, however, says more about the ghoster than the ghostee. It merely shows that the ghoster could not deal with the discomfort of your emotions. If you are ghosted try to focus your energy on what makes you feel safe in a relationship, such as respect, trust and direct communication.
The act of ‘Zombieing’ is to have someone you care about disappear or ‘ghost’ from your life completely only to have them bring a relationship back from the dead with an unexpected text, call or interaction. Coming back from the dead can involve an old flame reaching out to you in numerous ways. The recurrent theme, however, is that this interaction is unexpected and you had labeled this relationships as ‘dead’.
The idea of reconnecting with an old flame may seem nice at first; however, try not to move too quickly with this zombie. Rekindling old romances can put you in a precarious situation without ample time spent reflecting on why the relationship ended in the first place.
“Romanticizing your past relationship can put you at risk of looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses and forgetting the cause of the demise of your union”
Rosy retrospection refers to the psychological phenomenon that people sometimes judge the past disproportionately more positively than they judge the present. Ask yourself if this relationship is worth bringing back from the dead. If the relationship was characterized by infidelity, dysfunction or betrayal, really take time to contemplate if you would want to relive the past again. It is important not to go into a relationship with the agenda of changing someone, but rather to gradually adjust to each other over time in a kind and gentle way.
Breadcrumbing, has been defined by Urban Dictionary as ‘the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (ie “breadcrumbs”) in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort’. This act equates to leading someone on and giving them false hope through sporadic contact. Breadcrumbing is also known as ‘keeping someone on the back burner’ or ‘benching’. It is a devaluing and damaging process which erodes the recipient’s self-worth and confidence.
Breadcrumbing can entail a text message here and an Instagram like there with no real commitment or direct communication. These breadcrumbs or sporadic flirtations lead you on a trail of ambiguity, not knowing where you stand and if your feelings are reciprocated. The issue here is identifying when you are being thrown breadcrumbs and becoming aware when you are the one doing the throwing? Many people view breadcrumbing as a way of keeping their options open. However, when it is done to them this nonchalance can turn into feelings of frustration.
If you are in search of a genuine relationship with real commitment try not to waste your time decoding the behavioral patterns of a breadcrumber. By identifying when you feel manipulated by a breadcrumber you can give yourself permission to move forward in a more intentional way, focusing your attention on someone who is ready to give you the attention you deserve.
‘NetFlix & Chill’
‘Netflix and Chill’ is a term used to describe a casual relationship which is focused only on physical intimacy. Once again, it is important not to go into a relationship with the agenda of changing someone, but rather to gradually adjust to each other over time in a kind and gentle way. If someone explicitly tells you they are not ready for a relationship, believe them and respect their honesty. If you have knowingly entered into a Netflix and Chill partnership understand that this partner may not be in search of a monogamous relationship.
In this situation it is important to take time to reflect on your personal comfort levels and what it is that you are looking for in your personal life. Can this person meet your needs on an emotional and practical level?
So now that we have discussed what can go wrong in the dating world, how do you know when you have met the one? Firstly, it is important to take time to reflect on your personal comfort levels. After spending a few hours with someone you may notice your mood has changed. Does this personal make you feel light, happy or more confident or do they evoke feelings of inadeuqacy, shame or codependence.
If you have difficulty understanding your thought processes, your body will often tell you if you feel comfortable around someone. For example, when you feel on guard your body has a tendency to tense up. Be observant of your body language and feelings of pains and aches especially in your shoulders or jawline, which can signify emotional discomfort.
“Individuals in satisfying romantic relationships often self-report experiencing positive changes to their self-concepts as a direct result of their romantic partners”
In a recent study, conducted by the Department of Psychology at the Ursinus College, it was found that when you experience that your partner makes you feel like a better person this is a core indicator that you are in a healthy and potentially long lasting relationship. The study further explains that being with the right person allows you to realize aspects of your ideal self and prompts you to see yourself much more positively.