Language is constantly evolving to be able to express the new ways we find ourselves in an ever changing world. Years ago we had no idea that "bae" would be such a part of our vocabulary or that "fire" could mean "good" if said in the right context. We also were naive to the many words we’d come to have in our arsenal to describe someone who doesn’t like you very much. What used to be a stricter binary between dating and not dating has turned into a spectrum of "ghosting" to "breadcrumbing" to "talking" to "being involved." What do all of these terms mean? Are they happening to you? Or worse, are you doing them to someone else?
Ghosting is Bad Dating Etiquette Classic™ and likely the term you’re most familiar with. What is it exactly? You’ve gone a few nice dates with someone that by all accounts are going well, if not very well, when all of a sudden they disappear. They didn’t type "brb", there was no mention of them not paying their phone bill and having no ability to contact you. They just vanished into thin air. You can only assume they peacefully passed away. In such a case, you are allowed to actually check your local obituaries.
Submarining is the follow up to ghosting should the ghoster re-animate themselves. Spooky! Like a sea vessel resurfacing from the depths of the ocean, someone who submarines reappears in your life out of nowhere. They simply bob back in as if they were never gone, as if they don’t know the secrets of the ocean’s floors.
Like the name suggests, breadcrumbing is someone who leaves you just hungry enough for a more satiating bite. When someone is breadcrumbing you they’re leaving just enough nibbles to whet your appetite but not providing you with any real nourishment. A text here, a flirty DM there. It’s enough to keep you following their trail but beware. When Hansel and Gretel did that they were led to the witch’s den.
This is yet another follow up to the ghosting trend, but the person has not fully come back to life like they do when they submarine you. After radio silence from them because, you know, they’ve metaphorically died and turned into a ghost, you notice that they’re watching your Snaps or Insta stories. They may even boldly like a status of yours or worse, like a comment on your status. They are still dead but their presence lingers.
This is a new term where one party keeps in close proximity to the other without fully touching down in any substantive way. They maintain a presence in your atmosphere. They might send signals that they’re into you but they’re vague enough you’re not placing too much meaning on it. But they’re at every party you attend. They like enough of your online posts that you know they’re at least intrigued. It’s too much to be coincidence, yet like all space matter there’s nothing to physically grasp onto. Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to land.
Buoying is the more extreme version of breadcrumbing. Whereas breadcrumbing is lots of little signals, the buoy is one big deed or event that would make you think the person is into you. Maybe they helped you move one weekend or wrote you a gushing 3 AM email (what is this? The Notebook?) but since then it’s been back to the zone de friends. But you have that one memory and you hold onto it like a buoy in the turbulent waves of crushing on people in 2018. Despite no other evidence, this keeps your hope afloat.