The Dating Vector: People Are The New Vanishing Point

Andreas Joachim Lins

“So, I’ve been dealing with a breadcrumber for a year. The usual: endless phone and video chats, stalking each other on social. Then there’s talk of a date-that never happens! Then he reappears with the random “like” on IG, “hey, WYD?” Whatsapp message, giving me false hope that maybe he’s not an asshole and IS going to make date plans. He reads my messages, but no reply. EVER.” Monica*, 22, European Blogger.

Thought breadcrumbing was just happening to millennials or just Americans? Not according to my latest research! It’s happening for Millennials and GenXers across the globe to both men and women. Many are experiencing it, but don’t know there is a term for it. Regardless of the term, the experience alone should trigger red flags.

Here’s the backstory: Kelly met Jake a year ago, right after he left the mother of his children. Red flag #1. They were on and off, for about 3 months and then he hooked up with his former baby momma and she got pregnant, again. Red flag #2. Fast forward to now, he has been living with the baby momma and two kids, but has reached out to Kelly to rekindle things. Red flag #3. All the while, Kelly is breadcrumbing LaMar who seems like the ideal guy for her. “Kelly openly told me she should try to build something with me instead of going with this guy, but for some reason she is still pressed on the guy.” LaMar, 29, American Programmer.

Supposedly LaMar is a “great role model, a fantastic supporter, a great friend, a great lover, and a great husband”. Yet, she has been balancing both men on and off for about a year now. Red flag #4.

Par for the course in your 20s, it is what social scientists call your “defining decade”. It is the time in life that you establish your career, love life, and your philosophy about the world. In your 40s, you’ve modified some of the ways you dealt with those definitions based on life’s challenges. You are better at calculating risk and measuring volatility when it comes to your sense of sanity. Long gone are the days of spending years in unfulfilling jobs or relationships. Or is it?

Deb Davis, 48, an American Healthcare Professional, explains “I connected with this man who I had known met for “coffee” and spent 5 1/2 hours in a coffee shop. I had a message everyday first thing in the morning. The chemistry was something I had not experienced since I had fallen in love for the first time with my daughter’s father. And then nothing!”

We are just looking to connect with one person that isn’t about games. Does breadcrumbing shaming have any impact on your future dating? Not according to Davis, “He told me my first breadcrumber did what he did “because he didn’t care”! Well, WTF a man who wooed me, showed me love, and said “I love you” and then never responded to me again! I think it’s safe to say he did that because “he didn’t care”.”

“For the last 7 years, these 2 guys that I briefly dated (at separate times) have always stayed in touch— they will like some posts on FB or send me messages for valentines’ day, my bday, or xmas. Whatever they say to you, I think they just like to have their ego stroked by having me respond, even if it’s just a polite response. I’’m not mad at either one, so I have not told them to lose my number, but it is very clear to me what they are doing: bread crumbing.” Melissa, 42, American Lawyer.

For many, people hold onto the hope of people not being the assholes they really are. How does breadcrumbing make you feel?

“I’m not so much hurt by it, but 1) I’m curious and wondering if he’s okay (I always viewed him as a friend) and 2) there’s a tiny part of me that assumes he found someone just a little skinnier, just a little prettier. That nagging low self-esteem creeps into the back of my subconscious as much as I try to push it away.” explains Hayley Nesbitt, 26, Canadian author of relationship blog 50 Shades of Tinder.

We’re connecting, not committing. We are only broadcasting the positive aspects of our lives on social media-the highlight reels. If we only broadcast the “look at me”, are we able to deal with the side of rejection, detachment, and non-commitment? In life, you don’t always only get highlight reels. Who is by your side when the non-highlight reel moments occur in life? The drama queen? Baby daddy? 4th dude on tindr? The truth is that breadcrumbers don’t really want to be in a relationship. The idea of one is different than having to really function in one.

In reality, all of these dating trends adds another dimension to an already fractured relationship. “It was a tumultuous relationship to begin with, I just ignored the red flags. There will always be a shadow.” says Phillip, 32, IT Executive.

What should we do to cope?

