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'Pulling a pig' isn't the only cruel dating stunt doing the rounds

Here are the toxic dating trends that make swiping right a seriously risky pastime

Tomasz Frymorgen

No one wants to get pigged. The name is bad enough, but the practice itself is just disturbing.

Pigging is a ‘game’ that some guys apparently play where they try to hook up with the least attractive girl they can dupe on a night out.

Yeah, we don’t think it's funny either. But it’s been a fringe dating trend for a number of years, with media reports on the phenomenon dating back to 2013.

In October, when a young British woman claimed to have fallen victim to the 'pull a pig' prank, the internet was set alight with outrage.

Sophie Stevenson, 24, alleged that she'd had a “holiday romance” in Barcelona during the summer with Dutchman Jesse Mateman, 21. Sophie claims they stayed in touch after the holiday, and she ended up spending £350 to meet him in the Netherlands in late September. Sophie alleges that she was stood up at the airport, and that Jesse sent her a text message saying she’d 'been pigged' - the whole thing was a ‘joke'.

Jesse denies the prank and threatened legal action against her for damages suffered as a result of the media fallout over the story.

Regardless of what did or did not happen in Amsterdam, this sorry tale spotlights some of the more toxic dating trends doing the rounds right now.


CatfishCatfish Picture Company
Catfish (2010)

This is where someone creates a fake persona using social media and dating profiles. It can involve using pictures of other people, often without their consent. Or it can mean lying about everything from what you do for a living to your personal history.

These false identities are used to build online romances, some of which can last for years. The phenomenon was first identified in the 2010 film Catfish by Nev Schulman, after he found out that the young woman he thought he’d been developing a relationship with through Facebook turned out to be a married, middle-aged mum who was maintaining an entirely false profile.

The feelings of loss and betrayal can be crushing when a victim of catfishing realises what’s been going on. Nev Schulman came up with the metaphor of the 'catfish', which used to be shipped along with live cod to keep them active.

The reasons why people engage in this can include power-play, dissatisfaction with their own lives, or even outright fraud.



If you’re getting benched then you are someone’s back-up - the person they come crawling back to when their first choice doesn’t come through.

The bencher will keep you sweet with messages and the occasional meet-up. But it never leads anywhere.

Benchers may engage in this type of behaviour because they’re unwilling to commit to someone, or because they like the ego boost, or just because they’re scared of ending up alone.

But for those on the receiving end, it’s frustrating, confusing and sometimes anxiety-inducing. You’re stuck in the dugout, keeping the bench warm, watching everyone else playing midfield.


Stashing away

Falling victim to this treatment means you’ll be hidden away, like an unwanted Christmas present, or a guilty chocolate indulgence.

Stashing occurs at the point in a relationship where you think things are going pretty steady. Your partner will have met your friends, they’ll be in your social media accounts as your SO, and things will feel pretty official.

Then it dawns on you that you’ve never met any of their friends. You might realise they always stay at yours and you’ve never actually been to their place. And there’s no trace of you on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

This probably means you’re not the only person the stasher is seeing.

Because as long as they never indicate – either to others, or themselves — that you’re their partner, they can get away with dating other people too.

Ghosting, Zombieing and Submarining

The mother of all horrible dating fads. Ghosting is when someone goes from being in a romantic relationship with a person – dating, seeing them —  to cutting off all contact without warning.

Phone calls ring out, text messages grow old without being responded to, and your social media profiles are unfollowed or, worse, blocked.

Ghosters ghost for a number of reasons including laziness, insensitivity and gutlessness; a surprising number of people lack the courage to explicitly end a relationship.

The term has been in use since the early 2010s and has spawned a number of offshoots. These include zombieing, where a ghoster gets back in touch after weeks or months of silence, offering a lame excuse for going dead on you. Or submarining – which is like zombieing, but where someone resurfaces from the depths and feels no need to give any excuse at all. They just pick up where they left off as if nothing had ever happened.

With one 800-person survey by dating site Plenty of Fish suggesting that almost 80% of single millennials have suffered from some form of ghosting, it’s safe to say that bad dating behaviour is haunting our generation.

Originally published 11 October 2017.