Dating Glossary: Curving

You may not even know it is happening

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As dating has evolved to a much more digital landscape, a slew of new words and trends have emerged, requiring singles to brush up on their knowledge before diving in. To ensure you’re up to date and ready to tackle the ever-changing vocabulary, reference Datezie’s Dating Glossary. Our collection defines, explains—and offers humor and strategy—to the new ABC’s of falling in love.

TDLR: Curving: when a person rejects you subtly and continuously—but keeps you hanging on.

It’s not about how well you take a windy route, or the best way to throw a baseball. In modern dating, curving might be one of the most confusing—and frankly, ultimately devastating—ways a person can treat you. And though you probably only admit it to your best friend, you’ve likely been guilty of curving someone, too. Allow us to set up this all-too-common scene: boy and girl meet. Girl thinks boy is great—but not perfect. Even so, she doesn’t want to be lonely, and she knows boy is ga-ga over her. So, with tiny nods of affection, and open-ended answers, here-and-there, she keeps him interested. This makes him—of course—dig her even more, since she comes across as elusive and hard to get. The end of the road here doesn’t result in a picture-perfect sunset—but, more often than not, heartbreak. If you’re worried that someone is curving you, here’s what you need to know so you can grow a backbone, ASAP.

What is Curving?

A definition of curving is complicated, since it can take on many forms within the dating sphere. Dating expert and senior manager at PeopleLooker, Chris Vitale explains that in curving, the other person rejects you in a manner that’s so deceptive, you nearly don’t even see it as rejection. How so? Well, it’s usually a slow-burn type of deal. When a person is curving you, they don’t initiate text messages. Or they wait days—or even a week!—to respond to those infuriating blue bubbles. “When they do, their response consists of a reason for their delayed response, and a promise to ‘see you soon.’ Of course, the soon never transpires,” Vitale continues. “They never tell you directly that they are no longer interested in seeing you. They are intentionally stringing you along as a way to boost their ego.”

It’s sort of like stringing someone along—but often, the relationship hasn’t even progressed enough to be at that level. Rather, it’s sort of like an ongoing texting convo, or a ‘meet up for drinks’ once a month, that sends a lot of mixed signals.

Where the Term ‘Curving’ Came From

There’s no official origin to the roots of ‘curving,’ but a few theories have sparked internet discussions. Psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. suggests that ‘curving’ became a thing when it was used in a GQ article to describe the cold shoulder Rihanna seemed to give Drake at the MTV Video Music Awards, when he was rumored to be head over heels for her.  Sexpert and relationship columnist at Sssh.com, Coleen Singer says it could also date back a bit further, as being introduced by BroBible. Here, they defined curving as the swag term for getting rejected or shut down: “Any time you’ve been bamboozled, hoodwinked, or straight up played by a member of the opposite sex, you most likely got curved.”

Why Curving Matters

Well, because it’s pretty sucky no matter which way you tilt it: curving someone is cruel, and being curved is painful. Vitale says being aware of this dating trend will make it less likely you find yourself in the middle of a curve ball you never asked for. “It’s a manipulative and cruel psychological game that daters play when they string someone along. If you aren’t familiar, you may experience the signs, but are unclear as to what is actually happening,” he explains.  

From a social perspective, being mindful of curving gives you the opportunity to call out your buddies, when they’re leading someone on, and challenge you to be more straightforward about your feelings. He explains that therapists who have been studying phenomena like curving believe it’s an illustration of how society is getting worse at rejection and conflict management. “It shows a lack of respect for the person who is being curved. It shows that the other person doesn’t value them enough to be honest with them regarding their intentions. It can leave the one who is being curved confused and feeling lied to. It’s also a waste of time and energy on the part of the person who is being curved,” he continues. “They spend days, maybe weeks, waiting for the other to follow through on a future date when they can make better use of that energy spending time with someone who genuinely wants to be with them.”

Where You Might Hear Curving

Whether it comes up on conversation with your pals or you read about it on Instagram, chances are high you’ll come across the concept of curving sooner than later. Singer says an example might be when your friend is cyber-stalking a gal he likes and can’t figure out why she’s active online but not with him: “She tweeted 230 times, but has not responded to my texts. Do you thinks she is curving me?”

Dr. Thomas also shares that your buddy could talk about it in the aftermath, when explaining what happened to that girl he dated. “She kept curving on me when I asked him how she really felt about me,” she gives as an example.

How to Use It In Conversation

Curving is the act of keeping someone at your beck-and-call, but never ringing them. Being curved is what happens when someone does this to you. You can use either of these in conversation and no one will bat an eye to what you’re talking about. Vitale explains a conversation that might go as follows:

“Lucy will go a week without texting me, then she’ll text that she has been really busy and hopes to get together soon. But, then, I won’t hear from her again for another week.  This has been going on for three months now and we have yet to meet up.”

“John, I’m sorry, but it seems as though Lucy is curving you, and he has no intention of meeting up.”

Notable Curving Quotes

Oftentimes, confronting someone who is curving will result in them ghosting you. For instance, I finally didn’t let my love interest change the subject on me when I asked about going on a real date, and he just stopped replying to my texts. #Byeeeeee.” —Brittany Cox

“Curving can be used in a few different contexts, but it’s most commonly used to convey a disinterest in someone you’re either dating or have no desire to date (someone who may be bidding for your affection). Someone who has been ‘curved’ is not necessarily having smoke blown up their ass, but is clearly being ignored or denounced.” —Kiarra Sylvester

“…when this kind of behaviour becomes habitual, and you find yourself spending more time waiting for this person to reply then actually engaging in conversation with them, you know they’re taking you for a ride, and a curvy one at that.” —Olivia Petter

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