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Breadcrumbing is not love

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Breadcrumbing, the latest trend sweeping across our dating lives.

But you know us modern day lovers, we have to label every action to justify why we weren’t good enough for someone, so here lays the reasoning behind the latest trend …. breadcrumbing.

The likelihood is, you’ve either been responsible of doing it or you’re constantly a victim of it if you dabble in online dating. Or, you have a habit of retreating back to an ex because they promised they’d be different this time.

Breadcrumbing is the newest form of ghosting but slightly more savage, so if you thought being ghosted sucked, you’re going to want to prepare yourself for this one.

The act of breadcrumbing is when someone is sending you just the right amount of flirty messages or empty promises without any real life action or commitment just to make sure you can keep them as a sideline option.

So let’s look at this from an online dating perspective. Think about the person who lands in your online dating inbox with a few smooth one liners and you’re thinking wow great, this one has looks and a personality, we could be onto a winner.

And it may be a bit premature of you, but in your head you’re already deleting all your dating apps and imagining what your insta posts will look like with them beside you, then they drop you the line you’ve been waiting for ‘We should definitely meet for a drink next week when you’re free‘ but what you don’t know is that this is the first of many breadcrumbs heading your way.

The next logical step is of course to trade numbers, and after that comes the exchange of flirty text messages back and forward for a few weeks, which of course is a nice welcome distraction for anyone. A new name and a new number feeding your little ego with lots of compliments.

Now cue the missed dates and the excuses. They’re ‘really’ sorry that they’ve had to cancel again but this project at work has kept them super late and they’re really annoyed they’re going to have to reschedule with you … again *eye roll*

But you’re a self respecting human being, two chances and that’s it, you don’t owe anything to someone you’ve never met, so you take the moral high ground, tell them it’s cool and not to worry about it because we all know these things can happen sometimes, but no messages that will encourage them to keep talking to you.

But a few weeks later here comes the next breadcrumb ‘hey stranger, how have you been doing, I know I still owe you a date, what are you up to on Friday after work?’ ugh, well I guess you can give them another chance right, you guys haven’t spoken in a few weeks but everyone gets busy with life right?

And so plans for the next date attempt commence.

The date comes around, you’ve been looking forward to it. Friday afternoon hits and you haven’t heard from them. But you’re pretty chilled, you wait until mid afternoon to check in, but guess what, you don’t get a reply …. until Sunday.

SUNDAY?! Your date was supposed to be on Friday …. ‘I’m so sorry about Friday, I’ve had a lot going on and it slipped my mind, but I’m gutted I missed out on finally seeing that gorgeous face in person’

And that right there is yet another breadcrumb they’ve tried to feed youYou know who likes breadcrumbs? Birds, and maybe ducks, but not people.

This breadcruming exchange will go on for as long as you keep replying, which will be for quite a while because who doesn’t love unprovoked attention and compliments from a total stranger, or from the person who once upon a time broke your heart? Well, us narcissistic millennials sure as hell love it!

Or if were looking at this from the ‘what we could expect to get from an ex‘ point of view, we could guess it would go something like this – After months of them not responding to the last message you sent in your previous exchange, all of a sudden you’ll look at your phone to see that they’ve sent you something like this ‘I was thinking about you at work today and how good your body feels, I need to see you this week it’s driving me crazy how much I want you. I’m missing us together‘ You get a little excited because subconsciously, this is the text you’ve been waiting for, the one you’ve wanted for months (since the last one they sent you) and this time, well this time you’re going to make sure you’re as available as possible for that dick head ex of yours who treats you like disposable underwear, you know the kind you get given in hospital? Yeah … that’s how bad this is, you’ve downgraded yourself to disposable underwear status.

And of course you exchange a few sexts back and forward, because you love hearing about all the things they say they’re going to do to you. But ultimately when it comes to actually seeing them, guess what? IT DOESNT HAPPEN! Because they’ve just fed you some breadcrumbs and f****d off.

I’m just hoping we can get over this sudden intolerance to gluten everyone seems to have because it seems we’re happy to let people feed us a lot of bread.

At least with ghosting you know you have to go cold turkey, like you’ve had lots of someone until they no longer want to give any of themselves to you and then it’s done, they leave your life and that’s that.