“I hold out no hope that anything will ever be re-kindled with either one of these guys. If their messages bothered me, I would honestly just delete them from FB or block their numbers. That is the advice I would give to anyone that is upset by this tactic.” Melissa, 42, American Lawyer.

Approaching dating as though it is testing out what I call, Your Happiness Hypothesis, your personal algorithm that can help minimize some of our own expectations. Create an equation or a list that includes the elements that you absolutely require and the elements that you think you want. Focus just on characteristics, qualities and life desires. You might find that dating based on a system testing out your happiness hypothesis, will help you figure out what is a better fit for yourself and not have to rely on someone else’s BS.

Breadcrumbs=carbs! It’s McDonald’s! Run, don’t, walk.

“No-one who loves you would do this to you. Therein lies the only solace you’re going to get: Why would you want to be in a relationship with someone who knowingly causes you this much pain or disrespect?” says David, 44, Finance Executive. 

 

The Dating Paradox

Social media has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. As a Behavioral Scientist, I wonder what causes this paradox? The narratives we share and portray on social media are all positive and celebratory. It’s a hybridized digital version of “Keeping up with the Joneses”. Meaning for some, sometimes it appears everyone you know are in great relationships, taking 5-star vacations and living your dream life.

However, what is shared only broadcasts the positive aspects of our lives-the highlight reels.

Since we’re only getting people’s highlight reels and comparing it to ourselves, it is natural to have reactions to what we’re watching. How does this impact relationships, dating and our love lives? I conducted in-depth interviews with men and women, ranging from ages 28-73, that are active social media users and found that:

  • 60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way
  • 50% reported social media having negative effects on their relationship
  • 80% reported that is easier to deceive others through their social posting

Paradox Effect

It seems that social media is creating a paradox effect: giving off the illusion of many choices, while making it harder to find viable options. Can it be that our highly connected world has now become disconnected? Posting dinners, selfies and vacay photos over human interaction for some is interaction. That IS their interaction. The paradox effect in dating is creating the illusion of having more social engagement, social capital, and popularity, but masking one’s true persona. Since some are interfacing digitally more than physically it is much easier to emotionally manipulate others because they are reliant on what I call “Vanity Validation”. The one you portray on your networks and the true you, for some creates a double consciousness. Your lauded self on social media is constantly seeking more validation through electronic likes, not life. 

Vanity Validation

In the latest Match Singles in America study’s findings on how social media has impacted people’s dating lives, they found that 57% of singles say social media has generated a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). In my study, 50% reported feeling FOMO when comparing themselves to others on social media, while 60% of millennials reported feeling FOMO. Are we comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels? Are we creating a false reality? It seems that we’re only willing to share things that get positive reinforcement. If we’re living through only focusing on the highlight reels, how do we express the negative side of our lives?

If you’re comparing yourself to someone else’s profile, aren’t you discounting yourself? Anything that we share on our streams are things that we’re either excited about or creating some popularity for yourself. Are we supposed to applaud that you eat? Are we supposed to applaud that you are out? Are we supposed to applaud the 100th seflie you took while you were out? Are we beginning to learn to relate to people for immediate gratification only?

Won’t this impact our dating behaviors? If we only broadcast the “look at me”, are we able to deal with the side of rejection, detachment, and non-commitment? Are you surprised when people blow you off or lead you on aka ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb? Yet another paradox. Here we are thinking the world is a positive and reinforcing place, that we are interesting, we’re so popular; then we get ghosted, breadcrumbed, benched.

Another dating trend that doesn’t involve dating: Breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing, is the latest dating trend and label that replaces stringing along. The New York Times describes it as  “They communicate via sporadic noncommittal, but repeated messages — or breadcrumbs — that are just enough to keep you wondering but not enough to seal the deal (whatever that deal may be). Breadcrumbers check in consistently with a romantic prospect, but never set up a date. They pique your interest, of that prospective job, perhaps, by reminding you repeatedly that it exists, but never set up the interview.”

