By Jenna Ryu

Is your new fling afraid of commitment? My interview in USA Today explains the ‘flashpanner,’ a partner that moves from love bombing, to futurizing, then unexpectedly bolts. #flashpanner #afraidofcommitment #lovebombing

Jenna writes, “Most people love the initial excitement during the early days of a relationship: The coziness of cuddling. The spontaneity of stolen kisses. But when things become more serious, some people instinctively leave.  Why? The latest dating trend is called “flashpanning,” and it describes someone who indulges in the instant spark, only to ghost when the relationship becomes “too real.” Think, for instance, of a partner who loves the thrill of first dates but jumps ship when it’s time to meet the parents or become Instagram official. “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,” says Susan Winter, a relationship expert based in New York. “And instead of saying, ‘oh, we have conflict. Something has happened,’ they don’t understand this is a normal part of a relationship.” It isn’t easy to commit to a serious relationship, but experts warn flashpanning can be destructive for those on the receiving end. Here’s how to tell if your partner is flashpanning you before you become too emotionally invested.

What is flashpanning?

As the name implies, the trend is a “flash in the pan” scenario: It typically starts within the first month of the romance, characterized by love-bombing and intense, over-the-top flattery, only for it to end in being ghosed. Expect to hear things like, “I’ve never felt this way before” or “I’ve never met anyone like you,” Winter warns. But after the honeymoon phase, flashpanners can’t handle the commitment: They may, for instance, refuse to put a label on a romance or dodge questions about meeting your friends.

Flashpanning may not be malicious. So why do people do it?

Sometimes, flashpanning can be a manipulation strategy. But unlike other toxic dating trends such as hoovering orpocketing, flashpanning is typically a sign of emotional immaturity, experts say. It may stem from an inability to communicate thoughts and intentions clearly or from a lack of experience. “They love the high. They love the fun. We do not really know who they are,” Winter says. However, “when you defy the perfect ideal in their mind, they do not have a way to communicate effectively what they want, what they’d like and how to work together when things ‘get real.’ They evacuate because it’s not fun.”

Why flashpanning is toxic

There’s nothing wrong with not wanting a serious relationship. But flashpanning can pose consequences for people on the receiving end, especially those who want more of a commitment.  Whether it’s intentional or not, “the (flashpanner) wants to get you under their spell…They want to get something from you. They keep massaging your emotions and getting you hooked,” Winter says, calling this a “disposable mentality.”

How to deal with a flashpanner?

Before you become too emotionally invested, relationship experts recommend some steps to take to avoid heartbreak:

Try ‘hardballing,’ a dating strategy that encourages people to be upfront about their romantic goals from the very first interaction. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, say it on the first date.
Communicate honestly: Because a flashpanner tends to “run away” at the first sign of discomfort or conflict, it’s important to establish a foundation of honesty and communication, so that you feel comfortable expressing your feelings.
Remember, it’s not you: Most times, flashpanning is indicative of immaturity and poor communication skills. “You are not a failure,” Winter reminds. “If you’ve communicated clearly and talked about relationships and they haven’t been able to work with you, it’s not you. It’s them. And that’s OK.”

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