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Ghosting to love bombing: 6 toxic dating trends of 2023 that are best left behind

If you’re on social media, you have most likely come across this meme: “Men were fighting wars and sending letters to their wives, and I can’t even get a text back now.” Well, this simple meme surely epitomises dating culture in 2023, where swipes have somewhat replaced ‘Love at first glance,’ and sporadic texts outweigh meaningful conversations. Hidden within the allure of finding love in the ‘Bumble’ age, there lies an underbelly of toxic dating patterns.

Simply put, these dating patterns are ‘red flags‘ one should look out for in any relationship. “Toxic dating patterns can be defined as any verbal or non-verbal action that hampers the individuality and self-esteem of a person. For instance, manipulation, over-dependence on a partner, jealousy, excess control, ignorance towards boundaries, are some common signs, which can affect individuals on both the physical and emotional level,” Sidhharrth S Kumaar, relationship coach, NumroVani, explained.

With GenZ entering the scene, the dating realm has a lexicon of its own. So, as we bid adieu to 2023, here are some toxic patterns that dominated the dating scene. From ghosting to micro-cheating, let’s unravel the worst of dating in 2023 (and hope they are best left behind in the new year).

Ghosting

Imagine a conversation that was once lively and engaging, now suddenly fading into the digital abyss, leaving you with the perplexing question, “Wait, did they just pull a Houdini on me?” Yes, that’s ghosting for you. In the dating realm, it’s not just a fade-out. It’s like a magician’s disappearing act that leaves the audience wondering, “Did that just happen?” Even the most seasoned daters may be left with agonising confusion and doubt.

Micro-cheating

Micro-cheating can be described as the cool, undercover cousin of infidelity, who might seem innocent, but when pieced together, creates a mosaic of questionable intent. Picture it as discreet flirtation, a clandestine exchange of glances, or playful banter that may seem harmless on the surface but carries a hint of romantic tension. These seemingly inconspicuous actions may seem like harmless fun but can be the prelude to something more.

Festive offerdating trends (Source: IMDb)

Love Bombing

Someone enters your life armed with an arsenal of compliments, sweet gestures, and an unwavering flood of attention. Makes your heart skip a beat, right? But, as soon as they’ve carved a space for themselves in your ‘cold, cold heart,’ the red flags start to appear. Your romantic blockbuster turns into your worst nightmare. This is exactly what love bombers do.

The term, love bombing, made famous by the Netflix documentary, ‘The Tinder Swindler,’ is a form of psychological or emotional abuse that involves a person going above and beyond you to manipulate you into a relationship, only to devalue you and discard you like a ‘crumpled up piece of paper.’

Orbiting

Orbiting is the digital phenomenon in which a person cuts off all direct, meaningful communication with you but continues to engage with you on social media. It’s like having a UFO sporadically beam into your orbit, leaving you with a sense of celestial curiosity. They might not be commenting on your photos or sliding into your DMs, but they might be liking all your Instagram photos, favouriting your tweets, or engaging in some other superficial way.

Stonewalling

Stonewalling is a communication pattern when one person intentionally shuts down or withdraws from a conversation — refusing to engage or respond to their partner. Picture this: you’re in the midst of a conversation, emotions are running wild, and suddenly, the other person puts up an impenetrable emotional fortress. Instead of expressing their feelings, the person ‘stonewalls’ you, becoming emotionally distant or even avoidant. This ‘silent treatment’ can be used as a tactic to shift blame for relationship problems onto the other person without taking any personal responsibility.

ALSO READ | 2024 is the year of the ‘self’. Here’s how its shaping the dating scene

Gaslighting

The term originates from the play and film ‘Gas Light,’ in which a husband manipulates his wife into questioning her sanity by dimming the gas lights in their home and then denying that the lights are flickering. In dating, gaslighting is the manipulative attempt to make your partner question their own thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by distorting reality through denials, contradictions, projecting blame, and twisting the truth.

Now that we have armed you with awareness, Kumaar shared some tips to deal with these issues. ‘The first and foremost thing is to consult an expert at the earliest. The earlier the things are taken care of, the least impact it will have in the long term. Knowing what is right and what’s not is an effective way of preventing these patterns from occurring. It is also important to set boundaries from the beginning and not let something cripple your decision-making skills,” he said.

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