Basically, you’re keeping your options open while stringing someone else along with the least amount of effort or regard for the other person. Like ghosting, the other person is entertaining them when they reach out. What kind of reaching out you ask? Oh, “liking” a photo on IG or fb is the signal that game is back on. Right. What? It’s probably the saddest and minimal amount of effort to demonstrate interest in someone. I mean, we spend more time liking cat photos.

Urbandictionary.com

For us to accept these behaviors with disregard for how it impacts us emotionally is what the core of what I call, The Millennial Virus, is. What is it doing to our sense of self? Are we becoming more narcissistic? Are we becoming more insecure? Are we accepting sub-optimal relationships just to feel connected to something? Is technology driving dating, sex and emotion? Is it creating a generation that is passive-aggressive in life?

As a Behavioral Scientist, what amazes me is the hypersensitivity we all seem to have about almost all aspects of life EXCEPT relationships. Isn’t it interesting that we stand up against bullying, shaming, or political un-correctness; but with people we have interest in we act with total disregard? Some say it’s technology that’s driving our behavior, some say it’s the lack of employment, or that we are to attached to our devices or the way we are cognitively evolving.

Let’s look at some of the most common types that will most likely breadcrumb:

  1. Stalker types. These are the ones that reach out on your social feeds every now and then, but don’t follow-up with any sentences J They treat you like you are a notification on fb that they forgot they were connected to. If they can’t reach out to you in a text, what makes you think they are interested in having something pop off with you?
  2. Booty call types. These are the “DTF” “WYD” messages you’ll get at night. They aren’t interested in going beyond just the sexual set up you have. If this is acceptable to you, proceed with caution. Because it may not evolve into a
  3. Can’t get over you types. These are the ones that reach out to you months and years after it’s over in hopes of rekindling the relationship. If they failed the first time, chances are they aren’t new and improved. They just realize the error in not having you in their lives and hope that you are going to want to waste time with them again.
  4. Predator types. These types stalk you on your social feeds to keep abreast of the latest going on in your life. Once they notice a difference in posts or photos that indicates your seeing someone or they see that your seeing someone, they all of a sudden find you interesting. If they were on the fence about dating you and only reach out because you are happy in a new relationship, enjoy your new relationship.

In all these types, the underlying issue is not just their non-commitment issues, it’s their ego. Filtering through hundreds of profiles, spamming everyone, and getting rejected is rough on the ego. A way to deal with the rejection ratio is to find any kind of attention.  At the end of the day, people want to feel some level of relevance, importance or their own delusions of grandeur. Some get their rocks off by knowing that they’ve hooked you with a like or that you are still around when they disappear. Their ego is fulfilled when they reach out to you after months and you accepted their previous behavior and continue in a cycle of a dis-satisfactory relationship. Your ego, on the other hand, begins to take a hit to your self-esteem. Now you’re asking yourself questions like: why they reached out if they hadn’t ever planned to follow through, what’s the point of reaching out to me and why not meet up with me and finally why do I continue to attract these bullshit types?

 

Do You Really Need to Love Yourself First?

That’s the burning question many people had from my last article for the Huffington Post on self-esteem. Thanks to all who shared their stories, feedback, comments and insights. It inspired me to write this article. I know you’ve been told you need to love yourself first before you can love someone else. I disagree. Can love exist without self-love? Yes. Let me explain by asking you to ask yourself the following things:  
  1. Do you prioritize others over yourself?
  2. Do you tell yourself the truth?
  3. Do you accept the past or do you ruminate about it?
  4. Do you blame others (parents, ex-partner/spouse) for your past failures?
  5. Do you follow your gut the majority of the time?
  6. Do you carve out “me” time consistently?

Do you do any of these things and still want and find love? Of course you do. We all do. Does it stop us from loving others?

Still think you need to love yourself first? Ok, let’s look at the latest dating trend Benching. In this article, Jason Chen is writing about his experience with rejection and how common it is for people to start dating then blow them off and re-surface months later and resume dating again. So, he became a bench-warmer waiting to get picked; while the other person is dating other people. He’s wondering why he got blown off, but the person comes back and you give them a chance, right? What does this say about what people feel about themselves? Why do they allow it? Should you give people the benefit of the doubt? Sure. But, what’s the cut off? Should your ego, sense of self, or self-respect take a hit? And even when it does take a hit, don’t we still seek love? Isn’t that the opposite of loving yourself first?