But breadcruming is the equivalent of someone saying ‘I don’t actually want you, I’m too busy with someone else right now, but I’ll keep you warm on the sidelines incase I decide I want to trade in for you at a later date, could be weeks, could be months, who knows, but if you could just wait there that would be great’

And I’m sure reading it out like that makes it sound bad, but I’m glad it sounds bad.

I hope it’s made you reconsider your self worth, or if you’re the person who’s responsible for breadcruming, I hope it’s made you realise how shitty it is!

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Tinder is Dead

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Back when I was at university Tinder had just started to become a recognised ‘thing’, so we’re talking about 6 years or so ago (yes I know it’s been around longer than that) and back then, people who I went to uni with would use it as a hook up platform.

It wasn’t something you used to build a meaningful connection with someone, it was more of a ‘you out tonight’ kind of chat, but with someone who’s social circle you hadn’t quite penetrated (excuse the pun) in real life. So here you are, about to get ready to go on a piss up and you’ve already lined up your one night stand potential, someone who isn’t linked too closely to your group of friends for it to be awkward, but also it’s not a stranger danger type situation.

So now lets skip ahead to the grand old year of 2019 and still, my mindset about this dating app has not changed. If you want to try a dating app for genuine dating and getting to know someone, in my opinion, you do not use Tinder.

Tinder is a place where narcissistic tendencies go to thrive. It’s like a party hub for the countries most illegible singletons.

Ok, so lets pretend for a second that I’m being unfair. I’d be willing to give Tinder the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t know of one successful relationship that has come from Tinder and the word successful is really key here! I know of relationships that have formed, however they are not in any way shape or form the #relationshipgoals we see sprawled across Instagram and Facebook.

I don’t particularly want to be with someone who cuts me off from the life I’ve spent 25 years building for myself, I don’t want them to come in and try and change who I am and what I stand for and honestly, the only kind of Tinder relationship I’ve seen is exactly what I’ve outlined above.

I can’t be bothered to put on a fake smile for someone and sit across a table discussing my life and my career just to find out they’re actually there just to get into my knickers. If I wanted a quick shag with someone I think I’d put less effort in than that and pull someone on a night out, that way I don’t have to go through the painful explanation of how my ‘date’ went the next day when everyone asks.

I can’t say that Shelia in the office would be too impressed with hearing about the worst sex I’ve had in my life with a total stranger, who’s pictures showed them from a much more flattering angle than how they looked in real life. So not only was the sex awful, but you also had to try and only look at the left side of their face (their photogenic side).

Yeah I think I’d rather not ….

Whereas I think people just assume one night stands happen on a night out, no one asks for all the juicy gossip of how you got shit faced and threw up in your own shoe, so surely, you might as well add in a night of very forgettable sex to that and no one will ever be any the wiser!

Don’t get me wrong, online dating can be a really good place to meet your forever person (so I’ve heard) but Tinder …. well in my opinion Tinder is dead.

I think we need to start actually saying hello to each other in real life, yeah I know it’s scary, but apparently that’s how people met before technology came along and destroyed romantic ‘how we met’ stories.

Personally, I’d rather end up marrying someone I had a story with, maybe someones who’s been my best friend, or someone who I would never have met in normal circumstances but fate bought us together by chance and now here we are.

Most of us will tend to go back to a platform like Tinder because we like the feeling of knowing we could have anyone we wanted, it’s a feel good factor and big confidence boost seeing all the people who’ve liked you that you then choose to disregard 80% of just because you can. But honestly, Tinder is not a good place to find a rebound!

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Romance Vs Social Media

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Has social media led to the downfall of romantic gestures? Instead of sending flowers we send DM’s and instead of writing someone a heartfelt note, we comment fire emojis under the selfie we like the look of … doesn’t scream romance to me!

Where can we expect our meet cute to happen if we’re all so scared of approaching people in real life?

Meet Cute: a scene in which the two people who will form a future romantic couple meet for the first time.

‘Playing’ Tinder is our latest boredom buster. One of the many dating apps we forget about until we realise we haven’t had any easily accessible attention for a while. We post half naked pictures onto our Instagram feeds because we revel in the fleeting appreciation we get from random strangers. Most of us leave our profiles on public because we enjoy being seen by others. But is social media really allowing us to be ‘seen’?

