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15 Signs of Cookie Jarring and How to Deal with it

Last updated on October 9, 2022 by Kelsey Willows

You might have doubts about the guy you’ve been seeing. Do you think he might be seeing somebody else? Or are you simply worried that he’s just not that into you?

If this is the case, you may be being cookie jarred. Cookie Jarring is a new trend where you essentially date somebody as a backup.

It’s important to recognize this as it can massively lower your self-confidence if you find yourself in a situation where it feels like you are somebody’s second option! You should make sure when dating that you are on the same page, and are entering an honest relationship. If you are dating other people, it’s important to be truthful about where you stand, and in turn, your reasoning for wanting to continue to date. 

What is Cookie Jarring?

Although the term ‘cookie jarring’ is relatively new, the concept definitely isn’t. It is a new dating trend that has been brought to the surface by dating shows like Love Island where you’re essentially a fallback option for your ‘partner’

You wouldn’t be in a committed relationship as such, but you would at least be at the stage where you’re pursuing one another. When a person is cookie jarring you, it primarily means that they’re either in another more serious relationship, or are in the development stages of one, and they are simply keeping you interested as a backup

Love Island is a dating/social experiment that consists of ‘couples’; the goal in mind is to seek a genuine connection with your partner that will last beyond the show. Of course, each couple is tested by new contestants, a lack of trust, and so on, but the ultimate test is when the male contestants are sent to casa amor; this is where the cookie jarring begins!

They have no contact with the girls back at the villa, and both the girls and the boys are introduced to a brand new set of people or in other words, options. Most of the contestants develop new relationships for a couple of reasons but mainly to have a backup in case their partner finds someone new, or simply to see if the grass is greener, testing the water to see where things could lead. 

Is It Casual Dating or Are You Being Cookie Jarred?

Firstly, it’s important to understand your situationship. Is it casual dating or is it cookie jarring? Is he dating multiple people? Do you feel like you’re someone’s backup option? Or is this a potential partner? 

If you’re having doubts, then there’s a possibility that he is still dating other women, a competition of sorts that you’re completely unaware of. The best solution is to be honest about these doubts; talk to him and have a conversation about it. If you feel any hesitation from him then that can be taken as a strong signal that he’s either cookie jarring you, or simply not committed to the idea of a future with you. 

Casual dating is all about intention, but regardless of your intentions, you’ll both usually know where you stand. You’re able to keep your options open without cookie jarring someone. To cookie jar is to purposefully have a backup plan with no intention of them being your first choice. 

15 Signs of Cookie Jarring

1. He tells you directly.

The first and most obvious sign of cookie jarring is to be told. This may be as simple as him telling you he’s still on dating apps, or he might even tell you that he’s married or is in a relationship and is planning on leaving his wife/girlfriend. 

Of course, this isn't absolute, and there may be other reasons why he hasn’t left his wife yet, but you’re most likely being cookie jarred. It’s easier said than done, but to avoid future hurt, the best thing to do in this situation is to have a very serious conversation or to immediately end the relationship. 

2. You suspect he’s in a relationship.

you suspect he's in a relationship

You might have noticed that he avoids certain places or areas whilst you go out, and things may not make a lot of sense like his schedule, or you may notice a couple of white lies; all of which are highly problematic in the development stages of a relationship. You might have even questioned him about it but he got defensive and argumentative in response. 

3. He’s unreliable with plans.

He may be all here for making plans, but these turn out to be more stories with no follow-through. If you are in a cookie jar relationship, he is likely to cancel on you to spend time with his other options or love interests. 

This isn’t only a sign that you are in a toxic dating situation, but it shows you with clarity that you are the second choice. Rather than spending time waiting for him to become more reliable, consider ending things and start exploring other options yourself. Get back to online dating and have fun trying to find a future partner rather than focusing your time on someone who doesn’t put you first.

4. He doesn’t make much effort.

You may feel like you’re the only one making the effort to keep your situationship afloat. Plans are only made at your own suggestions, you are the first to text or call or you don’t ever do anything fun; you may be stuck in a boring routine with no feeling of hope that this may change.

Whether you’re being cookie jarred or any of the many dating terms that exist, you should never have to deal with the feeling that you’re the only person making an effort.

When most people start dating, the effort made can slowly decline as the two of you become more comfortable, but this shouldn’t ever get to the point where you feel as though you’re the only one working towards your future together. If he makes no effort, this can be because he is directing his efforts and energy to someone else.

5. He only makes you feel special now and then.

Remember, to cookie jar someone is the toxic dating trend where you keep a second option as a backup. The key word here is keep. I say this, as although he may make little effort, or is unreliable, he still wants to maintain your relationships for selfish reasons. 