What does it say about self-love? If you ask people do you love yourself, they’ll likely tell you yes.

Here’s my burning question: If you love yourself first, then what explains the faulty decision-making in relationships?

It’s not about self-love, it’s about self-awareness. I think that self-awareness PKNFYSTO4Eis one of the keys to our relationship decision-making process. When you’re self-aware and ask yourself the same above questions, you’ll find what you accept for yourself and what helps you decide on who, when, and how to love. The interesting part of self-awareness is that it becomes most challenged while you are in a relationship. 🙂 Have you ever realized that thing that s/he did that annoyed you triggered another aspect of you?

The heated you: It’s not about the toilet seat! It’s about you having no consideration for me whatsoever! 

Your inner voice: OMG! Who can’t put down a damn toilet seat?! I’m gonna be miserable the rest of my life putting up with this shit!

The over-reaction to a small thing triggered larger issues: lack of consideration and poor communication. The irony is that people become aware of the lack of self-love in relationship to others. 🙂 Self-love is cultivated over time. With each relationship we hope to get a better understanding of our needs and what we will seek out in the future. Our sense of self is challenged in each break-up because we’re trying to understand why it happened, why we allowed it to happen, or what was wrong with that person that they didn’t see the greatness in us. 🙂 Either way, we walk away wondering is this person kidding me with their bullshit behavior or was I kidding myself?

 

Top 5 ironic reasons you aren’t finding the right one

Summer’s here so people try to blame the weather for not wanting to commit (aka the break-up season). The summer isn’t the reason you can’t find the right type. The reason is simple: it’s the irony we create about love and relationships. Here are 5 examples of what holds some people back and how to change it:

  1. Some people allow one past relationship to disallow their future relationships and happiness. Re-read that statement. Does it sound like it makes sense? Doesn’t it sound paradoxical? Aren’t you looking for happiness? Aren’t you seeking out that one right person? By allowing one person to determine your future is delaying your happiness. Isn’t that counter-productive to your goal? The next time you find yourself thinking about the negative aspects of your past relationships, meditate on this mantra: Chalk it up to your ex’s inability to handle your greatness 🙂
  2. Your heart will keep seeking love, but your brain will identify patterns and stop you from seeking love. Harmonize the two by creating a list of the patterns you see. Sometimes you will find that these patterns reveal what you think you need and not what you want. Pay attention only to the aspects that you need. That part is responding to your nature and character. What you think you want is responding to your past experiences.

    Teddy Kelley photo
    Credit: Teddy Kelley
  3. You realize you took for granted someone that is gone and that becomes the very thing you want. Here the solution is simple: you’re just a dumbass. Each person we encounter makes us either realize something about ourselves or inspires us to be better people because of the nature of how they make us feel about ourselves. If you encounter someone that makes you a better person and you didn’t recognize that, ummm what’s my blog called? 🙂 Don’t fret. What is designed for you doesn’t disappear. Keep track of what you wish you still had and seek it out in someone else.
  4. You’re seeking happiness, but wind up settling. Deep down inside, when you’re settling, you know it. Sometimes people convince themselves that it is ok; other times they realize that they want more, but don’t think they can get it. In either case, why live only partially happy?
  5. The very type you don’t initially find attractive is the one you wind up with. Several studies show that when you ask successfully married people where physical attraction ranks in the scale of their relationship, initial looks ranks really low. Don’t believe me? Check out eHarmony’s take: http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating/little-physical-attraction-deal-breaker/#.V2sAaOsrIlg  Moral of the story: Stop treating people like they are your social networking streams. Focusing on the shiniest object. If you are checking them out based on their looks, chances are so are another 100 other people.

Why are men so non-committal?

Spring is near, so I’ve been getting a lot of women asking for relationship advice on non-committal men. If you ask men why they are so non-committal, why they cheat, or why they deceive their partners, the #1 answer you’ll get is boys will be boys. Doesn’t help, does it?

