Dating and Relationship Advice

It can be annoying when your relationship trouble becomes a trendy buzzword. No one needs a reminder of the time they were ghosted, love bombed, or wokefished, and hearing about it constantly feels unpleasant.

A few years ago, a guy "submarined" me. At the time, I didn't know that it was called submarining. But upon finding out there was a word to describe my experience, I encountered a whole new feeling: validation. I realized I wasn’t alone in what I dealt with, and that relationship experts could explain what was happening and help me feel better about myself.

“Submarining,”—also referred to as“paperclipping”—is when someone randomly messages you after ghosting you first. They pretend like nothing happened even though they previously acted like they weren't interested. The name comes from the fact that a person disappears underwater for a while before coming back up again. They don’t apologize or acknowledge that they haven’t spoken to you. They may also ask you to hang out and flirt with you like they did at the beginning of your fling.

Let me illustrate what this can look like by sharing what happened to me. I met a guy on a dating site and hung out with him once when we were in the same area. We texted frequently for the next month and were both clearly interested in each other. In my opinion, we were the perfect fit. But then, on Valentine’s Day of all days, he broke things off, saying he didn’t have time to talk to anyone anymore.

I wish I was kidding.

Months later, he messaged me, seeming excited and interested in hanging out. He gave flimsy excuses for his absence and his return, and only after I nervously asked him about it. Then, you guessed it—he ghosted me again. He did this at least five times, drawing out our “relationship” for years, before I finally realized what he was doing and blocked him.

According to relationship experts, “submariners” may do this for a variety of reasons. Dating and relationship coach Jonathan Bennett said they “either want to hide their reasons for disappearing or gloss over it,” possibly because they “were dating or spending time with someone else and that fell through.” He continued to say that people who “submarine” others may be entitled or narcissistic, and that it’s not okay for them to assume they can reconnect without consequences and disrespect you and your time.

Gigi Engle, a certified sex coach, said that submariners may also act this way because they feel insecure or bored. “Maybe they just stopped seeing someone, maybe they’re sick of being trapped indoors, or maybe they just need some validation and are hoping to get it from you,” she said. She explained they want you to respond so they can feel good about themselves, as though they’re still important to you.

If you think someone submarined you how you respond is ultimately up to you. However, it's important to keep this truth in mind: you deserve someone who shows conviction in how they feel about you. You deserve more than someone who leaves you hanging, and gives you reason to feel insecure about your worth to them.

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