Ask your parents how they met, it’s highly unlikely they will say through online dating. Go back 20 or 30 years and people were meeting in pubs, or being hooked up via their group of friends. They weren’t swiping right, left or every direction in between while sat on the toilet hoping to find the love of their life and ultimately the person they wanted to create a family with. They were out there meeting people, speaking face to face, doing the most normal thing imaginable that we consider kind of weird now … they were interacting!

I want someone to write me letters telling me how much I mean to them, I want them to be stood in front of me telling me how beautiful I am. I don’t want them to comment emojis under my social media posts to show that they have an appreciation for me. I want them to show me off …. but not on social media. Take me to meet your friends and family face to face, so I can see the expression on your face as you introduce us. I don’t really care about the opinions of millions of people I don’t know, I don’t need them to all ‘approve’ of us.

Take me for lazy Sunday strolls, instead of laying next to me having a lazy Sunday ‘scroll’ through all of your social media platforms. Is romance too much to expect nowadays? Is it weird holding on to the hope of meeting Prince Charming at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve?

Imagine having a meet cute story like that … one where you saw each other from across the bar and it was love at first sight, that’s the kind of story people are jealous of. I’ve never seen a fairytale using the opening line of ‘once upon a swipe’ …  and if I did, I probably wouldn’t read on! Lets be honest, we all know how a Tinder date ends and unless having a drunk quickie with your clothes on is romantic to you, I don’t think you’d read on expecting a happily ever after either … I mean, I guess it’s kind of a happy ending in it’s own way, just not the type I’m after for here!

So for all of us hopeless romantics still hoping to find their forever romance the old fashioned way, I say keep trying. The offline world is far prettier than the online one anyway.

 

 

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Voice Note First … Date Second

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I’m not a fan of online dating. It reminds me of being down the sweet aisle at the super market. You’re presented with SO MUCH choice, all the options luring you in with their colourful wrapping and fancy quirks but ultimately, when you take your choice home you realise it’s bad for you and tastes like shit. That’s what I think of when someone asks for my opinion of online dating. Too much choice and always ends up being crap anyway.

When you’re bored you’ll scroll through the apps on your phone aimlessly, where people post the highlights of their life to make them seem more interesting and subsequently more ‘dateable’, but a few weeks in you’ll realise that they weren’t what you wanted after all. They’re not quite the version of themselves they had advertised.

I treat online dating as more of a hobby, something that keeps me actively within the dating scene rather than using it as a tool that will actually find me love. All the people you end up meeting are ultimately nothing that you expect and most definitely not the person you imagine you’ll spend forever with. All of my single friends agree that online dating is just a way of making sure you don’t forget how to flirt, you need to make sure you’re well versed for when you actually bump into ‘the one’.

Although not everyone may be as you expect when you meet them off of an online platform, there is one thing you can do which I believe will save you a lot of disappointment!

Get them to send a voice note before you meet them … this might sound like a really minor thing, but someones voice can tell you a lot about them! It can definitely reveal far more than a few text exchanges.

You like accents? Great, well the guy you’re about to meet has a very strong European one and now you know exactly how attracted you’ll be to the words that fall from his mouth. Or maybe you don’t like accents? Well … did you not realised the name he had displayed on his profile (Jo) had been shortened from José? Lucky escape here then, now you won’t have to hide your disappointment from the moment he says hello and kisses your cheek.

Maybe you like someone who comes across manly and in control of things going on around him? Good job he sent you that voice note of that weird laugh giggle he does then aye? Maybe that’s something you can look past, I don’t know. But what I do know is that you’re prepared, it won’t be a shock turn off that you’ll have to hide. Maybe you won’t mind that he’s not as macho as you’re wanting, because you’ve been having such great conversations.

So you cant stand talking to a girl who uses the word ‘mate’ excessively … ask her to send you a voice note about her day! Getting someone to speak in a long sentence will make sure they use all the normal vocabulary that they do in every day life, it will be easier to catch a slip up that way. Now you won’t have to grimace away from her when she calls you mate, as an expression of excitement about something you’re telling her.

Maybe you’ve realised that they say ‘erm’ a lot? At least now you know it wasn’t just first date nerves, thats actually their choice of sentence filler. Find it annoying? At least you found out before you met them!

