Stuck in a vicious cycle of relationships that just don’t seem to work out?

What you could be experiencing is fleabagging, one of the latest “trends” to hit the dating scene.

From ghosting to gaslighting, dating in the 21st century unfortunately comes with its own fresh set of challenges.

What is fleabagging?

In short, fleabagging is a modern dating term used to describe someone who constantly chooses the wrong partners to date. If you’ve watched the BBC series Fleabag, you probably have a good grasp of what fleabagging is all about.

Littered with specks of delightfully dry and dark humor, the show has Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character, Fleabag, repeatedly landing herself in not-so-pleasant dating situations—all because she constantly chooses the wrong partners.

While we might not find ourselves falling for a priest unlike Fleabag, many of us are probably guilty of making a few *questionable* relationship decisions, such as dating someone who clearly isn’t good for us.

The psychology behind fleabagging

There are many reasons why humans are complete hot messes, but psychology explains why we tend to exhibit such behaviours, even if we know they aren’t healthy for us. 

You may have heard of the attachment theory, a concept first developed in the 1950s by psychologist John Bowlby to describe the natural bond we form with our main caregivers growing up.

These bonds eventually affect the way we find, keep and maintain our relationships. According to the theory, there are four different attachment styles. 

The 4 key attachment styles:

  • Secure
  • Anxious
  • Avoidant
  • Anxious-avoidant

While research has shown that secure types are happier and able to retain more stable relationships than other types, this doesn’t mean we can’t change our behavior patterns despite our attachment styles; we just have to decide to put in the work.

Worried about sabotaging your own dating life? Here are some signs that you might be fleabagging.

1. You always go for the same “type”.

Are you always drawn to a certain “type” of person? Is it difficult to date someone outside of what feels familiar?

It’s not that you don’t have any other choices—the other dates simply don’t seem as “attractive” as that bad boy or girl.

Dating someone outside of your comfort zone is a refreshing way to not only break the cycle, but create something really magical.

2. It’s one toxic relationship after another.

If you’ve been in the dating scene for awhile and find yourself ending up in misery time after time, sorry to break the news—but you’re most likely fleabagging yourself.

Are you subconsciously drawn to codependency or other unhealthy relationship habits? If the answer is yes, it’s highly possible that you are constantly projecting your own (sometimes unrealistic) desires onto your relationships.

When you don’t set proper boundaries with your partners, it’s the same as choosing to stay in toxic relationships over healthy ones.

3. You don’t learn from past relationship mistakes. 

Spending time reflecting on what we want and need from our relationships and how they can be improved is important if you want to avoid being a victim of fleabagging.

If you fail to question and understand why things don’t go the way you want them to, you will always find yourself with the “wrong person”.

4. You are emotionally dependent on your partner.

Yes, being able to depend on your partner is essential for a thriving relationship—but not when it becomes excessive. 

If you are always looking for your partner to validate your feelings and resolve your insecurities, you might need to start focusing more on self-improvement and self love

Being insecure and needing reassurance from our partners all the time makes us more prone to choosing the wrong partners, simply because we are the wrong partners.

5. You date out of loneliness and fear.

You can’t stand the thought of being single for more than a day and find yourself constantly open to dating anyone who comes along and shows you some affection.

It also doesn’t help that there are plenty of dating apps that have massively expanded our options.

The next time you choose to swipe right, remember that choosing to date out of loneliness can (and probably will) drive us to make regrettable relationship choices.

6. You don’t feel fulfilled in your relationship.

There always seems to be something missing or a void that can’t be filled with all of your dates.

Oftentimes, we focus too much on our relationships with others instead of working on ourselves. This can leave us feeling unfulfilled, because we fail to see that we need to change something within.

A lack of fulfillment can result in us hopping from one relationship to another without realizing that the true problem is us, not them.

I’m guilty of fleabagging; now what?

It takes real strength to admit that you are fleabagging—and even more to break out of the pattern. 

Recognizing your own behavior patterns is the first step to finding a way out of sticky dating situations. One way is to build up your self-esteem, which can work wonders in keeping you away from unhealthy habits.

Avoid fitting your dates into a perfect mold. Instead, let things go with the flow and consciously stop making the same relationship mistakes again. 

Lastly, don’t be overly critical towards yourself. Dating is tough, but at the end of the day, it’s all about learning something new and prioritizing your growth.