Spider-Webbing: The New Toxic Dating Trend That Aims To Manipulate

If you’ve ever been a victim of gaslighting or ghosting, you know how damaging these can be. But now, there’s another dating trend that is worryingly making the rounds, made up of a collection of manipulating techniques – and it’s called spider-webbing.

Emma Hathorn,’s in-house dating expert, tells GLAMOUR: “Spider-webbing is a collection of manipulative tactics some singletons will implement to try and win over a date. From gaslighting and breadcrumbing to love bombing and therapy baiting, it’s when a potential partner creates a web of deceit and manipulation through a collection of toxic behaviours, much like how a spider would carefully weave its web to trap unsuspecting prey.”

Below, Hathorn shares the key signs of spider-webbing and why this toxic dating trend is so harmful.

‌How to spot spider-webbing:

“It can be difficult to spot spider-webbing because its often built up of subtle behaviours that gradually escalate over time. However, there are some key signs to watch out for that can help you recognise these behaviours:

  1. Love bombing: 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.
  2. Breadcrumbing: If someone is sending out flirty or affectionate cues without a real intention of commitment – they may be using you.
  3. Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a tactic in which the manipulator tries to make you doubt your own perceptions. They might deny things they said or did, or lead you to believe you’re being irrational, leading you to question your reality. Make sure you stay true to your beliefs and stand your ground if someone unfairly challenges you.”

Why is spider-webbing so bad?

Spider-webbing can be viewed as the most toxic of dating trends because it is a trend that incapsulates a number of manipulative behaviours. Just as a spider carefully weaves its web, an individual will lure in their dates with a series of subtle and unsuspecting tactics. Those that fall foul of spiderwebbing will often be left with lasting emotional damage and a lack of self-esteem. It can also have a lasting effect on future relationships with people finding it hard to trust new dates, as well as entering new potential relationships with scepticism and lack of confidence.”

How to turn spider-webbing around to empower you:

  1. “Spotting the signs of spider webbing early is the first step to overcoming it. By educating yourself on the different tactics ‘Spider Webbers’ might use, daters can immediately call them out on their actions. It helps you to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to abusive behaviour, which is incredibly empowering, minimising effort with timewasters”.
  2. “By being upfront about your needs, wants and expectations you will receive a better quality of dates. It’s all about raising the bar and demanding the best from would be daters.”
  3. “By being upfront about your needs, wants and expectations you will receive a better quality of dates. It’s all about raising the bar, and then raising it one more time— and then raising it again. Don’t compromise on your standards, stick to them, and even make them stricter. It’s 2023, it’s time to do better in our dating lives.”