What are we looking for when it comes to all things love and lust? Are we a nation in need of sweethearts or brief encounters?
While we’re all very aware that there’s a never-ending list of dating trends – ahem, cushioning, zombieing and sneating – apparently it’s a common theme when it comes to the most Googled sex and relationship questions of the last year.
Many of us were trying to work out what ghosting, breadcrumbing and gaslighting are all about, whereas others were wondering if it’s okay to date a colleague.
Civilised Health analysed Google trend data to find out exactly what we were asking last year when it came to sex and relationships with qualified health and relationship specialist Claudia Brooker, presenting her professional advice.
Question 1: What is ghosting?
Ah, the most traditional of all modern dating trends – and yet we still don’t quite know how to tell if we’ve been ghosted. According to the data, the question has received a 421% rise in Google searches in the last year alone.
‘In terms of dating, ghosting is the practice of one person ending a relationship by unexpectedly withdrawing from all methods of communication,’ says Brooker.
‘They do not reply to messages or answer calls in order to disappear from a situation. In my opinion, dating apps have contributed to a rise in ghosting as users tend to adopt a ‘churn and burn’ mentality. They assume that the victim of ghosting will not dwell for too long as they will soon be talking to someone else. Even people who consider themselves to be a part of an exclusive relationship can be a victim of ghosting.
‘In my experience, the person who tends to do the ghosting does so because they are fearful of confrontation and have an overriding sense of guilt that leads them to avoid formally terminating a relationship.
‘If you are a victim of ghosting, temptation to ‘fill the gaps’ and let your imagination run away with you can surpass rationality. Victims often blame themselves and replay certain scenarios over and over in order to determine what they should have done differently. Often, the victim strives to find out why the situation has taken this course and a lack of closure can be incredibly confusing.
‘My advice to anyone that has been ghosted is to remember that ghosting is often indicative of a person needing to work on themselves in order to heal old wounds as they are now void of showcasing their vulnerability. Therefore, the situation is rarely a reflection on you, it should effect your personal wellbeing.’
Question two: Sex on a first date?
Outdated ideas about the ‘right time’ to sleep with someone new are still going strong. While it’s completely up to you if you want to sleep with someone on the first, second, fifth, tenth or twentieth date, the term has seen a 313% rise in searches online.
‘The prospect of sex on the first date often sparks a minefield of opinions and overthinking. To put it simply, having sex on the first date does not reflect your entitlement to an exclusive relationship and there should certainly be no sense of shame whatsoever,’ says Brooker.
‘However, the consistent rise in Google searches signals that the debate (however outdated) is set to continue. Like most things, deciding whether sex on the first date is the right thing to do is prescriptive to each situation and should only ever come into fruition if both parties are on the same page and feelings are communicated honestly and effectively.’
Question three: Dating a colleague – yes or no…?
Inevitable or avoidable? While office sex has some very real consequences, it seems that many of us were asking whether or not to date within the workplace in 2019 with searches rising 281%.
‘I have seen some successful romances stem from the workplace. However, I have also witnessed some horror stories,’ reveals Brooker.
‘I am not surprised that the UK’s workforce turns to Google in order to establish whether an office romance is a good idea. For obvious reasons, participants are hesitant to mention it to their other colleagues and friends can be very opinionated.
‘As a relationship expert, questions surrounding office romances is one of the most common queries I receive (along with one-night stands). For every client, no matter what industry they work in, I always present three golden rules:
- Check your contract – it always amazes me how many people do not know the details of their contract. Some contracts prohibit relationships with co-workers, superiors and even clients. Before you pursue a relationship, READ YOUR CONTRACT
- Think the worst – when the dopamine is flowing and the honeymoon period is in full swing, it can be difficult to think the worst. However, be realistic and analyse what will happen if the romance does not pan out the way you thought it would. Always take feelings into account and decide whether the relationship is worth risking your role within the workplace
- If your romantic interest is not single, do not pursue – workplaces can replicate that of ‘holiday mode’ if someone is unhappy in their home life. If your colleague is not single, then steer away from getting romantically involved with them. This rarely ends well and often impacts your work
Question four: What is bread crumbing?
That’s right – another dating trend. Yay. So what is breadcrumbing, the term that has seen a whopping 333% rise in searches?
‘Breadcrumbing is not a new phenomenon and chances are, everyone has done it at some point,’ Brooker says.
‘It is essentially leading someone on by sending them sporadic messages and/or commenting on social media posts in such a way that interest continues. However, it is non-committal and vague.
‘The messages and social media engagement act as the breadcrumbs. There is endless reasons as to why people do it. Some want to divert their attention away from a painful breakup, others want to feed their ego, and some (woefully) just want to kill boredom.
‘If you are romantically engaging with someone that is not an evolution of a friendship, I recommend a 3-message rule.
‘After 3 separate occasions where a dedicated conversation has taken place, if no mention of meeting up has occurred then limit your emotional investment immediately. This can be considered harsh however, it encourages realism and clarity.’
Question five: What is gaslighting?
Finally, we’ve been interested to know more about gaslighting. Over to the expert…
‘The term gaslighting is coined from the film Gaslight where a manipulative husband convinces his wife to constantly question her thoughts, actions and memories in order to control her,’ Brooker says.
‘It has received a 416% rise in Google searches, and I feel that it is important to state that its occurrence is not just confined to romantic relationships and can occur in friendships, families and even workplaces.
‘The rise in searches indicates that people are educating themselves on what happens within toxic relationships and suggests conversation around this is increasing. Education is key and I encourage everyone, regardless of if they are a victim or not, to keep the conversation going in order to eliminate toxic behaviour and present a safe environment for victims to have a choice.’