It seems like there are so many different ways of playing dating games out there that it can be hard to keep track of what new way we're getting blown off now. For a while, everyone was all a-flutter about ghosting, but then suddenly there was haunting. "Haunting is a passive behavior in which your ex creeps on your social media accounts and engages just enough for you to know he or she is there, so it’s not quite lurking, which is total stealth mode," Samantha Burns, couples counselor and dating coach at Love Successfully, tells Bustle. "It’s natural human behavior to think about, reminisce and wonder what your ex is up to, whether it’s because you’re sad, jealous, curious if [they've] moved on, miss [them], or are just plain bored."
And it doesn't end there. Breadcrumbing, benching, zombieing — there are so many different games people play. It's hard enough to know what game they're playing, but what's even harder is figuring out how to deal with it. Luckily, there are a few different ways that you can handle these games, according to the experts. But one thing is for sure — you do not have to put up with being messed around. Not only is it behavior that you shouldn't stand for, it's often indicative behavior of someone you probably don't want to date.
So here's how to do handle it, because going along with these games is not an option for grown-ass women:
What It Is: The person who always says they want to meet up but then flakes — yet stays just present enough by sending the occasional message and checking in to drive you crazy. They're leaving you little breadcrumbs, but they lead to nowhere.
How To Fight It: You don't need to stick around for this. "If you met someone online who talks about getting together, yet when you suggest that you find a mutually acceptable time and place to meet in person they are never available, RUN," As Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, psychotherapist and relationship coach tells Bustle. "You can only be breadcrumbed if you go along with it." And it's not just true for breadcrumbing, it's a good way to get away from anyone who's playing games.
2Refusing To Discuss Where It's Going
What It Is: This one is pretty straight forward — someone you've seeing won't have a conversation about what you both want (think of it as a precursor to DTR). Now if they don't want a serious thing, that's their choice, but they should not be stringing you along if that's what you want.
How To Fight It: Don't worry about looking clingy or needy — women way too often get pigeonholed as such. Instead, just think of it as being direct. "My approach with my clients who are on the dating scene is always to encourage them to be direct and upfront as much as possible, right from the start," Dr. Jennelle, a PhD psychologist and relationship advisor tells Bustle. "People often feel nervous to put their needs and wants out on the table or ask the hard questions..." But sometimes, you have to. Be direct about what you want — and the fact that you won't be messed around with. If they won't give it to you, someone else will.
What It Is: Benching is, well, when someone has you on the bench. Basically, they're with someone or dating around but they're still texting or seeing you occasion just to make sure you're still available if they change their mind.
How To Fight It: It's not cool. If they're with someone, you should just break it off immediately because they're not being respectful and you don't want to be a jerk. But what if they're just playing the field?
A good way to deal is to pass them the ball and see what they do with it. Trying saying something like, "Hey, I'm not sure if you're really busy right now or just not interested, but I'm not really up for all of this flaking. I'm going to tap out for a while, but get in touch when you have more time." It works better than you think. It's not dramatic — and often the honesty is actually really appreciated.
4Playing Hot & Cold
What It Is: Probably the oldest dating game in the book. One day they're all about you and texting you every two minutes, then they don't reply for a week.
How To Fight It: Sometimes you just need to call them out on the carpet. Hot and cold is definitely one of those times. Just ask them why they keep changing their attitude. Be calm, use examples, and don't let them evade. It's great for hot and cold — but really, with any kind of game playing, just calling a spade a spade can make a huge difference.
What It Is: You thought they were out of your life — but here they are again! Up to their old tricks and with enough emotional baggage to sink a damn ship.
How To Fight It: It may sound extreme, but the problem with haunters or zombies is that even if you call them out once, they may very well pop up again. So you may need to delete, unfollow, or even block them to make sure that they can't get up to their old tricks. This way you don't need to worry about them sweeping back in and interfering with your life every few months.
What It Is: They just keep canceling and rescheduling. You actually meet up just enough that you think they're interested, but you can't really be sure, because the next time they cancel.
How To Fight It: Firstly, know your limits. If they're genuinely a really busy person, you may need to accept that they bail occasionally, so decide for yourself whether or not you're OK with that. But if it seems like they're just flakey with no good reason, you may want to explain that you're not up for that and give them a chance to fix it. If they don't, wave it goodbye. You don't need someone who can't respect your time.
What It Is: They just straight up go blank and ignore you. At first you think they may just be busy, but then they really disappear.
How To Fight It: This is never OK. People literally sleep with their phones in their hands. If they like you and are a decent person, they can message back. Time to cut the dead weight.
Dating games are exhausting — and just not something you need to put up with. No matter how you want to deal with it, just make sure you're doing what's best for you.