From gophering to ghostlighting – a combination of ghosting and gaslighting – the dating world is rife with toxic trends. Lately, a new term has emerged in the form of “spider webbing”: lovers who find themselves trapped in a web woven by their partner.
This manipulative technique consists of ensnaring and trapping a partner through various processes to gain total control over them. According to UK relationship expert Emma Hathorn, spider webbing is effectively “a web of deceit and manipulation that can trap victims in an unstable and toxic relationship”.
Spider webbing actually encompasses several toxic dating behaviours. These include:
- love bombing: an avalanche of emotions and compliments designed to create emotional dependence;
- breadcrumbing: making people long for something without ever making it happen;
- therapy baiting: lying about being in therapy; and
- gaslighting: a manipulative technique designed to instill doubt in the other person.
As a result, the victim finds themselves manipulated and confused by a romantic partner who likes to be in a position of strength, total power and control, even if it means lying and deceiving others.
These techniques can become even more common as the holidays approach. “The upcoming festive season means more people are keen to not be alone over the next few months, leading to more desperation and potentially more manipulative behaviours,” psychotherapist Tasha Bailey told HuffPost.
So, how can you protect yourself from falling into such a trap? You need to be extremely vigilant if your partner is showing signs of spider webbing, experts caution.
“This is usually characterised by a desire to establish excessive closeness too quickly, being overly familiar, or expecting too much too soon,” warns Dr Sarah Bishop, a clinical psychologist from Birmingham.
In brief, any relationship you enter into should be based on trust, mutual respect and communication. Having a chat with your partner can help clear up any doubts you may have, assuming you aren’t already in a toxic relationship; while talking things over with others, or with a specialist, can save you from being ensnared in a sticky domestic situation.