Ego & Contemporary Dating

September 4, 2023

Chapter 22

Contemporary Dating

In the digital age, romantic relationships have evolved, taking on new dimensions fueled by technological advancements, changing societal norms and a more profound grasp of human psychology. Today, we navigate a myriad of nuanced dating behaviors some of which can be perplexing, distressing and even manipulative. Contemporary terms like “breadcrumbing,” “paperclipping” and “submarining” have emerged to describe these patterns, many of which are deeply rooted in ego-consciousness. This chapter endeavors to explore the interplay between ego-consciousness and these modern dating behaviors, delving into their emotional implications and potential links with various personality disorders. Our aim is to offer readers a comprehensive insight into the complexities of today’s dating scene, emphasizing the multitude of factors influencing it.

Modern Dating Terms Defined

Before delving deep into the spiritual and psychological intricacies of contemporary dating, it’s essential to understand the terminology. Below is a brief overview of the commonly referenced dating terms in our exploration:

Breadcrumbing: The act of sending out flirtatious but non-committal messages (breadcrumbs) to keep someone interested without offering them any substantial emotional connection. Think of it as leading someone on.

Paperclipping: A behavior where someone pops up occasionally to remind you of their existence, to ensure you don’t forget them, much like the “clippy” assistant in older versions of Microsoft Word.

Submarining: This refers to someone you’re dating who suddenly disappears without a trace like a submarine going underwater only to resurface after a considerable amount of time without any explanation.

Stashing: When someone you’re dating hides you away from their public life, including not introducing you to friends or family it’s like they’re stashing you away from the rest of their life.

Houseplanting: Similar to breadcrumbing, it refers to minimal effort given in a relationship, akin to just watering a houseplant now and then. It is the bare minimum type of interaction to keep a relationship alive.

Cookie-Jarring: This is when an individual treats someone as a backup option while they date other people. They’re not fully committed, but they don’t want the person they’re “cookie-jarring” to move on either.

Curving: It’s a rejection tactic where someone doesn’t outright say they’re not interested, but instead communicates it through their actions or lack of response effectively leading the other person on.

Benching: This refers to someone keeping another person on the sidelines, as in sports. They’re interested enough to keep the individual around but not enough to commit fully, essentially keeping them as a backup option.

Ego-Consciousness and Modern Dating Terms

Let’s dive deep into these terms and behaviors in the context of ego-consciousness and explore how the ego plays a significant role in each one.

Breadcrumbing: At its core, breadcrumbing is about seeking validation without making a genuine connection. The one who is breadcrumbing desires attention, perhaps to fulfill a void or insecurity. In spiritual terms this behavior can be attributed to an inflated ego where the need for external validation overshadows the potential for a genuine, heart-to-heart connection.

Paperclipping and Submarining: Both behaviors revolve around inconsistency and an inability to maintain a steady course in interpersonal relationships. Spiritually, this can be traced back to an unstable ego, constantly oscillating between seeking connection and fearing commitment or vulnerability.

Stashing: This behavior is rooted in fear and insecurity. The person “stashing” their partner fears judgment from others or may not be ready to fully commit. The ego here is tied to societal norms, judgments or a lack of self-worth making it hard for the individual to proudly present their romantic choice to the world.

Curving: The act of curving is about avoidance. Rather than face potential conflict or uncomfortable situations the individual chooses ambiguity. Here, the ego is tied to fear, fear of confrontation, rejection or responsibility.

Cookie-jarring and Houseplanting: Both behaviors can be seen as a form of emotional hedging. It’s the ego trying to ensure it’s not left wanting or vulnerable. It’s a backup plan to ensure the self always has an option and in turn, a boost of self-esteem.

Benching: This is about keeping options open. The person doing the benching, driven by ego desires to have fallbacks ensuring they aren’t left alone or feeling rejected. It reflects a lack of commitment and a desire to always have a feeling of control.

In all these behaviors the ego is seeking protection, validation, control or a combination of these. The ego is a barrier to genuine connection and operates from a place of fear, pride or insecurity. When individuals act out of ego, they’re not being their authentic selves but are instead protecting a constructed identity.

For those on the receiving end of these behaviors it can be a deeply unsettling and hurtful experience, however understanding the role of the ego can provide some clarity. Recognizing these behaviors as manifestations of ego-driven motivations allows for a clearer understanding of the dynamics at play. Instead of taking it personally, the hurt individual can see it as a reflection of the other person’s internal struggles and insecurities.

Ego-Consciousness and Emotional Abuse in Contemporary Dating

In the context of modern dating behaviors, the ego can manifest as manipulative and harmful actions, alluding to emotional neglect and even abuse.

Emotional neglect stands as a silent saboteur in relationships. Often not as overt as emotional or physical abuse it involves the deprivation of emotional attention and support resulting in feelings of isolation, low self-worth and emotional distress which can further spiral into chronic mental health challenges including depression and anxiety. One might argue that emotional neglect is the direct consequence of ego-consciousness where one partner prioritizes their needs and desires over those of their partner.

