Cookie-Jarring: Don't Let Yourself Be The Second Option With This Lame Dating Trend

For those trekking through it, the modern dating scene can be disheartening and intimidating. All you need to do is browse through the dating content published by TikTok users who document their experiences online and you'll see that awkward moments and rejection (and a few laughs, thankfully) are what awaits most people willing to dive into the dating pool.

One of the most troubling aspects of the current dating landscape is the onslaught of trends that are dominating the space. Between paperclippingmate poaching, and cause-playing, there are endless problematic behaviors to be wary of when trying to find a mate — and often, they're behaviors that previous generations haven't had to deal with (unless our grandparents had to worry about flashpanning in the 1950s?).

In particular, some of the more obnoxious trends to have emerged in recent years take advantage of the fact that matching with dates is easier than it ever has been, thanks to the accessibility of dating apps. With the help of apps like Hinge or Tinder, you can have infinite potential suitors at your fingertips, to the point where you can even match with and spend time on those that you aren't actually serious about. And so naturally, trends like cookie-jarring are born.

What is cookie-jarring?

The New York Times defines cookie-jarring as, "When a person seeks a relationship with someone else as a backup plan." This can be likened to a cookie jar because the person who is the backup plan is "stored" in the jar (often with a bunch of other "cookies") to be eaten when/if it suits.

Now, backup plans in general are fine. There's nothing wrong with setting yourself up with a plan B when it comes to your career, your living situation, travel, and plenty of other life sectors. But in this case, cookie-jarring is terrible because the person doing it is being completely selfish and treating others in the equation as if their feelings don't matter. That university degree you'd like to study as your second option won't be offended because it's your plan B. But a real person whose time you've wasted, and whom you've been leading on to serve your own interests? They absolutely deserve better.

The Independent explains that cookie-jarring is different from rotational dating (where you date multiple people at the same time) because in the latter, you're actively looking for a serious relationship. When you find someone you want to be with, you stop pursuing the other people you've been dating. But with cookie-jarring, you hook that person's interest and make them believe you're going to commit to them to stop them from getting serious with anyone else. You string them along permanently, in case you end up with no other options, which is completely unfair. 

How to know when you're being cookie-jarred

Unfortunately, people guilty of cookie-jarring go out of their way to keep their cookies from finding out that they're being stored in a jar. Still, there are ways to figure out the truth if you find yourself in that situation. Mostly, the signs of cookie-jarring closely mirror the signs that someone has no intentions of committing to you or isn't serious about you.

Psychotherapist and author Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., told Better by Today that a common red flag of someone who's "probably just using you as a reserve" is a date who only makes plans at the last minute (because the plans they prioritized have fallen through). Also watch out for dates who won't talk about the future with you after a reasonable amount of time together. 

It can be a real stab in the gut if you find out that someone is just using you for a backup plan. Depending on where your relationship stands, it's often worth having an honest conversation about what's going on. Bring up your worries with them, and gage how prepared or able they are to make you a real priority in their life. If the person can't be honest, take responsibility for their behavior, or change, the best thing to do may be cutting off contact. Remember, you deserve to be someone's priority; not an option they're keeping on hand in case their real plans don't work out.