Ghosting, Breadcrumbing & Submarining — WTF Does It All Mean & Is Any of It Okay?

Dating in your 20s is weird. Mix in Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, Bumble, Hinge or whatever social/dating platforms you keep up with, and things get even weirder. Much like many other millennial women, I've had my fair share of horror stories when it comes to the dating world — I've been ghosted and I've been the ghostee (it be like that). What's even worse is when every other online dating 'trend' comes into play — breadcrumbing, benching, cushioning, zombie-ing (really?) and more. TBH, I've probably been 'zombied' at some point and don't even know it.

I've always been so fascinated with how people feel about online dating trends and communication. I recently felt inspired by this article and several others that provided some pretty hot takes on what's considered "right" or "wrong" in millennial dating culture. I can't lie, guys — I've definitely ghosted someone before. It doesn't feel good, but it def felt like it needed to be done for my own sake and protection. So, I wanted to see where the Her Campus team stood on all those dating trends. Should we feel bad about ghosting? Don't we all breadcrumb in one way or another? Are all these dating terms making these actions justifiable? Here's what my colleagues had to say during this week's Chit Chat in the Office:

Ghosting — what are our thoughts?

"I feel like there's a system to ghosting. You can ghost someone after one date if you're not feeling it. But if it's two or three dates and you ghost them, I honestly feel like that's kind of shitty." — Giana

"You can instantly know if you'll be able to open up to them or not within the first few dates, so you can just go 'bye' if you're not feeling it. I feel like the rule is no one really owes anyone anything." — Edel

"So, I was out at the bars, and some guy asked for my number and wanted to get breakfast the next day. At the time I was all about it, but then he texted me that next morning and I was like...oh no. I just didn't answer the text. I think it's situational in this case — if you're invested in someone, you kind of owe them an explanation in my opinion. But if you don't know them, I think it's okay to just let it go." — Jenna

"If you guys have mutual friends, that's definitely weird to ghost them. However, if they're just some random person from Tinder, fair game. Sorry if that's blunt, but fair game in my opinion." — Neula

How do we feel about labels like ghosting and breadcrumbing?

"I think adding the label on it just reaffirms that other people are doing the same thing that we're doing. I don't think it makes it taboo or anything necessarily, but it makes you feel like, okay, other people are doing this, so it's not that bad that I'm doing it." — Giana

"These labels are really just an excuse to not be direct. Once you're honest about whatever it is, like telling them you just want to be casual or actually want to invest in them, it's like a WEIGHT lifted off your shoulder." — Edel

What role does social media play in all of this?

"I mean, just recently, a friend of mine was chatting with a guy on Snapchat and then he did something really weird. She asked if she should ghost him and I said yeah, I think it's fine to ghost at this point." — Steph

"Social media adds a huge part to it. Liking someone's Instagram photo of watching someone's Insta story has become a 'thing'. Listen: if he liked your Instagram photo, that doesn't mean he likes you — maybe it was just a really cool photo of your dog. I think this ties back into the whole idea of just being more direct in dating. The more direct, especially in the beginning stages, the better." — Neula

"Okay, but it's offputting to be direct with someone right away." — Jenna

"YES, it feels like you're coming off strong." — Giana

"It's a weird game of liking someone's photo, adding them on this platform, texting them at this time, all of that, before bringing up the proposition of actually dating them or investing time in them." — Jenna

Much like several other things happening in our always-online culture, it's hard to pin down exactly what's right or wrong because things aren't necessarily black or white. Context matters. History and personal past experience matters. Whether you are cool with ghosting or totally against it, understanding why people do or don't do it can help us see eye-to-eye in this muddled millennial dating landscape. 

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