Firedooring Is The Frustrating Dating Trend Ruining Relationships

Dating can be full of frustrating interactions and confusing mixed signals. However, knowing that you're not alone — and having a word to describe what you're going through — can take the sting out of the situation. One example is firedooring, a term that first made an appearance on Urban Dictionary in 2017. Fast forward a few years, and it continues to be a dating technique used to maintain toxic, one-sided relationships.

In a Metro article that helped popularize the concept, firedooring is defined as access to a relationship that is only granted by one person. When they're not available, the chance to interact or further the relationship flies out the window. For example, they might ignore you when you message them, but when they initiate the conversation, they're suddenly warm and interested. Or if you suggest hanging out, they blow you off yet make themselves available if the meet-up was their idea.

Firedooring can create an unhealthy, lopsided relationship dynamic, yet it's subtle enough that you may not realize it's happening. It can even occur in long-term relationships where affection and emotional availability are offered freely by one partner but not by the other.

Why firedooring is so damaging to relationships

If you're realizing you've been burned by firedooring, know that the pain and frustration you might be feeling are totally valid. As marriage and family therapist Holly Brown wrote on PsychCentral, emotional withholding — where a person ignores or serves up the silent treatment to their partner — can be a way of securing control and power in a relationship. When you're on the receiving end of this treatment, you may feel like you have to prove your worth to the other person.

Coach and author Benjamin Daly offered a similar take in a TikTok video on hot-and-cold partners. In the clip, he explains that their behavior is often due to their ambivalence about the relationship — a painful reality to face if you're deeply invested in someone. "Listen, do not waste your time trying to convince someone of your worth," Daly urged.

Then there's the one-sidedness of firedooring. When you constantly make yourself available to someone who only warms up to you when it's convenient for them, your mental health can take a toll. "You can become depressed, anxious, frightened and have poor sleep habits," clinical psychologist Dr. Scott Bea told Cleveland Clinic. "All those things come with any stressor — and relationships can produce lots of stress."

How to escape the firedoor trap

No one deserves to be firedoored by a partner or love interest. Thankfully, once you realize it's happening to you, there are ways to free yourself from the toxic dating trend. Firstly, with any hot-and-cold relationship dynamic, it's important to be direct about what you're experiencing. Next time your partner dials up their interest in you, ask them what changed and why they weren't responsive when you initiated. They may have a reasonable explanation — or they may become cold and defensive, signaling that it's time to walk away from the relationship. As Dr. Scott Bea shared with Cleveland Clinic, "If you make reasonable requests, and your partner is stonewalling or rigid or can't negotiate that path with you, it's going to bring about resentment." And, he adds, ongoing resentment breeds contempt, which often spells the end of a relationship.

It's also a good idea to take stock of the personal tendencies and beliefs that could have made you more susceptible to being firedoored. For instance, you may have an anxious attachment style that makes you more likely to cling to others, even if they only offer sporadic breadcrumbs. Or perhaps you're attracted to people who are emotionally distant. Consider what a healthy partnership can look like and how it differs from firedooring. Then, take the metaphorical fire exit in your dysfunctional relationship and leave the destructive blaze behind you.