Ghosting, haunting, breadcrumbing: Figuring out what the f**k is going on

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On Sep 7, 2023

We live in a world of swiping, sexting and sliding into the DMs. Dating, arguably, has gotten easier but in other ways, it is the absolute ghetto.It can be hot trash.

People have found so many ways to connect but also so many ways to also disconnect.

 Sometimes it’s all great sex, dates, nudes and lovely long conversations and other times you feel like you have no idea what the f**k is going on the other person’s phone or in their mind.

We’re going to break down some of the ways people disappear and distance themselves in interactions to give you a little insight into what the hell is going on out there.

Benching: When someone puts a potential relationship on ice for the sake of a more promising one. They may revisit the benched person if the other option falls through. It’s great for the bencher who basically gets a captain’s pick of a romantic partner, but it can be painful and awful for the other person (the benchwarmer).

Also see: Player-On-Loan: You aren’t needed in the first team, so are playing for other teams as well a.k.a. You are seeing other people to kill time with the hope of finally making your dream team. POLs stay ready, stay fit and are still in the game (credit: Candi).  

Breadcrumbing: This is the dating equivalent of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, which leads a romantic interest on. Now please know, this is not a ‘friend zone’ thing but instead the person is  actively trying to have someone catch feelings for them. However they have no intention of actually making it  ‘a thing.’  Folx will keep you focused on them from afar by dropping little bits of attention here and there, whether it be a random text or Instagram ‘like’. Just to give you enough attention to keep you interested but not enough for it to actually be something.  

See also: Being in the warmer which is when you are put in the oven to warm till the person is ready to eat. 

Cloaking: This is ghosting on steroids. It takes it one step further by also blocking the person being ghosted on all platforms. Particularly harsh.  You are not only dead to them but dead and buried, fam. Access absolutely denied.

Cuffing/uncuffing: Sleeping alone in the cold can be hard, we get it fam. Cuffing is when you secure a bae for those long lonely frosty nights. You then uncuff when you have a summer body and the world is back to sun-drenched fun.  Sun’s out, buns out and unfortunately, you’re also out.

COVID cuffing: This is temporary lockdown loving, when you find someone to shack up with when the government locks us down. When the streets are open, you return to them.

Cushioning: If things aren’t as hot and heavy as they were before or a person sees things are coming to an end, they start flirting with other folks to ‘cushion’ the final blow of the break up. It’s like when you try out other apartments before you move out of your current one. 

DTR: Define The Relationship.  This is the crucial moment when you figure out what’s going on between the two (or three or four) of you. What is this thing we are doing? Is we f**king or are we just friends? Is this a booty call or are you about to meet my parents this weekend? What’s going on here fam?

Firedooring: When all the effort put into a relationship is one sided i.e. the door only opens one way like a fire escape. For example, a person who never texts back, never sets up a date and/or will only holler when they want some a**. Meanwhile you are here planning dates, buying data to Facetime and working hard. Playing yo’ self.

Note: Sometimes you need to stop and consider why your energy isn’t being matched. Why are you OK with a lack of reciprocity? We are manifesting reciprocity in this day and age people! In this economy? We must.

Ghosting: The classic move; someone disappears from your life as if dead and becomes… a ghost. When they are *poof* is gone. Ghosting is abrupt and unexpected, the person cuts contact with you on all platforms (WhatsApp, DMs, private message, phone calls etc). It’s usually used to end a relationship rather than having an actual conversation about ending vibes.

Haunting: When someone ghosts you but like Casper the (un)friendly ghost continues to roam around your digital home, liking posts and watching stories. Making their eerie presence known. Instead of just going away, they haunt your social media streets. Why? Hamba. Go. Be gone demon. (Ew.)

Left on read or Blue ticking:  So one person sends messages and the other person does not reply, especially if the messages clearly warrant a reply.  (P.s. we know you’re on your phone, we see you posting on other apps. Why are you like this?).

Orbiting: When you refuse to leave a former fling’s digital space after you have ditched them. This is when folx let someone know that they still exist and still feel them by liking their posts on social media and watching their stories. Circling their digital worlds andbusy leaving their greasy fingerprints all over other people’s posts (again, why do you not just leave?)

Note: A lot of these moves are used together. Orbiting  can be done in the context of ghosting, when the person has you on the bench and they are firedooring you. Basically they won’t put in the effort to interact properly but stay in your social media streets.

Knowing how people are rolling won’t necessarily give you closure or full insight into their motives but at least you have some idea what the hell is going on. Cause wow, it can be rough in these streets.

Y’all stay safe.


Check out the Basically…Life Podcast (on all platforms) and our YouTube series We Are F**kin Here for other vibes that show how queers are livin’, lovin’ and f*ckin.

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