Paperclipping: New Dating Trend That’s Infuriating Yet Irresistible

Are they madly in love with me or just trying to drive me insane?

Paperclipping: New Dating Trend That’s Infuriating Yet Irresistible

It’s not an embarrassing pretzel-like sex act: it’s worse. Oh, and it’s also irresistible. How so? Allow us to explain.

Tinder trills. Soon enough you’re meeting for a drink, heading back to your place and enjoying some spontaneous displacement of linen. You fall asleep in a pile of rumpled glory, only for them to sneak out in the early hours.

“Fair enough,” you think. It’s too soon to spoon anyhow. You sigh, make some coffee, and wait for their charming morning-after text.


A few days pass and you start seriously questioning your pillow talk. Then, just as you give up hope, they follow you on Instagram.

You play it cool, like a few pics, and ask what they’re up to next weekend.

No interest.

Why did you bother following me then? You vent your frustration to a friend and move on with your life, while they proceed — for the next few months — both to ignore you and also to religiously watch every single one of your Instagram stories.

Whatever: you find someone something else to do with your time, throwing yourself into your career, hobbies, side hustle and a bunch of other dates. Then, just as your life reaches Marie Kondo alignment, your old flame — who ghosted you after one date — suddenly hits you up with a friendly message.

Whether this has anything to do with the gym selfie you just took or the career update you just posted is irrelevant. Fact is; they have popped up with no pretext, sending you a message you have no time for: much like Clippy the irritating Microsoft Office assistant who used to goad you with random questions on word, often when you least needed it.

As reported by Metro and Yahoo, this has become such a common faux pas that it now has an official name: paperclipping, a piece of nomenclature that was made Instagram official earlier this week by New York artist Samantha Rothenberg, who posted a too-close-to-home illustration of the phenomenon to her 125k followers.

View this post on Instagram

Who remembers clippy? 📎 well he’s here to make sure you don’t forget him 🤠

A post shared by Samantha Rothenberg (@violetclair) on

As Metro put it, these unexpected messages are never malicious or rude, “they’re just designed to bait and baffle… aim[ing] to get a response by reeling you in with their absolutely baffling timing.”

“Upon receiving one, you’ll be struck with many questions. What do they want? Why now? Is something horribly wrong? Are they madly in love with me? Should I respond?”

Or course it can be supremely tempting to message them back, even if only to try to get to the bottom of their unexpected text. But — if you’re looking for payback — this is the wrong road to go down as your reply “could condone their initial bad behaviour” and “it’s unlikely to end well,” (Yahoo).

But as gluttons for punishment ourselves, we’re not going to judge. Either ignore them or type yourself silly: but whatever you do, don’t assume you are now a priority for them; they most likely just got bored.

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