Groundhogging | The Toxic Dating Trend

Updated:

It’s that time of the year again. The weather is about to get warmer, cuffing season is closing, and toxic dating trends seem to be running rampant in everyone’s love lives. 

We’re not saying anything new when we talk about the fact that dating can sometimes feel more like a chore than a dream. I think by now, we can all agree that it can be incredibly difficult to keep the momentum going when it constantly feels as if we always have to go back to the drawing board every time our relationships fail, and then we get caught right back up in the cycle.

No matter how long you’ve been in the dating game, you’re more than likely feeling or have felt some form of dating burnout. Whether that’s because you can’t seem to find the right person on your dating apps or you keep meeting and matching with people who all show similar unhealthy traits. Sadly, burnout and frustration are very natural things to feel when you’re approaching dating and your love life, and a ton of people suffer from those emotions all the time. 

If you feel as though you’re stuck in an endless cycle of toxic relationships that seem to repeat themselves over and over again, you might be facing a severe case of groundhogging, the toxic dating trend that a number of people have turned to in an effort to feel safe and preserve some sense of normalcy. 

What Is Groundhogging?

Groundhogging is exactly what it sounds like; it’s the act of going back into your hole and getting stuck in a never-ending cycle of dating the same kind of person with the same kind of problems over and over again because the familiarity of the cycle brings you a false sense of safety and security. 

The term has been officially defined by the dating app Inner Circle as “The cycle of matching with and dating the same types of people — and constantly feeling underwhelmed.” They also list the synonyms as being closed-minded and inviting date fails. While this might not be the official way to define groundhogging, it is pretty accurate. 

Do you have someone in your life who dates the exact kind of person every single time, and it always ends up badly because they’re just repeating their own mistakes? Or maybe that person is you, and you’re just now realizing that you’re stuck in this toxic way of life as well. 

I’m sure by now, everyone has heard about having a certain ‘type’ of person they want to date. Whether that’s based on their personality, looks, job, interests, or anything under the sun, it’s completely valid to have a type, and it can honestly be helpful for you to be able to define that type if you’re on dating apps and looking for people who you might or might not have things in common with.

But strictly dating within your type can become slightly toxic and unproductive when you won’t allow yourself to pursue other options or even think about dating someone who wouldn’t typically fit into your ‘type.’ 

This not only limits and restricts you from finding success with a myriad of people, but it also stonewalls a number of wonderful people who might love to get to know you and possibly date you. 

While it’s always good to branch out of your comfort zone and be a little more adventurous when it comes to picking potential partners, it’s also good to note that, oftentimes, groundhogging is also defined by repeating toxic habits in your life. It’s the idea of dating the same kind of person over and over again but expecting different results. 

It’s truly a never-ending cycle that won’t stop until the person recognizes that they might be doing this. 

Why Do So Many People Experience Groundhogging?

It’s simultaneously comforting and concerning that a large number of people are familiar with or have even experienced some form of groundhogging in some way, shape, or form. 

When Inner Circle investigated the phenomenon of groundhogging initially, they found that over 72% of people said that they had a type, and of that, 72%, only one in four people said that they would be willing to date someone outside of that type. 

In a study conducted at the University of Toronto, experts examined the psychological effects that people go through after a breakup, and they found that the patterns that are now attributed to the phenomenon known as groundhogging were typical. 

man groundhogging

The lead author of the study, Yoobin Park, said, “It’s common that when a relationship ends, people attribute the breakup to their ex-partner’s personality and decide they need to date a different type of person.” However, even though the person might realize that their previous partner’s attitude and lifestyle were unhealthy or just a bad match for them, Park continues to talk about his findings.

He says, “Our research suggests there’s a strong tendency to nevertheless continue to date a similar personality.” This means that even if the person knows that continuing to date a certain kind of person might be a terrible decision, they still do it. 


Geoff MacDonald, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto, sheds some light on the subject as to why this happens. He says, “The degree of consistency from one relationship to the next suggests that people may indeed have a ‘type.’” 

Park says, “In every relationship, people learn strategies for working with their partner’s personality. If your new partner’s personality resembles your ex-partner’s personality, transferring the skills you learned might be an effective way to start a new relationship on good footing.”

So, to put it briefly, sometimes people date similar people not just because they feel safe but because they know what to do in those kinds of relationships. 

This is when the toxic cycle comes out in full force because, even though the person who is groundhogging might think that they’re doing it so that they can start the relationship off on a strong foot and go into a new situation with some knowledge under their belt, they’re really just being lazy and showing their new partners that they don’t even have enough time and energy to invest into getting to know the new individual and all of their unique qualities. 

