Are you guilty of 'single baiting'? What hiding your relationship means

Now party season has landed, drinks will be flowing and mingling – whether that’s with friends or colleagues – will be firmly on the agenda. But a certain social situation may also arise.

Perhaps you find yourself at the bar with friends and you get chatting to another group, and one person in particular is giving your friend a lot of time – even flirting with them.

You know your pal isn’t single, they have a partner of a few years, but they seem to be enjoying the attention and are purposefully withholding the fact they are in a committed relationship to sustain the conversation.

They’re putting single bevahiour out there, without telling the entire truth.

Whether you’re guilty of it yourself, or you know a friend who is, this ‘single baiting’ is very much a thing.

It’s technically not cheating, as nothing has happened – boundaries are still in place. In fact, ‘single baiting’ is similar, in many ways, to ‘preating‘ (AKA, pre-cheating), but is agurably the step before this.

It’s deliberately not volunteering the fact that you’re in a relationship – as you know you’ll get treated differently, as a result.

While we’re likely to witness ‘single baiting’ in full swing during the upcoming party season, sexologist and relationship therapist Ness Cooper stresses it’s not a new phenomenon.

But why do people do it?

Ness tells ‘Some may engage in single baiting due to finding that their current relationship lacks motivation and drive for them to grow.

‘They may be confused with what they want from their current relationship and try something else to try and figure out what the motivation is. 

‘This doesn’t often work out very well, and the individual doing the single baiting will find themselves in a tricker position than before.’

Ness explains that it can also occur when a person feels a spark is missing from their relationship.

She adds: ‘Some people get stuck in a negative loop where they struggle pushing the relationship further to grow, and find methods that seem easy to find that ‘new relationship energy’ again – such as single baiting.

‘For a relationship to work, we can’t rely on one partner for the spark – it needs to come from ourselves, too.

‘This can be very frightening and some try, and avoid, learning what makes them spark in a relationship as they are scared to find out. This can result in them seeking the spark from another.’

So is single baiting ever OK? Can it ever be a harmless chat for a self-esteem boost, or does it have more serious consequences?

It seems experts advise against it – and suggest it may indicate something is wrong in your current relationship.

‘Often, with single baiting, it can lead to a lot of hurt and even trauma in the long-run,’ explains Ness.

‘When found out the individual doing the baiting may lose all relationships they are in, or find they have to make a hard decision. 

‘In some situations, it can be a solid sign of toxic habits from the individual who is single baiting – for example, they may have narcissistic tendencies.

‘Regardless of how someone may find themselves in the situation where they are single baiting, it can be largely influenced by something not working out fully in their current relationship and sometimes it will be due to both partners.’

In other words, if you find yourself single baiting, it could be time to take a closer look at your relationship.

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