Breadcrumbing, for instance can be seen as a manifestation of this ego-driven behavior. The one leaving the breadcrumbs enjoys the attention and validation without any intention of a genuine connection, keeping the other person in a perpetual state of hope and confusion. Similarly, stashing, where one partner hides the other from their social sphere could be a reflection of ego-consciousness. The stasher might do so to keep options open or out of a fear of commitment, while neglecting the emotional needs and dignity of the person they are with.

Submarining and paperclipping although nuanced in their actions revolve around the theme of in-and-out behaviors. Both behaviors can be perceived as the individual’s ego-consciousness driving them to prioritize their needs for attention and validation without considering the emotional ramifications on the other party. In spiritual terms, this detachment from understanding and empathy suggests a deep immersion in ego and a disconnect from the collective consciousness of compassion and respect.

Behaviors like cookie-jarring and houseplanting further underscore this ego-driven dynamic. Keeping someone as a backup, either while in a committed relationship or not, exemplifies an ego’s desire for safety, validation and control often at the emotional expense of the other individual.

As these behaviors indicate there’s a recurring pattern of ego-centric actions that can lead to emotional neglect and potential abuse. It is essential to not just recognize but also understand them in their spiritual context. Such an understanding can empower individuals to navigate their relationships with greater clarity, compassion and self-awareness.

To mitigate the potential harm from these behaviors, open communication remains the key. Addressing actions rooted in ego-consciousness helps in shining light on behaviors that may otherwise remain in the shadow. For instance, if one experiences behaviors like submarining or paperclipping, addressing them directly can lead to clearer boundaries and mutual understanding.

In the evolving landscape of modern relationships, the alignment of spiritual growth and dating behaviors becomes imperative for meaningful and connected relationships. As the ego is recognized and understood, individuals can work towards relationships that reflect empathy, respect and genuine connection.

The Intersection of Modern Dating Behaviors and Personality Disorders

A deeper dive into these behaviors reveals possible associations with various personality disorders. It’s essential to note that exhibiting these behaviors does not guarantee someone has a personality disorder. Understanding the possible connections can be enlightening for those navigating the complex world of modern dating.


Potential Associated Disorders: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder

Individuals with NPD often seek constant validation and attention, using tactics that string someone along without committing. HPD may also exhibit this behavior, craving attention and using dramatic or seductive actions to get it.


Potential Associated Disorders: Avoidant Attachment, Dissociative Identity Disorder

Those with Avoidant Attachment may find it challenging to fully integrate their partners into their lives, fearing closeness or dependence. DID, marked by distinct multiple identities may lead to “stashing” if one identity engages in a relationship without the others’ awareness.


Potential Associated Disorders: Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder

These behaviors reflect inconsistency and an unstable approach to relationships. BPD is characterized by unstable relationships and those with the disorder may engage in behaviors where they disappear and reappear unpredictably. HPD due to its attention-seeking nature might result in someone popping back into a person’s life when they feel ignored or neglected.


Potential Associated Disorders: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder

Keeping someone as a backup reflects a lack of empathy and disregard for others’ feelings, NPD and ASPD both involve reduced empathy. Those with ASPD might engage in manipulative behaviors without remorse, while individuals with NPD might keep someone on the side to ensure a constant supply of validation.


Potential Associated Disorders: Avoidant Attachment, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Neglecting a partner’s emotional needs out of fear of intimacy can align with Avoidant Attachment. On the other hand, those with OCPD might be overly focused on work and productivity, leading to the unintentional neglect of a partner’s emotional needs.

It’s crucial to avoid broad generalizations and remember that behaviors in dating can be influenced by various factors including past traumas, cultural influences and individual differences. However, understanding the connection between modern dating behaviors and personality disorders offers a nuanced perspective on contemporary relationships.

It’s also important to acknowledge that having a personality disorder does not necessarily make one toxic or un-dateable. Awareness, therapy and effective communication can help individuals navigate relationships healthily regardless of any diagnosis.

In the intricate world of modern relationships, merely grasping contemporary dating terminologies isn’t enough. Behind each coined term and behavior is a deep tapestry of psychological implications, from the pull of ego-consciousness to potential emotional ramifications and intersections with diagnosed personality disorders. To navigate this landscape effectively it’s imperative to approach dating with both self-awareness and empathy. Recognizing when our ego takes precedence and understanding the intricate interplay of past experiences, psychological predispositions and present circumstances can offer profound insights into dating behaviors. Equipped with this understanding, individuals can transcend ego-driven desires in favor of authentic connections, making the world of modern dating more transparent and nurturing. By fostering open dialogue and promoting understanding we open doors for healthier, more fulfilling relationships that not only recognize but also respect the complexities of human psychology.