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‘Houseplanting’ is worse than ghosting and I’m scared for us all

Who knew this had a name


So you're seeing someone, it's pretty chilled and you hang out a few times a week. You're really into them and love seeing each other. Well, when you do actually see each other. It can be a bit off and on, because they have a bad habit – they'll randomly ghost you for a bit and then pop back up as if nothing has changed. You get bouts of attention and then they vanish again. Essentially, they water you with affection and then disappear, on the regular, for as long as they please. You, my friend, are being treated like a houseplant.

There a thousands of names for dating trends at this point. We've had haunting, cushioning, love bombing and even humpty-dumptying. But there's always room for more, and houseplanting is just the latest red-flag-filled dating trend of the moment.

Where did it come from?

Houseplanting was a term that Samantha Rothenberg came up with this week. She's a Brooklyn based illustrator who posts feminist comics and illustrations. And, as of now, creates ground breaking dating terms that make you feel very seen.

Samantha told The Tab: "I came up with the idea for the comic while realising that I neglected to water my one houseplant for several weeks. As I poured water onto its soil and hoped it hadn't given up on me, I realised how often people do the same thing in dating.

"When you really like someone, and they aren't giving you the amount of attention you'd like, it hurts. As I've gotten older I've learned to move on from these people (in dating and friendships) and invest my time and energy into those who can reciprocate."

But how do you know if you're a houseplant? Here are they key signs of houseplanting:

They give you just enough attention

Thanks to them popping back to tend you every few weeks, you get just enough attention to let them come back. Plus, when they're gone you crave them so badly that you don't care that they disappeared. It essentially works in the same way as treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen.

This is obviously only ideal if you're not actually that keen because otherwise it's a pretty shit way to treat someone.

If you're keen, it will drive you crazy because there's no set pattern to their behaviour and you have no idea when, if ever, they will come back for more. It's entirely on their terms.

You don't know if it's a thing or not

Are you seeing each other? Just friends? Is it going to develop? No clue. You don't see each other regularly or consistently so you can't technically be "seeing each other" but friends don't shag, do they?

If you really want to tie this person down, this is going to bother you. But the whole point of them keeping you as a houseplant is so that they're not rooted down, they can just dip in and dip out. Meanwhile you're sat there wilting away in the harsh sunshine of your dying love.

It's definitely selfish. Unless it's the unlikely case that both people are agreed on houseplanting each other. That's actually pretty healthy. Like a well watered houseplant.

So, how do you get out of being a houseplant?

You can call the person out on how they're treating you, but if they don't care enough about you to change then your best bet is calling it off.

Plus, calling it off incurs a whole host of issues within itself because you can't really call off something that isn't a thing. And then you'll doubt whether you're allowed to be hurt because it's not even a breakup. So good luck with that one!

Are there benefits to being houseplanted?

Houseplanting can be good, if you're a cactus. If you can handle it and you don't need regular showers of affection then it can stop you being too keen or feeling suffocated by something new.

Whilst it's a bit shitty, if you're not looking for something serious maybe being a houseplant is exactly what you need. If you're scared of moving too fast, the type of person to keep house plants is exactly your vibe.

Also, houseplanting boys can be pretty fun too

You too can keep your own houseplants, if you want! If you're only texting one person, you're probably giving them your all and that can be a bit much. Instead, have a few house plants to tend to and spread your attention.

Like everything in life, it's all up to communication. Make sure to tell someone if you don't like being houseplanted, or you'll die from thirst. And if you're looking to keep a few houseplants, maybe warn them first that they're part of a greenhouse.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• How to know if you’re stuck in the fuckzone

• Being used by an emotional boy? He’s probably a Humpty Dumpty

• If horoscopes had their own Tinder bios, this is exactly what they would be