Like all other aspects of life in the current era of isolation, online dating has seen substantial changes in the actions and behaviours of its players, leading to all the more often misunderstood signs and subliminal messages that makes one think, “what the hell does this mean?” – The Motley features desk has your back. As part of our Valentine’s weekend special on modern love, we are here to demystify the current dating climate.


This rapid evolutionary change has also seen a further decrease in clear signals, forcing the mind of the individual to fill in the gaps themselves. However, modern language is a wonderful and ever-changing thing to help navigate the peculiar signs you may be receiving from a new tinder match. What is lacking even more than the clear signals your current love interest is refusing to offer is the terminology for these actions. This terminology can help you identify certain behavioural patterns and deepen your understanding of what to expect when said person is acting in an unexpected way. 


So without further ado, here are some terms to help you excel at the increasingly complex game of online dating. As top shagger himself Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “the limits of my language means the limit of my world,” so let’s broaden some horizons and enrich our understanding of the weird but wonderful world of online dating.

1. Paperclipping


“When your crush ignores you, but still occasionally texts you so you don’t forget about him/her/them.” – Urban Dictionary (2019).


We’ve all been ghosted before, and some of us have even ghosted others, but paperclipping is an action perpetrated by those who dislike such comprehensible and definitive action. Paperclippers treat you like reserves, they might not be all that into you, but they also don’t want to completely drop you either. 


They may not contact you for days or even weeks, but they won’t let you forget about them, so next time you feel like you’ve been left on a hook, take some initiative, ghost them and show them who’s boss! 


2. Zombieing


“To have someone you care about disappear from your life altogether only to have them bring a relationship back from the dead with an out-of-the-blue text or interaction on social media.” – Primemind (2017). 


Like I said, we are all aware of the phenomenon of ghosting, but zombieing occurs when a ghost tries to come back from the dead. 


Maybe they finally realised what a catch you really were and regretted their harsh decision, but zombies also exhibit a certain cowardice insofar that they will likely avoid mentioning their initial ghosting, forego an apology and behave as if nothing happened, because who really enjoys the boredom of clear-cut communication and taking responsibility for one’s actions?


How you decide to react when a former ghost comes back to spook you is entirely individual to oneself. Consider what you want from this person, not what you think the zombie wants from you and remember that the ball is in your court, so do with it whatever you please.


3. Haunting


“When someone from your romantic past lingers in your digital present by occasionally watching your Instagram or Snapchat story, or sporadically liking your posts” – (Cosmopolitan, 2017).


If zombieing is considered cowardly, haunting is the act of pure weaklings. If too spineless to slide into those once familiar DM’s of yours, haunters linger among your socials and interact with your online presence, making it increasingly difficult to move on from whatever once was. 


Like a wild bird that has invaded your living room, haunters are a particularly hard breed to remove, but there are some actions you can take to inhibit your haunter’s voyeuristic tendencies. You can (a) remove them from your stories, (b) remove them as a follower or a friend, and for those of you who wake up every morning and choose violence, you can (c) block them from all your socials, burning the bridge that once connected you to one another.


The choice is yours.


The Covid era has caused a seismic shift in the conduct of our everyday lives, and while internet dating is a great way to pass the additional free time we face, it is important now more than ever to take care of one’s self. Zombies, ghosts, and haunters will come and go, but your relationship with yourself is everlasting. To quote the world’s sexiest linguistic philosopher one more time,


“Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.”

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