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21st Century dating trends: Catfishes, ghosts, and mermaids, Oh My!

Updated on July 19, 2016

Dating Trends: Catfish, Ghosting, and Mermaids

In the 1990's, the "Sex and the City" ladies were always moaning about the lowest of the low form of daters, the kind that left Post-It Notes and doormen with some really bad relationship karma on their hands. Today the world of dating has changed so much that men bearing a Post-It note look to some, like a knight in shining armor.

Decent humanity seems to be a lost art in dating, so much so that bad behavior has almost become the norm. But it doesn't have to be when you know how to spot the red flags and follow that ever present instinct. What are the latest trends in dating that today's savvy single girl needs to be aware of?

1. The Catfish. Before the name Manti Te'o became a household name, catfish was something you either ordered out, or brought home with Dad or Grandpa on occasion. Today the term catfish is used to refer to a person who pretends to be someone that they are not online. The Boston Globe reported the origin of this current dating trend as the 'name of a 2010 documentary about an online romance that turned out to be predicated on a fictitious identity.'"

Some catfish relationships today have extended as far as the drama of Manti Te'o's, and some even farther than that. Others end quickly as soon as the partner being lied to wises up to their instinct that is screaming at them. Instinct will be key in situations like this, if something smells fishy, there's a reason for that. Keep expectations low in the online dating world until you have established some in-person experiences to support all of these fun new feelings you have about someone.

2. Ghosting. It is a term coined by in 2011 to answer the age old question, "why doesn't he call?". It refers to the man or woman that fades to black from your relationship because they don't have the cahonas to have that "awkward conversation" and exit your experience with them with the grace and the dignity that you deserve. This is the guy who stops texting or emailing without explanation, or the girl who doesn't return your call. describes this dating trend as an "unexplainable college dating phenomenon", but many daters today could provide enough anecdotal evidence to support the notion that this trend is unfortunately an all too familiar concept occurring across all demographics.

This to some is even considered worse than the Post It Note generation, because the person who was "ghosted" is left with so many questions. The only treatment to this experience is to take comfort in the fact that people that behave in this manner do not lose those shining personality traits overnight, just because they ghosted you. The only two words you need of closure in those situations then is, "bullet dodged".

3. The Mermaid Theory. The only known reference to this phenomenon in this term is from the eleventh episode of the sixth season of the CBS show How I Met Your Mother. The Mermaid Theory refers to a theory where a man will essentially want to sleep with any woman after a period of time of knowing her, no matter how repugnant he may have once thought that idea was. He also does so under the presumption that this is with no strings attached.

As Barney described it to Marshall, after long periods of time at sea, the longer a period that sailors spent with manatees, the more the manatees became attractive and looked like a mermaid in the eyes of the sailor….until the sailor returned to his home port. Eventually they would sleep together and it would be disastrous, mostly for the mermaid in question. Although Marshall and Barney did argue somewhat as to whether or not "The Mermaid Theory" was an actual thing, in today's circles it can loosely be identified as the Unidentified Friends With Benefits. You're his friend, he's yours, and one night you two end up sleeping together without having that "Awkward Conversation" on where this could end up. Communication is always the best option to avoid…..

These are just a few of the 21st century dating trends all over the world. Dating can be fun for today's security savvy single, so long as you are well armed with what's really out there right now. Beware of the catfish in sheep's clothing, the insecure ghost, and the lonely sailor just looking for a mermaid to leave ashore when he moves to his next port.


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