A voice note can save you from a thousand awkward situations, you will no longer be as in the dark before you meet someone like you may have been previously. You now know more about them, but obviously it doesn’t mean you should make all of your prejudgements this way! Good luck.

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The Dating ‘Apocalypse’

You’ve probably heard of the “Dating Apocalypse,” and how it leaves every single person out there frustrated, confused, and discouraged. But it’s is a lie, dating is alive and well. Dating is THRIVING, which contributes to said singles’ frustration. It’s dating exclusively that’s the frustrating part , or at least in this city. And while London might be an on-steroids version of the “Dating Exclusively Apocalypse,” anywhere with apps and liberal values will be affected.

Let’s first take a look at all the reasons why the system is broken (note: this is a handy summary to share with grand/parents, colleagues, and anyone else who “can’t understand how [you’re] single!!!”. We’ll then all laugh nervously and discuss how to maintain sanity while partaking in the social experiment that is dating. in. 2017.

1. The “Paradox of Choice”
A decade ago, Psychologist Barry Schwartz gave a seminal TED talk on “The Paradox of Choice.” If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s still one of my favs. The gist: when we’re faced with too many options, we become paralyzed in our decision-making process. Should we actually make a choice, we end up feeling dissatisfied because we question whether we made the “right” one. For example, you go to buy a box of cereal and have 30 to choose from. Overwhelmed, you labor over which cereal to go home with, finally choosing the Cornflakes fifteen minutes later but stressed AF throughout the decision-making process. You get home and wonder if you should’ve chosen the Cheerios instead. The next morning you eat your bowl of Cornflakes skeptically, resentful to them for getting soggy faster or being less social at parties than you imagine a bowl of Cheerios would. And a couple days later when you pop into Tesco to pick up toothpaste (which also take 15 mins longer than it should), you pick up a box of Cheerios

Now replace “Cornflakes” with “David” and “Cheerios” with “Charles” and “the cereal aisle” with “Your relationships” and you understand the destructive effect of dating apps on commitment and satisfaction. AND imagine you could access the cereal in Germany or L.A. or Brazil as well (coughTindercough)!

Once upon a time, proximity was the primary way people met: we lived in the same building, ran in the same friend circle, or worked in the same office. Now, we not only have access to an endless supply of options in our city, we truly can date anywhere in the world. A weekend visit to Paris? Put it on points! That Aussie guy you met surfing in Bali? Skype sex!

2. Phantom daters in the online pool
If someone’s on an app, it means they’re committed to trying to find someone, right? Wrong. Apps are an emotionally unavailable person’s dream. You can titrate your vulnerability (yep, yours truly over here), seek distraction from your uncomfortable feelings, and instantly find reassurance of your desirability…then forget the app exists when you feel whole again. So for those of us who are frustrated because we don’t know where that girl we had that long talk about politics with disappeared to, or that guy we matched with who won’t respond, they’re probably still getting over their ex or are now busy with work or are seeing someone else or just aren’t that into you but wanted someone to talk to when they were feeling lonely that night.

These “phantom daters” create the intermittent reinforcement that keeps us mind-fucked and “dating defensively” (which I’ll explain shortly). We become conditioned to feel anxiety, distrust, and pessimism around dating because the “phantom dating” experience creates the illusion of connection–that inevitably unravels and leaves us a little more disconcertingly unfazed each time.

3. “Defensive Dating” out of uncertainty that actually perpetuates the cycle
The strategy is to date multiple people at once to protect oneself from the anxiety of “all your eggs in one basket” abandonment. We used to assume a mutually identified connection with someone meant things would progress. Now, because we have limitless understudies at our fingertips (literally), there’s no security in said connection; thus the defensive dating strategy diversifies our portfolios.

The problem with this strategy, though, is it perpetuates the cycle. Why? GRE refresher time! “If Megan is dating three people, and each man Megan is dating is dating two other women, how many people stand to get hurt should things progress to an exclusive place with any of the individuals involved?” And what does each rejected party take away from the experience? Anxiety, skepticism, guardedness, and… yep… more “defensive dating” as a way of navigating the minefield.

