Ghosting, breadcrumbing, paperclipping, stashing… get ready to add another dating term to your vocabulary: curving. First documented by Brittany Cox of Thought Catalog back in 2017, this phenomenon is a lot like ghosting, but without the abrupt disappearance. When someone curves you, they’ll occasionally respond to your texts, just eight days later — and they won’t actually commit to plans to meet up.
In her piece about the term, Cox begins by describing a man who curved her: They texted often, but whenever she tried to make an actual date, he’d change the subject. Cox’s friends informed her that she was being curved, a term Cox defines as “an ugly distant cousin of ‘ghosting.’” She writes, “When someone ‘ghosts’ you, they just suddenly stop responding with no explanation or goodbye. When someone ‘curves’ you, they keep responding, but they bat away any questions regarding commitment or any attempts to define your relationship.”
In some ways, curving can be worse than ghosting, because at least with ghosting, it’s a one-time thing. Curving can stretch on for weeks, months, or even indefinitely. As the top-rated Urban Dictionary definition, submitted in early 2019, puts it, “It’s like ghosting but more brutal, ‘cause they wanna seem nice. Maybe they take days, or even weeks, to reply to your last WhatsApp message. But instead of leaving you hanging (like a ghost would), a curver will reply, but their responses will be sporadic, closed off, and often apologetic, e.g. ‘I’m so sorry for not texting, I’ve just been really busy with insert predictable excuse here.’ Of course, they really might have been too occupied with work, family, friends, or the washing up to take a minute out of their day to message to you....... or not.”
That “or not” is right. Is anyone really so busy they take eight days to reply “lololol” to your funny meme? No! They’re not a “bad texter.” You’re being curved.
As for what to do about this lousy dating behaviour: If you ask your crush if they want to get drinks and they reply four days later with a complaint about their coworker — but no answer — disengage and move on.
Carolina Castaños, PhD, founder of MovingOn, an online healing program, previously told Refinery29 how to deal with ghosters — and the same advice applies to curvers, too. "When this is the go-to way of responding for an individual, if they do not work on themselves, this will most likely not change," she said. "This tells us that this individual has difficulty establishing relationships that are too close and that have a degree of intimacy. Think about what you want, what you want in a relationship with your partner or a close friend."
In other words: You deserve better. Instead of focusing on your undeserving curver, use that energy to look for someone who will respond to your suggestion to get drinks with, “Sounds great! How’s Thursday? There’s this new cocktail bar I want to check out.”