In the modern dating world, there is now a new term, ‘fleabagging’, inspired by the award-winning British show Fleabag, featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
‘Fleabagging’ refers to a woman dating a man, knowing well he’s toxic and not right for her. Do single women in India find themselves caught in this trend too?
Fleabagging refers to a woman dating a man, knowing well that he’s toxic and not right for her. In fact, a dating website, Plenty of Fish, claimed that 63 per cent of women agree that they have engaged in fleabagging at least once in their lives.
So how do single women in our city fare as regards this trend? And what triggers this self-sabotaging behaviour in women? We try to find the answers.
Vennela Shankar, a 26-year-old law student from the city, recalls her traumatic experience of fleabagging. “I thought it was love. I used to think that the more challenges I faced and the more violence I tolerated, the greater my love would turn out to be,” she explains.
That illusion of love
Interestingly, women who have gone through this behaviour seem to share almost similar stories of dangling hopes that she’d be able to ‘fix him’, with the story carrying on for years.
Vaishnavi Sai, a 23-year-old pharma student, narrates the story of her close friend. “She was with someone who wasn’t even her boyfriend. They had a complicated relationship. He did not ever cut her down completely, but he didn’t commit to her either. He just left her ‘hanging’. And she didn’t let go either, hoping he’d change or because she feared she’ll never find anyone ‘like him’. It took her three years and a silly fight to finally snap out of it,” recalls Vaishnavi.
But apart from insecurities and pop-culture-fed delusions, what is it that really leads modern, educated and independent women into the rabbit hole of fleabagging?
Sandra Monteiro, a consulting psychologist, answers our burning question. “Women globally, and more so in the Indian scenario, have been nurtured into believing that they hold the key and the responsibility in maintaining relationships. Heartbreaks, separation and divorces are viewed as a failure of their personality rather than the failure of the relationship itself. This is a toxic thought process that has slowly become the collective unconscious of the women tribe. This also dangerously fuels self-esteem in women, making them believe they can mend a broken system-something that’s considered a victorious feminine quality,” says Sandra.
Distance between solitude and loneliness
One’s inability to sustain solitude as a self-caring and an enjoyable phase instead of looking at it as its ugly cousin, loneliness, can add to the toxic situation, says Sandra. “It all depends on the perception one cultivates. Women are bound by ideas that need to break barriers, and success is perceived only in terms of winning for herself and her partner, much like the unnecessary goal of breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ because that ceiling only keeps getting as high as you would like it to. Self-love and self-care,much ironically, are underrated characteristics, often considered undesirable in the popular power dynamics of unhealthy relationships. Attracting ‘wrong’ people often becomes a pattern,with unexpressed desires to conquer the previous failures to enhance one’s self-worth,” she elaborates.
Essentially, falling for the stereotypical ‘bad boy’ on Tinder or getting attracted to that brooding, emotionally detached fella you met once may be saying more about you than him. So instead of ‘fleabagging’, stayhome and watch another episode of that kickass series, Fleabag. You’ll at least have something to chuckle about....