Penny dating is the latest toxic romantic trend you should be wary of

Unveiled in a TikTok video that went viral towards the end of 2023, a new romantic phenomenon known as “penny dating” has surfaced, proving to be extremely toxic for those caught in its web. Here’s what it is, how to recognise it, and how to address it.

From ghosting to catfishing, toxic romantic behaviours tagged as such by social media have become increasingly common in recent times.

More often than not, these behaviours create an imbalance in romantic relationships, leaving one party feeling emotionally drained and even physically affected.

Towards the end of 2023, a new trend gained traction on TikTok, spearheaded by one of its users: “penny dating”.

“Penny dating,” likened to the piggy bank metaphor

In a TikTok video shared in December 2023, Erika Tham delves into the concept of “penny dating” and the defining features.

This approach involves an initial substantial investment in a relationship, followed by a gradual decrease, aimed at chipping away at the self-esteem of the person on the receiving end. According to Tham, women are often likened to piggy banks in this scenario (hence the term “penny”), with the initial investment peaking at the onset of the encounter, “almost as if you were dropping a $100 bill into a piggy bank,” she elaborates.

Similar to the concept of love bombing, “penny dating” revolves around an initial 100% investment in terms of time, money, and effort, with the intent of capturing the other person’s interest during the initial encounter. Once the individual is hooked, the investment gradually dwindles, perhaps to 90%, to conserve resources and undermine the other person’s self-esteem. Periodically, the investment may spike momentarily to 95%, creating an illusion of progress, albeit at a level lower than the initial encounter.

@erikatham you learn something new everyday 🙃🙃🙃 #lovebombing #dating #boymath ♬ original sound – erikatham

Over time, this investment gradually diminishes, often camouflaged by slight fluctuations. For instance, an 80% investment may be followed by a brief period of 85%, then drop to 70%, followed by a stint of 75%, and so forth.

This decline eventually reaches a critically low threshold, leading the recipient of “penny dating” to become accustomed to minimal investment, yet remaining hooked on each minor increase. In this manner, one party maintains their partner’s self-esteem at a low level while offering minimal input and conserving their own resources.

Spotting “penny dating”

If your self-esteem is at a low ebb, “penny dating” can pose significant risks.

However, there are ways to identify individuals who employ this tactic.

Firstly, be cautious of those who shower you with affection or lavish gifts too early in the relationship. Take note if someone begins to disengage as the relationship progresses; in healthy dynamics, deeper mutual understanding and affection should ideally lead to increased investment in the relationship.

Be vigilant for other signs of manipulation; individuals who engage in these practices often do so habitually rather than in isolation. Finally, don’t hesitate to address your partner’s behavior through open communication.

If this proves challenging, it may indicate that your relationship lacks a foundation of healthy dynamics.

This article was syndicated from Marie Claire France
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer


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