What is ‘flashpanning’ and why does it happen? My feature in Glam explains this troubling dating trend used by commitment-phobes.

Amanda writes, “If you’re going to date in the 21st century, you better get used to dating trends — especially toxic ones. We’re living in an era that Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales labeled as the “dating apocalypse” and although this isn’t the beginning of it, we’re certainly not even remotely close to the end of it.

It seems that pretty much every week another dating trend surfaces that we as daters need to be wary of. Although not every person we meet is going to use a toxic dating trend on us, because each of these trends gets a fun little label, it means it’s happening enough that someone out there — if not many people out there — is experiencing it. You may have avoided being ghosted or breadcrumbed so far, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself in a situation where you’re being paperclipped or exposed to zombieing.

The latest troubling dating trend to pop up? Flashpanning. It’s far less glamorous than it sounds, so here’s everything you need to know about it.

What is flashpanning?

Being born out of the saying “a flash in the pan,” meaning that someone has a sudden but short-lived appearance or success, flashpanning isn’t much different. Flashpanning is sudden, exciting, then is followed by a person quickly taking their leave when the honeymoon phase is over.

Not unlike love-bombing, in which the relationship gets off on a hot and heavy foot and is inundated with affection and gifts that are over-the-top, flashpanning starts the same way. There are a lot of romantic gestures, promises of a future together, and all the things that most of us are looking for when it comes to dating someone new. But when things start to cool off and the relationship becomes something real that requires maintenance and upkeep, the person doing the flashpanning checks out and usually does so in just a matter of weeks. For them, it’s all about the fun in the beginning and not the effort and time that comes with having an actual relationship.

Why Does it Happen?

Three words: fear of commitment. Flashpanning is a commitment-phobe’s dream dating trend because it gives them all the great stuff that comes in the early stages of dating. They meet someone, turn on the charm, have an amazing time, get what they want out of it, then take off. Why stick around when it’s obvious that things are — gasp! — moving in a serious direction?

“They like when it’s fun. But when it gets real, they have no skill set. They evacuate, because now something has gone wrong for them,” relationship expert Susan Winter tells USA Today. “And instead of saying, ‘oh, we have conflict. Something has happened,’ they don’t understand this is a normal part of a relationship.”

Because they lack the skill set, as Winter mentions, to deal with what it takes to have a relationship, they also don’t know how to say goodbye or even officially end it. Instead, they ghost you. It ultimately becomes a smorgasbord of dating trends.

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