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The bad and the ugly – negative online dating trends

Following on from our recent article on online safety, we thought we’d have a look at some of the latest negative trends related to online dating and related interactions. While these do not present huge dangers if you apply common sense and recommended precautions, they none the less can become persistent irritations and have the potential to disrupt your normal, everyday communications.


We are going to take a look at some of the current issues that we are noticing and advise you about what you can do if you are unfortunate enough to be affected by any of them.

‘Ghosting’ – the problem

This is surely not a new problem and has been around long before online dating became popular. It doesn’t take much explanation as it simply refers to the situation where someone who you have started to strike up some kind of relationship with simply disappears. This may have been confined to just online/electronic communication or could include a date or two that you actually went on. Whichever, it can be quite hurtful when somebody you thought you were getting on with just vanishes and won’t answer any of your communiques.

‘Ghosting’ – what to do about it

To be honest, there’s little you can do about this unless you are wanting to get extremely vengeful and track that MOFO down and make them pay! You should just adopt the attitude that it’s not worth dwelling on and simply move on. It’s not reflection of anything negative about yourself and therefore shouldn’t let it value yourself any the less. In fact, the opposite is usually true and people who behave like this are just not nice and don’t care about others. Count yourself lucky that you have found out at an early stage that this person is nothing more than a weak-hearted and weak-minded, selfish individual. “Good riddance” should be your cry!

‘Swerving’ – the problem

Related to, but perhaps in some ways even worse than ‘ghosting,’ this is when someone you have had some form of initial relationship with starts to find ways not to be available but without directly informing you that they not interested. They may be ‘too busy at the moment’ to meet, only responding in short to your messages while not initiating any contact themselves or sending meaningless messages to just say “hi” without any further content. Whatever, this is cruel behaviour designed to leave people hanging-on without offering any real hope for the future.

‘Swerving’ -what to do about it

Much the same as in the case of ‘ghosting,’ the best form of response to this behaviour is to move on and forget about this person. As you do have some form of communication open, though, send them an ultimatum with a strict time limit in which they have the chance to show some kind of commitment. If they are unable to do so, sever all ties and tell them to go away very directly. Then move on and find the nice people.

‘Bread crumbing’ – the problem

This can be defined as: “the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (ie “breadcrumbs”) to members of the opposite sex in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.” (from The Urban Dictionary, which has become something of a go to reference point for modern day lingo). Figuratively speaking, this relates to the idea of those pesky breadcrumbs that manage to scatter a few unseen particles around that you thought you had already cleared up, only to find the odd one at different times later on. In effect, it refers to brief contacts you have had with people which may have led to little or nothing; you may have had online chats, liked each other on a site or even perhaps gone on date or two which didn’t really lead to anything serous, and you had pretty much put it out of your mind. Then, out of the blue, that person suddenly starts to make contact again briefly before going silent again.

While this doesn’t necessarily pose much of a threat, it can be extremely annoying by distracting you with thoughts of what may or may not have been in the past. It could even come across as offering a fleeting glimmer of hope of wanting to try again with someone who you were really quite interested in. Then communication stops and they disappear again.

Examples of this type of behavior could be things like someone suddenly reacting to or commenting on a post you have put on social media, an unexpected text message on your birthday or an email to inform you that said person will be ‘in town’ and suggesting a meet-up. Any response from you is often met with silence from them again.

What to do about it

  • The first step is not to respond: often this type of behaviour, while perhaps in the mind of the doer makes them feel in control, is actually pretty childish. They are looking for some kind of attention so don’t give them any and they may well just go away again.
  • Remove any chance of contact: go back and make sure you have removed them as a friend on any of your social media sites and that you are not accidentally following them on any dating sites. Block their number if you had communicated by telephone or text message.
  • Call them out: if you are confident enough and don’t mind playing along, tell them that you will meet them and arrange a time and place (that will not put you out too much). If they are in agreement, perhaps a meeting would be worthwhile; you can either tell them properly where to go in person or play it by ear if things should go unexpectedly well.

‘Orbiting’ – the problem

This is a bit of weird one and it’s a kind of cross between ‘ghosting’ and ‘bread crumbing.’ It is when somebody you have been in contact with completely stops responding to any of your messages and refuses to have any direct contact with you. At the same time, they will respond to your social media activity with likes, dislikes or other emoticons but never with a comment. They clearly want you to be aware that they are still out there but without any real interaction, like a kind of digital ‘peeping tom.’

‘Orbiting’ – what to do

Because this is such a strange one, it can be hard to figure out why they are doing this and so can also be hard to work out what to do. The obvious are things like we have discussed in response to the problem of ‘bread crumbing’ by blocking, deleting or barring them in your social media. If this doesn’t work, contacting the admin of relevant pages and going through the relevant complaint’s procedures can work. If this happens within an online dating site, the administrators are usually very helpful and tough on those who break the rules.

‘Draking’ – the problem

To finish on a slightly more light-hearted note, though not to demean the nastiness of these kinds of behavior, ‘draking’ is one of the more bizarre terms we have come across. Apparently, it refers to the phenomena of posting ‘moody’ song lyrics and ‘cryptic’ quotes online instead of directly discussing the painful emotions of a break-up. We’re not sure what the man himself (after which it is named) would feel about this nor how exactly how people know they’re getting their message across, other than maybe in something like an Instagram feed that someone hadn’t been removed from.  Perhaps, though, it could be quite unnerving if it does reach it’s intended target.

What to do?

The only things we can think of have probably already been mentioned in terms of blocking, which does also apply to Instagram.

Call it what you will

Finally, just a quick word on the trend of labelling these kinds of behaviours with everyday type phrases and euphemisms. While there is some truth in the idea that as online dating has become so common that it could be considered part of everyday life, and therefore that it is natural to use everyday comparisons in the language that we use, it shouldn’t lessen the seriousness of the behaviours themselves. Some people argue that adopting a particular term to a kind of behaviour that others have had a similar experience of may be comforting in knowing that you are not alone and this could also be true to a certain extent. However, these kinds of behaviours, and the many other variations with their own names, are negative behaviours and result in and from negative situations. The majority of them refer to breaking up which is always an upsetting experience no matter how casual or not the relationship had been. Having to digitally separate yourself from someone, too, can add an extra element of hurt.

While there are always ways to counter such negative behaviours in the dating world, the best form of defence is taking as many precautions as possible to try to prevent them happening in the first place. Don’t forget to read our online dating safety tips.

Remember, too, that any of the better dating sites will have good safety features built-in. Take a look at our latest reviews here.


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