BANuary Is The Perfect Time To Set Some Ground Rules In Your Dating Life
But with weekly influx of unsolicited d**k pics, mansplaining and controlling narcissists (shout out to the bloke who wouldn't pay for a friend's dinner unless she ate all her vegetables) it can sometimes feel like a hell of a lot more.
Although toe-curling stories of cringey chat-up lines, creepy behaviour ("I've named my kitten after you") and height-related miscommunications can make for a good story, they are oh so tiresome for the single lady.
And while d**k pics were around long before Tinder (I've personally received several), recent figures commissioned by Sky suggest that the shady underside of digital dating has grown even darker with dating-related crimes skyrocketing. Frankly, it's no surprise that 80 per cent of women feel deterred from using dating apps.
With that in mind, enter BANuary; think of it as a much-needed dating detox.
This month, we're banishing all the time-wasting, draining and creepy behaviour we experience online with the help of two dating experts. Here's your definitive guide to navigating BANuary.
Avoid 'oversensitive' Jekyll and Hyde daters
In everyday life, a Jekyll-and-Hyde character is one who catcalls you in the street, before mouthing a load of abuse if you don't wave, smile or respond in a way that's pleasing to him.
It's exactly the same online, but the only difference is he's behind a screen (cue remarks of a far more abusive and aggressive nature). In other words, he seems nice enough until you do something he doesn't like... and then he'll flip.
London dating coach Hayley Quinn explains why it's so important to look out for those who have a 'disproportionate reaction'.
"Be cautious of those who become aggressive," she advises. "Someone who is oversensitive or gives disproportionate reactions can be a red flag. This often happens if you decide actually, you don't want to meet up with them."
Steer clear of people who lie in their bio
Hands up if you've ever seen a cute puppy in the street and immediately gone over to say hello? *Raises hand*.
Well, there's a new form of deceit on the horizon - men who pose with cute animals in their profile pics just to make a match. We're talking kittens, puppies, and in some cases, piglets.
Gillian Myhill, founder of new dating app BARE, says that there's actually a psychology behind this - and it sounds terrifying.
"It can be a dog, a kitten or even a baby," Gillian explained. "Women who see the photo will subconsciously think the man will be a good parent - that's the psychology behind it."
Gillian says there are a number of red flags to look out for when trying to spot a fibber.
"Beware of anyone who refuses to use WhatsApp, or refuses to show you a picture, or if they're not very consistent in messaging back," she explains.
Hayley adds: "They should be open about their social media, talk about their friends, invite you to stuff as a group with their mates - you want someone who is giving you lots of openness with their life."
Avoid intense, early-relationship behaviour
It can be *so* easy to get wrapped up in a new partner, but sometimes the 'honeymoon period' isn't so sweet. Hayley explains that while it's important to steer clear of someone who's cagey and inconsistent, a match who's very intense at the start of a relationship should be avoided.
"It might sound romantic to want to see you every day but really, they should be more respectful of your time. Some people might interpret it as romantic, but it might not be that at all. It might be someone who doesn't respect you have a life and feels entitled to spend lots of time with you.
"This narcissistic behaviour can often lead to 'love bombing' [a type of manipulation characterised by OTT affection. It's particularly concerning because the love bomber will eventually switch, becoming manipulative and often abusive]."
Hayley recommends seeing them once a week and giving yourself three windows in your day in which you can respond to messages.
Be alert for controlling and coercive red flags
It can be extremely difficult to detect controlling behaviour, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Gillian reminds us to be alert to the subtle signs.
Specific alarm bells to look out for include certain behaviours around money.
Hayley explains: "Someone who makes a decision for you - for example, the waiter asks 'would you like a drink?' and they say 'we're fine thanks', or 'we're paying', 'we're splitting the bill' - basically someone who doesn't consult or seek your opinion is a red flag.
"Also be aware of how someone reacts to a no. An example of this would be if they ask to see you and you say you're seeing your friends. If they respond with 'how about I meet you after your friends? or 'how about I meet your friends?' - this is concerning because they're not listening to your feedback."
Be more open-minded, but don't be afraid of letting someone down
We've all felt that initial connection with someone online, only to end up being cat-fished after meeting up in real life. What happened to their witty chat and charm?
"Sometimes people are shy," Gillian explains. "Try to be open and try not to be too judgmental, we're all nervous and sometimes it takes a little bit of time. You're letting them into your personal space for some people it's not so easy."
That said, if you're not feeling the date, or the person, don't continue out of politeness. In fact, while chatting to our dating experts, there was one piece of advice that seemed to resound throughout.
Hands up if you've ever avoided telling someone you're not feeling it because you don't want to hurt their feelings? Or, you want to avoid an awkward situ? *Raises hand*.
"Looking at our own behaviour, 'I'm just not feeling it and I wish you the very best' is such a simple statement, but so many of us shy away from it," said Gillian.
With that in mind, perhaps there's room for all of us to work on our dating etiquette. Note to self: Don't judge a book by its cover - but if he's posing with a sausage dog? We'll be needing proof of ownership.
Here's to 2020 - and being *far* less active on the 'dating woes' WhatsApp chat...
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash