modern love: what are these new online behaviours about?

modern love: what are these new online behaviours about?

One the impacts of digital usage is the rapidity with which we now use smartphones to both connect and disconnect on the dating scene. In the ten years of so of iPhone usage the scene itself has, arguably, shifted from “meatspace” to a host of virtual hangouts such as plentyoffish (pof),, Tinder-and is fast moving into the more mature demographic (e.g.

In turn behaviours have now changed. There appears to be an overarching sense of entitlement and, perhaps unsurprisingly, disposability either emerging or prevalent in the online dating scene. Most of these behaviours are seen as a kind of “new normal” amongst Millennials and iGeners[1]. Most of these dating habits, though, are analogous to hurtful, near abusive behaviours in “meatspace”, and their intentionality might be seen as very worrying.

What are we to make of this? Research suggests that there is a growing sense of narcissistic and nihilistic attitudes prevailing in iGen[2], the generation now waiting in the wings to take a cultural and hence social and political centre stage. That this will have a profound impact on culture generally is in no doubt. How it will precisely impact we do not now. But we will do. Soon.

Here is a short, not at all exhaustive, glossary of these new dating behaviours.

  1. Benching: You go out for a while with someone you like but they don’t light your fire so much. So, you “bench” them and look for somebody better. If nobody better comes along, you take them off the bench-till you find somebody better.
  2. Catfishing: you have created a fictional online persona and you hide behind this. It’s not always so obvious you have done this, so the recipient is falling for a fictional “you”.
  3. Breadcrumbing: you send out a flirty short text but it intentionally leads nowhere. Your recipient feels slightly discombobulated to say the least, often worried and anxious about you.
  4. Cushioning: You see somebody you like but they are going out with somebody else. You ping him/her on WhatsApp, tag her/him on Facebook or Instagram. You have an ulterior motive though; when-if-the relationship breaks up you can then swoop in and be the cushion he/she falls back on.
  5. Ghosting: sending a series of (e.g.) texts that suggest a relationship is beginning then it quickly disappears when you cut off. You are never usually heard of again.
  6. Zombieing: This is when you’ve ghosted a person but then you resurface later, just leaving them a short time to nurse or get over the hurt and raw feelings. Then-pow-you hurt them again.
  7. Haunting: This is when you have ghosted someone then you suddenly pop up again, perhaps in what seems like a random Instagram post or Facebook post. Why? It puts his/her head in a spin.
  8. Kitten-fishing: Tinder users might have experienced this a few times. It’s where you create a powerfully modified image for yourself online, in terms of both your look and your personality. You could pretend to be an intellectual or a model, it just depends on who you might want to attract. It’s not real, it’s not meant to be. It is like catfishing.
  9. Jekyll and Hydeing: in the flesh when you are together (alone) you are full of affection to him/her but you freeze out your prospective partner anywhere else
  10. Catch and release: you put all your effort into the chase and you catch him/her. Then you suddenly lose interest and he/she is left bereft and hurt.
  11. Sidebarring: you are with your date but spend 70% more time on the phone.

Short attention spans, relativistic and at times arbitrary moral values, a powerful sense of entitlement[3], low self-esteem and a wounded child range of behaviours.

What might we make of this?



[3] and see Will Storr Selfie: How the West Became Self-Obsessed

Leave a Reply