4. Other-oriented perfectionism (unrealistic expectations)
Because we’re a generation of individuals who’ve been taught to “never settle,” we’re all waiting for unicorns. We might meet someone with whom we have an amazing connection, similar values, and unbelievable sex, but their grammar isn’t perfect or they’re a terrible cook or they have an itsy-bitsy freckle next to their nose that you find suuuper distracting. Not only does this prevent deepening of the “situationship,” it has a boomerang-back-to-the-unlimited-supply-of-alternatives effect.

5. Dissolution of religion
Organized religion is so last century, and anxiety, divorce, and ambivalence about marriage are totes on-trend. Some studies actually show divorce rates are higher in Christian marriages than atheist ones, but that’s because you have to actually get married to get divorced (and atheist couples are less likely to get married than Christian ones). Religion is rarely the sole impetus to seeking an exclusive relationship, but there’s no denying its influence.
6. The liberation of women
I’m not complaining about this over here, but it’s worth mentioning. While the wage gap and many other forms of inequality are DEFINITELY STILL A THING, women are no longer forced to marry to survive. We’re now allowed to earn an income of our own, both legally and culturally, thus one major “need” to partner is now irrelevant. And this allows us to be choosier and less committal.

7. Children-of-divorce with resultant attachment issues and skepticism around relationship longevity/monogamy (I am a guilty party in this one)
The aforementioned dissolution of religion and liberation of women skyrocketed our parents’ divorce rates and produced a millennial generation of attachment issues, marital disenchantment, and relational skepticism. Not every child of divorce is going to be insecurely attached, and not every child from an in-tact family is going to be securely attached, but the correlation is real.

Well, this is bleak. What do we do about it?
Similar to the psychological struggles people bring into my office, knowing the “why” doesn’t necessarily equate to resolution. We can’t easily revert to a time when we didn’t have a date vending machine at our fingertips – to a time when people weren’t so disposable.

But there are a few things we can do. And trust me, I highlight these “best dating practices” to cultivate integrity in my own behavior alongside a call to action for my fellow singles. Self preservation-driven or not, it’s up to us to fix the broken system:

Make it clear on your profile and in-person whether or not you’re looking for a relationship in the near(ish) future. If you’re healing a broken heart or a workaholic or emotionally unavailable and not looking for anything “real” for another reason, no judgment, but be explicit about it. You’ll prob still attract a bunch of people on a mission to “change” you, but at least they’ve signed the waiver.

Recognize beyond a certain point, more choice=greater frustration and less satisfaction. Sure, you may wanna keep a couple prospects around in initial stages for comparison (and diversification) purposes, but after a few dates with someone with whom you see potential, stop swiping for everyone’s sake.

Accept that everyone has flaws. You’re looking to be with a human, and humans are imperfect. Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship knows there are times when you feel so annoyed or repulsed by your partner you can’t imagine ever having sex with them again (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about). But remember the idea that you’re always going to want to tear each other’s clothes off or never need time apart is just another lie media tells us to believe we’re failing at life. So stop focusing on flaws and keeping yourself chronically dissatisfied.

Remember: It’s not you, it’s the system.
Accept that people will ghost you. They won’t always look like their pictures or be as witty as they were when they had several minutes to craft their banter. They’ll bail last-minute, take forever to respond to texts, and date multiple people unbeknownst to you. You will feel anxious, rejected, jealous, disappointed, and pissed off. But try. not. to take it. personally. None of this is about you, and we’re all experiencing the same shit-show.

Get therapy. Everyone should get therapy. Yes, usually none of this is about you, but we all try to heal our childhood wounds in our relationships. I, for example, tend to sabotage or run from things before they progress into a place of seriousness where I could hurt or be hurt.
I love to date seemingly unbreakable assholes on whom I’ll never fully rely, or “wounded” peeps by whom I feel needed and can trust will NEVER LEAVE ME.

When you experience the inevitable anxiety or rejection of dating, try not to react mindlessly (i.e. jumping back on the apps or throwing yourself into work). If we wake up to it, dating can actually be an opportunity for serious spiritual and emotional growth.
Taking advantage of these “opportunities for awakening” allows us to dig into some of our unresolved shit and practice different ways of coping with uncomfortable feelings (for example, self-compassion vs. numbing).We have the power to change the culture of dating, but in order to do so we have to learn how to wake up in these moments.