Feeling Trapped Inside a Web of Lies in Your Relationship? There's a Name for That

Spider-webbing is a new dating trend that combines the worst of all the others. Read on to learn how to spot the signs before you get entangled.

Kelly Corbett - Author

Oct. 30 2023, Published 11:31 a.m. ET

Teen couple of teenagers hugging during outdoor date
Source: getty images

The Gist:

  • Spider-webbing is a dating trend that combines various manipulation tactics to entangle partners in a web of deceit.
  • It began gaining traction in October 2023.
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Dating can be tough these days. Sometimes I wonder if the folks who go on Married at First Sight might be onto something. With dating trends like wokefishing (pretending to be socially conscious to attract potential partners) and pocketing (having a partner but keeping part of your life closed off from them), it's hard to know if you're actually dating someone genuine.

But the spider webbing dating trend may be the worst of all. It's a combination of the worst dating trends already in existence, and it started gaining traction in October 2023.

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What is the spider-webbing dating trend?

Spider-webbing is a dating trend that first emerged in October 2023, which is very fitting given that it's scarier than most Halloween movies.

Basically, spider-webbing is when a person uses a complex web of manipulative behaviors to control and entangle their partner. This may include love bombing, gaslighting, breadcrumbing, and therapy baiting their partner simultaneously.

garden spider spinning a web
Source: getty images
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Emma Hathorn, a dating expert at luxury dating site Seeking, told Metro “‘It can be challenging to spot these behaviors because they are often subtle and gradually escalate over time.”

She tells the outlet that love bombing, or when a person showers their partner with excessive affection and attention early on in the relationship, usually comes first.

‘If someone showers you with excessive compliments, gifts, or declarations of love very early on in the relationship and then suddenly stops that attention – they may be manipulating you,’ explains Emma.

Emma notes that it’s important to stay on top of your partner’s behavior, in case they are breadcrumbing you. Breadcrumbing occurs when a person shows their partner small acts of affection or attention, but never enough to fully satisfy them.

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Next comes gaslighting. "They might deny things they said or did, or lead you to believe you’re being irrational and to question your reality," Emma added.

She also discussed therapy baiting, or when a person uses the fact that they are in therapy or have mental health issues as a way to be manipulative. For example, they may act like they are an expert on relationships and behaviors since they are in therapy and then try to belittle their partner's thoughts.

Emma notes that sometimes these behaviors are unintentional and can be worked out. But if not, it's best to separate yourself from this partner early on to avoid major heartbreak down the road.

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