Is There a Way to Break the Groundhogging Cycle?

We don’t ever want to present you with a problem and then not give you the tools and information that you need to solve it. If you’ve read this far and you’re pretty sure that you’re in a groundhogging cycle, the good news is that it’s relatively easy to break the cycle once you’ve realized that you’re in it. 

Of course, the first step that you should take is to assess your past relationships, maybe get some outsider’s point-of-views and see if you’re actually guilty of groundhogging in your dating life. 

If you’re pretty sure that this is something you’re guilty of and you can sense a pattern that’s occurred in your dating life so far, you might want to start to really think about what you want out of your partner and out of your dating life. 

This is now a stage where you can start to improve on your past behaviors in order to find success in your new relationships. Here are some steps that you might want to take if you’ve noticed yourself getting stuck in a groundhogging cycle. 


1. Take Time to Heal

Although this might be a little presumptuous of us, one of the reasons why you’re getting stuck in a constant cycle and dating the same kind of person might be that you never really got over the first relationship that started this downward spiral. 

If you take a step back and look at everyone who might fit into your current type, you will more than likely see some common patterns. It might be worth it for you to examine those patterns and see if you can attribute them to their original source. 

For example, if you were in a relationship with someone before your groundhogging cycle began and you were really in love with them and the relationship ended, they might be the person you consciously or unconsciously modeled your type after. 

This idea would be all the more likely if you went from your relationship with that person into a rebound relationship a little too soon after. In that case, you were probably looking for someone who ‘felt’ like your ex and even reminded you of them in some ways. 

Then when that relationship ended, your wounds might still not have healed, and you then look for another person with a similar personality style. And then that happened with the next person, and the next person until it becomes a cycle — hence: groundhogging

If you’re taking some time to do some self-reflection and you notice that all of the people you’ve dated are eerily similar to someone really special in your life, you might want to put your search for love on hold for a bit until you can give yourself the proper amount of time to heal from the primary relationship.


2. Assess What You Want Out of Love

I know that this can seem like a broad and scary topic, especially if you’ve only had a limited amount of success or experience when it comes to love because you’ve been dating the same kind of person over and over again. 

When you notice yourself getting sucked into a toxic cycle, you might want to really start to reassess what it is that you want out of love and how you want to go about finding it.

Making a list of requirements, hard yeses, and hard nos is something that you could do if you’re trying to figure out what you want in love. Of course, note that the problem with groundhogging more than likely originated from you being a bit too strict and lengthy with what and who you wanted as a partner, so just take that with a grain of salt and make sure that you’re not putting too many restrictions or expectations on your future partner. 

This also might be a great time for you to reflect on your past relationships and think about the common traits that you didn’t like in them and why you didn’t like those aspects of your partners. You’re allowed to have boundaries and set your expectations high, but we just advise you not to get stuck in the cycle of dating the same exact person. 


3. Get Back Out There

Once you feel like you’re ready, and you can and should take as much time as you need to feel this way, it’s time to jump back on the horse and get used to dating different people who are nothing like what you’ve dated in your past.

This is where dating apps come in handy. Because they’re open to everyone and so many people use them, they’re a great option for you to start exploring your love life and letting fate take the wheel a bit instead of being rigid about what you like and don’t like in a partner. 

This is especially helpful if you know that you’re guilty of finding and talking to the same kind of person and you’re trying to break that habit.

If you notice yourself getting pulled back in or leaning more toward the type of person that you’re trying to avoid, you can just unmatch with them immediately and move on with your day.

You are also more likely to find success with open casting or dating people who have nothing to do with what your typical type used to be when you log onto a dating app, and see all of your options. 


Conclusion

Dating apps are truly the best place to find all kinds of people, and we promise that if you need a little refresher in your dating life or if you feel as though you’ve been stuck in a rut and dating the same person over and over again, dating apps will not only give you the freedom to find someone new, but they’ll also give you the resources that you need. 

man and woman in forest smiling at each other with book and heart icon next to them

Storytelling and Relationships | Sharing Authentic Experiences to Build Connection

Do you want to hear a scary story? Joking! It’s not spooky, we just wanted to get your full attention. And now that we have ...
woman looking at phone with hearts and community of people in the background

The Role of Dating Apps in Connecting Rural Communities

Love can sprout in the most unexpected of places, and in the digital age, dating apps have become fertile soil (sorry) for bringing together people ...
woman embarrassed while on date

Catfished or Just Bad Lighting? How to Navigate the Surprise of Deceptive Dating Profile Pictures

For dating app users, swiping right to actually meeting up IRL has become as routine as that first cup of coffee—but that doesn’t make it ...