Are you feeling like you might have been strung along? You may have been cookie-jarred.
Dating trends are a wonderful way to spot problematic patterns of behaviour in the dating world. There’s ghosting, a term that describes when someone disappears without any warning. There’s groundhogging, where you fall into a pattern of picking the same type over and over again. And now there’s a new trend to look out for: cookie-jarring.
Picture this: you begin dating someone new. Everything seems to be on the right track. You share common interests and values. And best of all, your new partner is giving you all the signs that your new romance is on its way to becoming a committed relationship. But then, out of nowhere, they end things and it turns out they were seeing someone else all along.
To find out more about this concerning trend, we spoke with Michelle Begy, founder and manager of Ignite Dating.
What exactly is cookie jarring?
“Cookie-jarring is a toxic dating trend that refers to the fact that the person you’ve been dating has no intention of settling down with you,” Begy explains. “Instead, they string you along in order to have a back-up plan as they pursue other people. You become a cookie in their jar, which they can dip into whenever they feel like it.”
This brutal, selfish dating habit allows the other person to “keep their options open” while they essentially experiment with you as a potential partner even though a long-term relationship was, as Begy puts it, “never their plan”.
Are you being cookie-jarred? It’s not always easy to tell
Cooking jarring is one dating trend that’s especially hard to spot. After all, with many cases of cookie jarring, the person you are dating is probably telling you everything you want to hear. “The person doing the cookie-jarring is keen that you don’t cotton on that you’re just one of many of their options and will try their hardest to keep it that way,” says Begy. Often, this happens because it can be a “big ego boost” for them to have several people interested in them at the same time.
So, if cookie-jarring is based on well-told lies or half-truths, how can you spot it before you become emotionally invested?
“It can be hard to know you are being kept in somebody’s cookie jar, so it pays to watch out for the signs,” she says.
Typical signs are when the person you are dating comes across as really keen but then disappears from your life for days or weeks at a time. Alternatively, they may avoid making plans to see you in advance, always preferring last-minute arrangements. You might also feel insecure about them or have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right.
What should you do if you suspect you’re being cookie jarred?
It can be difficult to muster the courage to bring up your worries about cookie-jarring with your significant other – after all, there’s always a chance that you’ve misread the signs. Plus, it also means being vulnerable with the person you’ve recently started dating. However, it’s important to take action before your fears become too exhausting.
“Nobody likes to feel like they are second best,” says Begy. “It can be exhausting to try to second-guess what is happening with your relationship status, so if you have witnessed the above signs and have that gut feeling, it’s best to tackle the situation head-on.”
Begin by being upfront. Ask your new partner if they’re ready to be exclusive. “Their reaction should tell you a lot,” Begy says. “If they are vague or non-committal, it may well suggest their heart is elsewhere and they are just hedging their bets with you.”
You can also try to start a conversation about your feelings. “Don’t be afraid to outright ask somebody if they are seeing anybody else,” Begy suggests. “An open and honest conversation may not yield the answers you want, but it’ll help you know whether it’s time to move on and concentrate on somebody who is open to commitment and interested in getting to know each other on equal terms, increasing your chances of finding that long-term, committed relationship you’ve been searching for.”