Freckling a Partner: It’s More Than Skin Deep

Are you the kind of summer lover who disappears when the days grow cooler?

Posted Jul 03, 2018

Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock
Source: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

While not everyone is interested in forming lasting romantic attachments, it seems that the young adult population is finding creative ways to describe some of the mating behaviors that may have existed for generations, but did not have the upbeat monikers that are used today.

There are a number of new, hashtag-worthy terms for romantic relationships that aren't perceived as the type that last long term. One of the newest terms — one that is highly seasonal — is “freckling.” Getting freckled means that the partner who was right there for you when warm weather rolled around fades from the scene as soon as the daylight starts to fade with the arrival of autumn. Although this type of relationship has been around about as long as summer vacations have been a part of the culture, this new metaphorical moniker very aptly describes it.

Here are some other trending terms for relationships that tend to have unfashionable endings:

1. Freckling

If you’re prone to freckles, you know that the longer you stay out in the sun, the more likely they are to appear. But once the sunshine starts to fade and you begin to spend more time indoors, the freckles are going to get lighter. That’s why this metaphor is so apt for a summer romance. These lovers are ready to hang out at the beach, poolside, or wherever your outdoor activities take you — but once August starts fading into September, the romance fades, and the “freckle” gets harder to see. Of course, next May, the same old freckle may reappear and be as available and present as the summer before.

2. Cushioning

Cushioning is just what it sounds like — plumping up your network with potential fall-back partners, so that if your current relationship doesn’t work out, you’ve got a safe and cushiony place to fall. Someone might have a core group of potential partners on whom she relies for support or with whom she flirts even when engaged in a seemingly monogamous relationship. While it may not be considered technically cheating on someone, there is ample research indicating that once you begin to consider other options, you have already left a relationship on some level.

3. Stashing

Stashing is a situation in which you believe that you and your significant other are an “official” couple, but you realize that he or she has maybe avoided introducing you to their family, friends, or other significant people in their life. You may feel like you’ve been stashed away in some corner where you are hidden away from the rest of their life. They may avoid posting the inaugural couples pic on Snapchat or Facebooking themselves into an official relationship with you.

Sometimes a person gets stashed, because his partner feels that she is dating down by choosing to go out with him or is somehow ashamed of the partner. Sometimes it happens when someone is trying to keep a relationship on the down-low to avoid creating drama with their family, or if they're friends with an ex or someone who wanted to be the one dating the partner. Sometimes, though, one person may stash his or her partner to remain on the dating market, just in case someone equally or more appealing shows up in her life. They're able to have their stash available when they want it, but also able to give off a sense of singlehood to potential partners.

4. Ghosting

Ghosting is all about evaporating into thin air surreptitiously when you are ready to end a relationship without any drama or actual confrontation. It’s about ignoring calls or texts, “unfriending” or “unfollowing” someone, and quietly disappearing from their life. It can be a relief in some situations: Those who prefer to avoid conflict feel that this is a safe way to end a relationship. But people on the receiving end of the ghosting may feel that they are being cheated out of a final face-to-face opportunity to win someone back. Ghosting victims often come to feel that this is the most unforgivable method of ending a relationship — with no closure, just residual resentment. ["Zombies," by the way, are the partners who ghost you for a while, and then try to raise the romance back to life. They’re like the walking dead, and they try to show up in your life just as you’ve finally been able to lay them to rest and move back into the world of the living.]

5. Breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing is a variation of ghosting, but is even more irritating to those who are being left the breadcrumbs. It is characterized by a person leaving a sparse or sporadic “trail” of continued interest. It's typically just the bare minimum of response to still be considered “in the picture,” even though both parties usually realize that the breadcrumber has already left the picture. Waiting around for the next crumb can become an obsessive hunt for proof of feelings that really are no longer present. The breadcrumber may feel less guilty by backing "gently" out of a relationship but unfortunately this approach may actually be crueler, as the crumb finder may be pinning unrealistic amounts of hope on the few crumbs tossed his or her way.

Virtual Heartache Hurts Just as Much as Face-to-face Heartache

Communication methods have shifted dramatically over the last two decades, as smartphones have catapulted us into a world of virtual presence and virtual relationships. Relationships once relied on presence and engagement in the real world, but today relationships can exist almost fully in the virtual world, depending on distance, schedules, and time available to invest in relationships. Unfortunately, the human heart has not kept up with the lightning speed of technological advances, and although there are a million easy ways to use technology to insert distance into a relationship, the resulting heartache isn’t made any easier than it was a generation ago.