Because of this, now and then he’ll do what he can to make you feel special. You aren’t someone that he’s completely disregarded, and he’s not exactly waiting to break up with you. He simply doesn’t intend to put you first.

For you to exist as an option for him, he’ll occasionally push the boat out and go out of his way to make you feel wanted. This may be via gifts or words. The best way to acknowledge this is to think about whether or not his affectionate words compare to his actions, and whether it’s consistent.

6. You’re not a major part of his life.

A major warning sign can be that you’re not a big part of his life. Of course, if you’re casually dating somebody you might not have met the parents just yet. But you will have most likely met a couple of friends, and are somewhat a part of his life and routine. 

It would be problematic if you hadn’t met any friends, family, or work colleagues and if you haven’t been out socially together. In this particular context, this could mean that someone else is filling that role and that your cookie jarrer wants to keep you separate from his real life. He might even come up with excuses as to why you aren’t involved, and this is where the white lies fall into play. 

7. You don’t spend a lot of time together.

you don't spend a lot of time together

Regardless of your schedule, if you find that you barely spend time together, it’s possible that he’s spending time with someone else that he deems more important. If you were his priority, he would make the time or be open about the issues.

Is it like pulling teeth getting him to spend time with you?
The key to solving is understanding men on a much deeper emotional level. The number #1 factor that causes men to behave this way is actually relatively easy to change with a few subtle things you can say to him.

Take this quick quiz to see if he actually likes you!

In Love Island, cookie jarring is caused by the lack of time spent together. The contestants use their freedom to begin pursuing other candidates, going on a date or two, and essentially finding out if there is another worthy love interest in the villa. 

8. You rarely go out together in public.

You may find that your date night is spent in private, away from locations where you might be seen. This could be a major warning sign that you are being cookie jarred. If he is dating other women, he will do what he can to keep this a secret. He might call you in the middle of the night or arrange weekend trips away, but he will never risk the two of you being seen.

9. He doesn’t answer his phone in front of you.

This one is important to view in context. If he doesn’t answer his phone or even ignores phone calls whilst he’s with you, it’s possible that he’s hiding something from you. He could be exploring his options and dating multiple people; remember, the whole idea of cookie jarring is that he wants to keep you as a second choice. 

10. He’s still on dating apps.

If he is exploring other options he’s likely to have a dating profile or two. The best solution if in doubt is to talk to him and ask. If you feel yourself doubting him even then, you have to consider that this might not be a relationship worth pursuing in the first place. 

If you already know that he’s on dating apps, pause and assess the situation. Has he blatantly told you that you’re not his first choice? Or has he led you to believe that you may have a future together; if the latter, he should not be in the process of pursuing other women.

11. You’re saved as something odd in his phone.

A sign of being cookie jarred can be something as simple as how you’re saved in his phone. If you’re not his first choice but he’s still stringing you along, he’s likely to be dating someone else.

This may cause him to save you as something odd or ambiguous in his phone, like an emoji, or shorten your name from ‘Nicola’ to ‘Nick’, to avoid any confrontation over having another female in his phone. 

12. He doesn’t post you on social media.

Not all people flaunt the person they’re dating on social media but if you’ve been dating for a while and you still haven’t made it to his Instagram, if you are sure it’s not because he’s a private person, then there is a chance he can still be/or be open to dating other people. Consider discussing this with him.

13. He gets jealous but won’t do anything about it.

If you’re both aware that you’re dating other people, you may find that he gets jealous of the idea of you with another person, but he won’t do anything about it. He’s scared of you leaving, but he cannot commit to making you stay. He might persuade you with physical intimacy or with words of affection but his actions will never be as you desire until he fully commits himself to you. 

He may even act out, with no actual reason behind it. You see this all the time on Love Island; contestants go on dates with newbies to explore their options and there’s a reason this causes great TV entertainment. If you watched the summer 2016 Love Island you will remember Scott and Kady; they split a year after filming. Scott was chosen to go on a date with a newcomer as Kady was banished away to the hideaway and she went ballistic.

Many viewers disagreed with Kadys’ behavior as the whole purpose of the show is essentially to cookie jar and to seek a potential partner in somebody else, however, this goes to show how toxic this dating trend can be.

14. He avoids serious conversations.

he avoids serious conversations

This one can be a bit tricky. Most people cookie jar others to have an extra layer of security, and the aim is to keep several options at once. But, if you aren’t his first and only choice, you may find that he avoids serious conversations. Before coming to this conclusion, though, consider that some people can take a while to open up.

You’ll have gotten to know each other enough to establish that you are more than friends, but he isn’t likely to talk about his emotions and he’ll most likely avoid the topic of a relationship altogether.

