Forget catfishing and ghosting, dating terms have become intricate and confusing. Just when you thought 2022 would be the year of finding true love, it goes and throws a massive missile.
That’s the bad news. The good news is if you already know what you’re in for, you can avoid the let down by familiarising yourself with the lingo and terminology of the online dating world.
Similar to ghosting, breadcrumbing is exactly what the term suggests. Just when you think you’ve clicked, your potential love interest strings you along with intermittent flirty messages, and then suddenly radio silence, only for them to reconnect with you a few days or weeks later.
“Breadcrumbing is sending mixed messages to someone with the intent of leading them on,” explained clinical psychologist and author Bethany Cook while chatting to thehealthy.com.
“This person sends a few texts or comments on a couple of social media posts – all in an effort to keep that individual hooked.”
Don’t get your heart set on something materialising because the narcissist in them has no intention of embarking on a relationship with you.
Let’s refer to this as catfishing lite. According to dictionary.com, “kittenfishing is the act of making oneself appear more desirable in online dating apps, especially through the use of old or edited photos and inflated profile descriptions”.
US dating app Hinge coined the term in 2017 as meant to be a “baby” version of catfishing. The difference between the two is that when kittenfishing, the person is not assuming a full-on false identity but subtly misrepresenting themselves “by making themselves look better by using old or edited photos or providing exaggerated descriptions of their qualities.”
Here’s an interesting observation. When conducting a survey among its members, Hinge found that 38% of men and 24% of women reported being kittensfished, but that 2% of men and 1% of women report having kittenfished someone else – which supports the theory that someone people may not even know that they’re doing it.
Imagine you’re part of a soccer team, but you always find yourself on the sidelines, never the one to make it into the field. You’ve been essentially benched, and this is exactly what benching is.
There’s no other way to say it, you’ve been relegated to the “maybe” list because your love interest can’t decide if they’re really that into you. So with the right combination of breadcrumbing and cushioning (see below), they continue leading you on.
There is a silver lining, though. Dating several people at once is something you should consider, said clinic psychologist Ann Rosen Spector.
While chatting to Women’s Health, she advised that “seeing several people at once is the best way to figure out what you're really looking for and who you truly want to spend more time with.”
Although not new to the dating scene, relationship experts predict it’s making a big comeback in 2022.
It may seem hypocritical and even dishonest, but this approach to casual dating has been going on for eons.
Urban Dictionary defines it as: “When someone in a relationship maintains several ‘cushions’ - people that they text, flirt with, or even date - to provide back-up options in case their relationship ends.”
“It’s no surprise that this has come about in the modern lives we are living. We are bombarded with different choices in every aspect of our lives, so why should our dating lives be any different?” explained sex expert Jenni Holdsworth.
“The problem with cushioning is that it’s a dishonest practice, and it's never a good idea to start a potential relationship with dishonesty,” added Holdsworth.
For some people, they use cushioning as an avoidance tactic. While writing for eHarmony, Verity Hogan believes “it’s a way to avoid getting hurt, avoid feeling vulnerable, and avoid fully investing in a relationship”.
Relationship expert and columnist Paige Nick has a different take, saying that cushioning has gained a bad rap and getting some dodgy PR with some calling cushioners out for playing games and messing around with people’s hearts.
“There’s more to cushioning than meets the eye. There’s a hugely self-preservatory and potential relationship-building angle to it too,” said the co-author of erotic adventure novel A Girl Walks Into A Bar.
“You could be dating someone new and maybe you’re crushing on them just a smidgen harder than they’re crushing on you. Or maybe you’re not sure where you stand yet, but you’re feeling overly enthusiastic about it.”