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Dating terms and what they mean

Modern dating is not for the faint-hearted. You can devote time and energy to a new partner, only to find that they don’t do the same in return. Sometimes, their change in behaviour is obvious. Other times, it can take a while to spot that things aren’t quite right.

Luisa Williams from My Family Psychologist shares some common behavioural tactics and dating terms you might not have heard of, but may have unknowingly encountered.


As if being ghosted wasn’t bad enough, there’s cloaking. While ghosting means that your potential partner stops replying to your messages and disappears from your life , cloaking also involves blocking you on social media. It definitely sends the message across but makes things even more confusing and hurtful.

People who are on the receiving end often wonder what they did wrong but usually it’s not about them at all.

When someone leaves without an explanation it’s often a sign of emotional immaturity or lack of communication skills. Some might struggle mentally and before they get their head around crafting an explanatory message, they might feel like it’s too late to reach out and say anything.


Firedooring is when one person makes all the effort in a relationship while the other takes advantage of the arrangement often because they’re incapable of being on their own.

For example, you might be the one who always makes plans and your potential partner only contacts you when they have no one else to go out with.

This kind of relationship might be particularly difficult to end for people who have low self-esteem but in the long run, it might make you feel like you aren’t good enough so it’s best to cut ties as soon as you realise what’s going on to protect your own wellbeing.


Haunting is used to describe the act of following your social media accounts by someone who previously cut off all contact with you. It’s even worse than ghosting because it might give you a false hope that they’re still interested. However, people who do it are often just hoping for a hookup and don’t value you as a person.


Breadcrumbing is when your love interest strings you along by giving you attention here and there but never fully commits to plans and often disappears for a few days without a word.

This kind of non-committal behaviour boosts their ego and ensures they always have someone on hand to talk to when they’re feeling lonely.

But when you’re on the receiving end, the experience might be confusing, make you question your sense of judgement and make you feel guilty for not recognising the red flags quick enough.


Stashing is when someone enjoys seeing you in private but not out in public. If your partner hasn’t introduced you to their friends or family yet or hasn’t made your relationship public, you might be experiencing stashing.

There might be many reasons behind it; your partner might feel genuinely insecure about introducing you to the most important people in their lives but they might also be dating someone else they don’t want you to know about, looking to keep their options open, or don’t see you as girlfriend/boyfriend material.

Whatever the reason, it’s best to have an honest conversation as soon as possible. Stashing makes it difficult to trust your partner, or future partners, and might negatively impact your self-esteem.

Even though you might be able to recognise the red flags, you might still find it difficult to leave the unhealthy relationship.

If you feel like you always choose the wrong people to date and follow the same patterns, you might benefit from therapy to explore the root cause.

If you need help and support understanding a toxic relationship you can contact My Family Psychologist, who offer specialised counselling services.

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The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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