According to dating site eharmony, game-changing platforms like Happn, Bumble and Tinder mean that by the end of the decade, half of all couples will meet online. Bumble’s chief brand officer, Alex Williamson, says there’s an ever-prevailing belief that it’s “outdated and old school to meet people in person”, with online platforms allowing you to “get a broader view” of potential partners.
Etiquette expert, Myka Meier, who has hosted modern dating classes in New York’s The Plaza, reveals that most of her clients prefer to meet online, echoing Williamson with the observation that it enables you to “pre-screen compatibility”.
What it also means, is more choice. And that’s not always a good thing.
The ‘paradox of choice’ dictates that, while it’s generally positive to have options in life, too many can stunt decision-making. It’s a principle described as ‘maximising’ by Barry Schwartz in his book, The Paradox of Choice, with maximisers treating relationships like clothing, wanting to try on as many items before “finding the perfect fit”: “For a maximizer, somewhere out there is the perfect lover, the perfect friends. Even though there is nothing wrong with the current relationship, who knows what’s possible if you keep your eyes open.”
Such choice is intrinsically linked to that other online dating minefield: keeping up with the ever-expanding dialogue that usually describes dastardly behaviour, often of said maximisers. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the likes of ‘ghosting’ (when someone unexpectedly completely cuts contact), or ‘catfishing’ (when someone pretends to be someone they’re not), the digital dating dictionary concocts more.
‘Snowmanning’ was a term that entered the ether just in time for Christmas and (the northern hemisphere) winter, with a fittingly festive ring to it. But forget any feel-good Santa’s sleigh bells-like implications, this is a reference to a fling that, well, melts. And it was coined by none other than eharmony.
“Christmas is a time for celebration and presents great opportunity to socialise and find someone special,” says eharmony relationship expert, Rachel Lloyd. “However, once the drinks stop flowing and decorations come down, sometimes that initial burst of chemistry wears off. Our research shows that lots of people then retreat from their new relationships, a trend we are coining ‘snowmanning’.”
“People have previously waited for that classic closure, but unfortunately in the day of social media, closure is not a thing you will get,” podcaster and radio host Phoebe Parsons tells ABC. “Recognising people’s behaviours and identifying them with a name, like ghosting, benching or cloaking—that gives you closure.”
Such ‘closure’, then allows you to get “back in the driver’s seat” and “back to dating”.
Here’s a run-down of some more dating dialogue:
Zombieing: ghosting with a double dose of spite—when the same person ghosts you twice. That’ll teach you for showing faith and forgiveness!
Benching: keeping someone on the boil, but at arm’s length, while pursuing potentially a more promising relationship(s).
Cloaking: another riff on ghosting, however, you’re not only ignored, but unmatched and blocked on all other apps.
Orbiting:when a former flame continues to connect—without actual conversation—on social media in the form of likes or Instagram Stories views (yup, you can see who looks at your stories on Insta). Depending on your feelings for the ‘orbiter’, it’s seen as flirtation or outright online stalking.
Tindstagramming: when someone connects on Tinder, then hunts you down on Instagram. This could also be considered as online stalking.
Haunting: online stalking.
Fizzing: like ghosting, but it’s mutual, without a formal break-up.
Breadcrumbing: when someone tempts with a trail of interest in the form of occasional texts or likes.
Roaching: when it turns out someone you’ve been seeing, you thought at least semi-seriously, for a while, has also been seeing plenty of others then claims they didn’t think it was supposed to be monogamous. In future, DTR!
DTR: define the relationship.
Divorcing in the Digital Age
The Beidane people comprise more than 100 tribes spread across five North African countries including Algeria and Morocco, with a somewhat progressive attitude towards marriage and women. Rather than forbid divorce, as is so often the case in ancient cultures, the Beidanes hold celebrations that they see as honouring the end of a marriage, appreciating the woman’s continuing value, and marking the start of a transitional period towards a new love.
Similar—though often more raucous—traditions known as ‘divorce parties’ are gaining traction in the West, usually akin to reverse stag-dos or hen nights. “I’ve seen a bride burn their wedding dress on a barbecue,” event planner Steven Mangan tells the Irish Mirror, “after getting guests to throw small pots of paint over it.” Other acts have included smashing wedding gifts and scribbling out names from a guest book effectively also “divorcing the friends”.
As a wedding is so often termed ‘the bride’s day’ women, too, are more likely to take the lead in celebrating divorce. “There are definitely more women making these plans than men,” Las Vegas-based event organiser Andrea Eppolito tells the LA Times. “In fact, we rarely know it’s a divorce party with men until they get here… it’s usually just a boys’ night out, and they do not want to be told what to do.”
Christine Gallagher, author of The Divorce Party Planner, says that such events are an excellent way of letting off steam in the company of loved ones, while also thanking them for their support. Most importantly, for mental wellbeing, Gallagher says divorce must not be viewed as a failure or rejection, rather a “part of life” and a positive step on the road to future happiness.