There seems to be a new dating trend every other week, explaining how Generation Z is getting it on in ways never conceived of before. Except, they’re not. Here are 10 dating trends that people in their 30s and 40s will recognise as being very, very not new.
1. The dating trend: Ghosting
What it is: You go on a date. Maybe some dates. Maybe you have sex. Maybe you just hold hands. Then one of you goes silent. They ignore texts, messages, calls and their social media accounts can no longer be stalked. You’re left staring at your phone and boohooing about what’s wrong with you.
What it used to be called: Not calling.
How it used to happen: Um, exactly the same way, just without the social media blackout. Unless you live in the same village or work in the same office, it’s an easy way out of a relationship for the cowardly and conscience-free. It’s shitty, but it’s not new. Oh, and if you’re wondering what’s wrong with you, they were never going to tell you, so revel in the fact that you’re almost certainly less of an arse than they are.
2. The dating trend: Scrooging
What it is: Dumping someone at Christmas. This, allegedly, is a cruel thing to do because it ‘ruins Christmas’.
What it used to be called: Being sensible.
How it used to happen: You’d approach Christmas and think, “Should I splash £100 on this person I want to break up with? Should I spend half my jolly holidays wondering when and how to ditch them? Should I forsake the chance of a New Year’s Eve bunk-up because it might make their turkey taste sour?” And you’d probably conclude: no, I shouldn’t. Also, if you’re going to get dumped, wouldn’t you rather it was followed by some time off work, surrounded by family, friends and sherry?
3. The dating trend: Vulturing
What it is: Hovering on the edges of a dying relationship, hoping for scraps when it all goes tits up.
What it used to be called: On the rebound/Sloppy seconds.
How it used to happen: Again, very similar, just on a more local level – social media makes it a lot easier to scan crippled relationships on a national or even international level, before digitally swooping with a commiserate DM. What hasn’t changed is the stench of desperation emanating from anyone who indulges in this practice. Actual vultures would be ashamed.
4. The dating trend: Kittenfishing
What it is: Pretending to be someone you’re not on a date. Like catfishing, but in the flesh.
What it used to be called: Dating.
How it used to happen: You’d turn up to a date and pretend to be someone you’re not. We’re not talking fake passports and accents here, we’re talking about pretending to be more confident, exaggerating what we do at work, adding one or two countries or films to those we’ve actually visited or seen. Sometimes giving yourself a cool nickname that nobody has ever called you. Only a sociopath or religious zealot is their true self on a first date.
5. The dating trend: Breadcrumbing
What it is: This is the apparently annoying habit of people (mainly men) not immediately and comprehensively telling the other person how much they like them, and instead offering titbit compliments.
What it used to be called: Playing it cool.
How it used to happen: Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen, goes the phrase that you rarely see on motivational tea towels. The more balanced version is that taking your time over a relationship and not declaring your undying love with fewer than 100 hours of contact time in the bank, is a sensible way to approach a relationship. Anyone who has worn his heart on his sleeve, only for that sleeve to be doused in petrol and introduced to a match, or for the cold light of normal hormonal levels to require a quick de-sleeving of said heart, could only agree.
6. The dating trend: You-turns
What it is: Someone goes full pelt into a relationship, absolutely not breadcrumbing, but chucking the whole loaf and a couple of seeded baps at the person they’re dating, before realising that perhaps they’re not quite as keen as their sexual urges originally told their brain they were.
What it used to be called: Getting carried away.
How it used to happen: See heart-on-sleeve comments above.
7. The dating trend: Outsourcing
What it is: People getting their friends to take control of their dating apps and profiles because either they think their friends will be wittier and make better decisions, or because they’re lazy.
What it used to be called: Getting your mate to tell their mate that you fancy them.
How it used to happen: It’s a humiliation cushion. Your mate tells their mate, their mate tells them, they pretend to puke in their mouth and laugh, their mate tells you that they’re not interested, you fake ignorance of the whole tragic series of events, nobody believes you.
8. The dating trend: Cookie-jarring
What it is: While you date someone, you maintain contact with potential alternatives/fall-back options.
What it used to be called: Hedging your bets.
How it used to happen: Not only was this prevalent, it was a lot easier. No social media upon which to post photos of a suspiciously friendly encounter with an ‘other’. No way for the ‘other’ to know for sure that you’re dating someone else. Expensive texts messages making a slip of the thumb were far less likely.
Read more: Why your 30s is the best time of life
9. The dating trend: Cushioning
What it is: Breaking up with someone in a nice way. This is apparently a trend. Ok.
What it used to be called: Being kind (and probably lying).
How it used to happen: An emotional but mature conversation in which the dumper would explain to the dumpee the reasons for the dumping, and hope that, once things had healed, they could remember why they once loved each other and use this as the foundation of a lifelong friendship. There might be some resistance, some attempt to persuade the dumper onto a different course, but it would all be very civilised. Either that or the dumper would say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” thinking that anyone would actually buy that line.
10. The dating trend: Talking
What it is: According to the Huffington Post, it is “texting between two people who have a clear interest in one another in some romantic or sexual way, but who aren’t ready to make anything official”.
What it used to be called: Flirting.
How it used to happen: In exactly the same way. I mean, really?