15. He never talks about your future together.

If he’s interested, you’ll have spoken about a potential future with one another. This is where it’s important to know the difference between casual dating and the early stages of dating. You may find that some men (and women!) avoid talking about the future in general, as it scares a lot of people. But if you’re sure you are at the stage in your relationship where the two of you would normally feel ready to progress and he still isn’t ready to talk about your future together, then it’s possible that he could be cookie-jarring you.

He Is Seeing Someone Else, What Do I Do Now?

Okay, so now you’ve established that you’re being cookie jarred, what’s the next step? I would say that it depends on how much you care about him. I know that sounds weird to say but hear me out. Do you genuinely like this guy? And is he worth fighting for? If not, the obvious solution is to get rid of him and avoid having any more of your energy wasted.

However, if you genuinely like him and you’re disappointed to be his second choice, you can be as honest as you like about your feelings, or you can do more to show him how interested you are. 

There’s a time to give up, of course. You deserve to be treated better. But it would be wrong of me to not advise you to fight for someone who you believe is worth fighting for. Again, look at Love Island. When the contestants are rejoined, some relationships come out of the other side much stronger, and more sure about their future together. 

How to Tell a Guy You’re Dating Someone Else

If the shoe is on the other foot, and you think that you’re cookie-jarring somebody yourself, the best solution is to be upfront with him and tell him. Think about if it was the other way around, you’d want to be told, wouldn’t you? It might feel scary, but the only way you can move forward is to tell the truth. This will also encourage you to be happier and more confident in the final choice that you made.

My suggestion would be to tell him in person. Arrange to meet up for a drink or a coffee, and get straight to the point. Realistically, if you’ve only been casually dating then it shouldn’t feel too harsh when coming clean. Ultimately, not much harm can be done. You’re allowed to date several people at once, it’s just not always a nice conversation when ending things. I always say, think about how you would want to be treated, and show that same respect.

FAQs 

What is paperclipping in dating?

Paperclipping is essentially where someone uses you to feel better about themselves. It’s usually when an ex displays short-term interest to help boost their ego, when this is fulfilled they will leave, and only come back when they begin to feel insecure again.

The truth is it can be hard to forget about past relationships, and so naturally we cling on to our exes which, of course, is highly problematic. It’s best to remember that no matter how hard it is, you have broken up for a reason and you won’t begin to feel better until you’re past the grieving stage; so let yourself grieve. The sooner it’s over, the happier you’ll be long-term.

What is stashing in dating?

Stashing is a dating term used to describe when your partner essentially hides you. You will be in a serious relationship, but he excludes you from crucial aspects of his life, like his friends and family. This is a warning sign of cookie jarring, only stashing is usually a term that describes an actual relationship.

It becomes problematic when you begin to feel isolated from your partner due to missing out on such a big part of their life. Open up an honest conversation, and ultimately find out the cause. Is he embarrassed? Is he scared of commitment? Once you establish the problem together you will be able to work on this.

What is benching in dating?

The act of benching is in the name, when he puts you on the bench and is keeping you on the sideline. There may be several reasons for this, the main one being that he’s not ready to commit. It isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, as taking extra precautions before committing to a partner can be sensible. It will become a problem when he changes how he acts with you. If it is hindering your relationship rather than simply postponing it, it’s probably time to end things.

Do hookups ever turn into relationships?

Absolutely. But that’s not to say that you should rely on a relationship blossoming with your friend with benefits. The beauty of hookups is the relaxed vibe created by the two of you being casual. This can be a great start for a relationship as it allows the two of you to get to know each other without the pressure and the formality of dating.

To Conclude

Whether you are a victim of cookie jarring, or you are cookie jarring someone else, the best solution to this toxic dating trend is to be honest with your partner(s). It’s okay to have options, especially in the early stages of dating, as long as you’re both truthful about your feelings and both have a thorough understanding of where you stand with each other, not much can go wrong. If you aren’t on the same page, it’s about taking the courage to step away and seek better opportunities!

Did you enjoy reading through this list? Then feel free to comment below and share this with those who will benefit from it. Best of luck in your relationship journey!

Do you feel like all you think about is him, but he only thinks about himself?
This doesn't mean he doesn't like you. You have to understand how he is wired. Once you do, you'll find there is a subtle thing you can say that to him that will drastically change how he shows his emotions towards you.

Take this quick quiz that looks at whether he actually likes you or not!

Kelsey Willows
As a woman in our world, I’ve dreamed of becoming a writer to essentially help women! I think it’s important to normalize topics that are considered taboo, especially within relationships and sex! I have always been a shoulder to cry on, whether that’s to a close friend or even to a woman scorned in the bathroom of a nightclub! I give balanced advice, and encourage those to look at a situation from several points of view. I recently graduated from Salford University in England where I wrote my final dissertation on gender representations in adaptations of pride and prejudice for film and TV, and alongside this have been writing a novel. Again, normalizing the want for pleasure as a woman, and the need of a healthy relationship.

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