So, I’ve compiled a short list of things to help really get to the bottom of how to determine if your man is non-committal or commitment phobic. Aside from the usual signs, check out: Men and Relationships: 5 Signs He’ll Never Commit by SABRINA ALEXIS or or just go on Tinder. 🙂commt-yourejustadumbass

Here are some subtle cues to listen for on how to gauge if you’re in a non-committal relationship:

  1. Past relationship references. How he describes his past relationships could be a good place to start. Did he have a string of bad relationships with “crazy” women? If it was “most of them were crazy”, then he’s probably looking to blame others for his past relationship failures. Realistically, he may have deeper issues that he has to resolve that you might not be able to. Most people, especially men, loathe failure. They are designed to try to fix shit. If they couldn’t in the past and it became how they related to women, they hate taking chances. If you stick around chances are you’ll be one of those “crazy” exes.
  2. I intended on… That sounds good, doesn’t it. But, most people intend on doing a lot of things that they want, but just never get around to it. Marriage is one of them. Weight loss, exercising, you name it. If you don’t act on what you intend to do, it doesn’t happen. When men want something, they act on it. If they aren’t discussing a relationship, chances are they aren’t looking for anything committed.
  3. Fighting. Yeah, fighting. If you think there’s something better out there, you won’t try to resolve conflict. You’ll just exit out.

 

Top 3 things NOT to say on your online dating profile

People are attracted to what resonates with them. Online dating is no different. We are treating online dating as we do social media streams; the shiniest object is what grabs our attention. So, when we review profiles we are trying to get a better sense of who you are and what you say you are. If you start with a list of things you don’t want, that’s what you’re going to get.

What men say: Not looking for a gold digger.

You come off as someone who doesn’t want to build a relationship/partnership. Why? Because you’re letting past relationships control your future relationships.

What women read:  You got divorced and lost your shit. Does that mean you won’t be able to be in a dual income partnership? Are you blaming your life choices on someone else’s spending pattern? Are you unable to recognize someone that isn’t materialistic?

What men say: Drama queens need not apply. If you have an ex that is a FWB, don’t bother to contact me. If you have baby mama drama, don’t contact me.

Are you hoping to filter out drama queens by telling them not to contact you? Drama queens don’t exist if they don’t have an audience. You just set up a stage for them 🙂

What women read:  Your mailbox will be flooded with “F you just because I have a kid doesn’t mean I have drama.” Or “F you just because I have a past that you don’t understand, that doesn’t make me a drama queen.”

What men say: Don’t contact me if you’re not comfortable sexually.

Telling women they shouldn’t have standards, might not get you what you want.Leave the seduction for face-to-face.

What women read: That begs the question: “wtf is he into?” “F you because I’m not into casual sex/hookups/booty calls whenever you want sex, isn’t going to get you either a hookup or LTR.” Or “who the f are you to start with sex on your profile when you claim to be looking for something substantial.”

 

Is Tinder cheating on itself? Super Like?

CSILVAMSW_HPLTinder has been under some heat lately with the app being associated with increases in STD rates and destroying millennials dating experiences.  So, what does Tinder do? Create a new feature called Super Like. “We wanted Super Likes to be really special while making sure everyone can use them, so to start we’re giving Tinder users one Super Like to send each day. ” -Tinder blog

Yup that’s right, now you can reach out to one person a day and hope they respond to you, too. Is this Tinder’s attempt to make the site more monogamous?

In a recent HuffPostLive segment, I got to share my thoughts on Tinder’s new feature Super Like: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/why-does-tinder-have-a-new-super-like-function/521e53bbfe344436f2000120

Let’s look at it from a feature improvement point: the #1 complaint women have about Tinder is the non-relationship responses they get/the direct hook-up responses that the app is known to be. Super Like may improve the probability of getting less unwarranted communication from users.

