Relationships: 4 toxic dating trends explained


Those who orbit may have hinted at liking you and are usually very flirtatious. Photo: 123rf

Have you been breadcrumbed, paperclipped or orbited? If you don’t have the slightest clue as to what those words mean, don’t worry, TikTok has you covered. Users on the social app have given labels to toxic dating trends.

While navigating the dating scene is a circus on its own, trying to keep up with the trends and terms can be challenging. If you miss out on knowing what certain things mean, there’s a chance you’ll miss out on the key signs to avoid what could be a disastrous dating situation.

Here are four toxic dating trends and their meanings.


If you find yourself in a situation where you like someone who’s giving you just enough to keep you interested but not enough to make it official, then you’re experiencing breadcrumbing – which is when someone leaves a trail of enough attention to keep stringing you along without any actual effort.

Those who breadcrumb usually contact you when they’re lonely and are seeking validation, USA Today wrote. Other examples include a person who might like you but isn’t ready to settle down, or unfortunately, they might already be in a relationship and have you as a backup plan.


Orbiting is like ghosting but with a bit of stalking. Ghosting is when someone stops talking to you altogether with no explanation as to why they disappeared.

Those who orbit may have hinted at liking you and are usually very flirtatious. Typically it’s an ex-lover or an ex-friend. They might not respond to texts, phone calls or social media messages, but they will look at your social media, view a story and like a post.


Ever read a book and used a paperclip or bookmark to hold your place? That’s exactly what paperclipping is, and it usually involves an ex. This action sometimes involves orbiting, as they want to keep you on the back burner. An ex might reach out to offer help or see how your family is doing, etc.

Paperclipping “perpetuates the idea that people are disposable. That they’re not individuals, but rather things to be objectified”, clinical psychologist Carla Manly told USA Today.


Much like making a grocery list, relationship-shopping is when someone dates with a long list of relationship standards based on desires, not necessities. Those who relationship-shop can be very demanding from the beginning and might ask a lot of personal questions even before a first date. According to dating coach Blaine Anderson, if you’re the one with the list, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

“You’re setting yourself up for not feeling fulfilled and satisfied in your dating life,” Anderson said. “If you don’t know what your end goal looks like, it’s hard to know when to stop.”

Experts said dating has become increasingly harder because a lot of “interactions and hookups aren’t that meaningful anymore”, hinting that lack of communication is why ghosting and other relationship struggles and toxic dating terms exist. – Tribune News Service/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Ebony Williams

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