young middle eastern or hispanic couple having relationship difficulties
The Paperclipping Dating Trend Explained
Why It’s Called That
Once upon a time, Microsoft had a rather annoying and disruptive “helper” named Clippy (a paperclip with eyes) that would pop up whenever you didn’t need or want it. In 2019, illustrator Samantha Rothenberg resurrected Clippy in one of her Instagram posts to compare him to a person she used to date.
What Is Paperclipping?
Rothbenberg described the person she dated as someone who would text for no reason from time to time, was damaged and flakey, someone who didn't actually want to date, but also felt it necessary to make the occasional appearance via text so she would be forced to remember they existed. This person was Clippy in human form.
Why It Happens
Paperclippers may be immature and crave attention. Clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly says, "A person might paperclip due to unconscious fears of being abandoned or rejected ... the paper-clipping person 'disappears' before things get meaningful — and then reappears in order to feel validated and important."
Why It’s Toxic
When someone toxic reappears, it can cause us to revisit the hurt they may have caused — and the confusion they're bringing with their reappearance. If they have zero desire to fix what was broken or try again in a healthy, respectful way, then it's nothing but toxic, heartless, and downright cruel.
Signs of Paperclipping
The biggest sign that you're being paperclipped is if a blast from the past randomly pops up via text or social media, and when you respond, you get nothing but silence from their end. Another sign is they make plans with you but flake out — once they get the validation they crave, they disappear again just so they can reappear later.