From a female user experience point, Super Like as a feature may be an empowering one for women that know what they want. You are running probability on these sites, a distinguishing feature like “I’m not bsing on here don’t bother to contact me if it’s not similar interests” can change the script that is currently being designed in dating. {That women play a passive role and have to be reliant on men discarding them for more kinky and/or shopped photos.}

Tinder was created by the same group that created Grindr, the gay hook-up app. All it did was apply that same principle to the hetero world. Should it have changed their business model before now? Would they have laughed all the way to the bank?

By changing the behavior of the users of the app, it will change the dating experience of the users. Perhaps, women will feel less devalued and men will get more real responses. Ultimately, they will get closer to finding a relationship. What do you think? Is Tinder cheating on itself?

Want love? Stop doing dumb shit that gets you no one.

“I want tall, dark, and handsome.” So do plenty of other people. “I want barbie who can cook and clean.” Take a #. The problem with approaching online dating this way is that we’re treating profiles like we do our online social networking streams. The shiniest object is what we stop at. We should be efficient and select what we find attractive, but not where it discounts good candidates. Perception is an illusion. You know why? Because #1 person we lie to is ourselves.

We’re living in a self-absorbedie culture. Attraction is the first cut for dating. Are we trying to stand out? Yes. Do we have to go to extremes to stand out?

Let’s find out:

How many selfies do you take? How many final photos are filtered? A study found that women spend 753 hours on taking selfies and that includes filtering photos. Are these the photos that make it to an online dating profile? Yes. What’s the #1 complaint of online dating that I hear? That people don’t look like their pics! For men, posting selfies has been linked to having narcissistic traits. Not rocket science. It was also linked to self-objectification. Should men pose with tigers? WTF? [Not even lying! Check it out: TNDRGWTPhoto and article courtesy of Diamond Coleman at BuzzFeed] Is that upping sexy? Are men discounting other qualities like their accomplishments, drive, honesty, so that they could beat the guy above or below them?

Here’s what you can do:

Use an accurate photo. Men: No one wants to think they are meeting with a Brad Pitt look-a-like to find Mr Magoo showing up. Women: Most of the time we look better in real life. If the wrinkles bother you that bad, Botox not airbrush.

Online dating shouldn’t be a competition with the person above or below you. You’re looking for a specific set of qualities that compliment you. So is the person above or below you. At the end, you will get what you want and so will they.

Stop being a persona. Be you. Not the guy/girl you think women/men want to respond to. Women get too many messages from “undesirable guys” while men send hundreds of messages in order to get a response. One of the draws to online dating is efficiency. Filtering through hundreds of profiles from people who don’t fit your search criteria and spamming everyone is not efficient.

 

5 things you can do right now to change your online dating experience

1. Don’t force fit someone into your life because you are experiencing online dating fatigue. The process of several serial dates with people that you lack chemistry with or experience rejection from people that you think are potential candidates can be very frustrating and result in online dating fatigue. Where you just want to quit for awhile till you regroup. It’s totally understandable. Take a break, if you feel you need it. But, don’t let the fatigue inform who you choose.

2. Meet in real life. The point of online dating is to date, not to have a epenpal. If you haven’t gone on a date after a lengthy back and forth, cut it off. Two things are happening to you while you epenpal: 1) you are creating a false reality about who is behind the device and 2) you are delaying your own happiness by dealing with someone that isn’t on the same page.

3Screenshot 2014-11-06 at 1.56.54 PM. Diversify your dating approach. Don’t just rely on online dating as the only method of meeting someone. That will create online dating fatigue quickly. Include in your strategy both online and offline because love is a complicated process and has no formula. We can’t create the when and where. We just have to be there.

4. Approach online dating like it’s a social experiment. It really IS. Treat dating like you are collecting data on what you want and don’t want. See what combinations of qualities and characteristics better complement you. Approaching dating as though it is testing out our happiness hypothesis or algorithm can help minimize some of our own expectations. Create an equation (just like the dating sites) that includes the elements that you absolutely require (fixed variable) and the elements that you think you want (random variable). Focus just on characteristics, qualities and life desires.

5. This is the grand daddy of them all! Ready? Men, listen to me: don’t lie about your height. Women hate when you lie about inches 🙂 The reality is that men over 6’0″ in US society is about 15%. Seems like 100% online 🙂