What Is Mid-Mute Dating? The Toxic Trend of the Digital Age
Love in the age of dating apps and social media is tricky to navigate. It's never been easier to meet new people—after all, it takes only a swipe—but that doesn't mean it is easy to build and maintain a strong, genuine connection.
Now, it seems there's another new toxic digital dating trend to watch out for, one where you seemingly get ghosted, but then they're back.
This may sound familiar to you. This on-again, off-again ghosting pattern became a dating trend this past spring, with relationship experts dubbing it "mid-mute dating."
'While we can all get overwhelmed by incoming messages and notifications, when someone you are dating develops a habit of muting you every week, it's important to take note.'
Similar to ghosting, mid-mute dating occurs when someone puts you on mute to avoid your messages for some time, before reappearing a few days later.
The trend was first coined by dating expert and founder of Wingman, Tina Wilson.
"Mid-muting is when the person you are dating mutes your notifications, commonly during the mid-week, as they only see you as a weekend thing," she told Glamour magazine.
We get it. People get busy and distracted by their work. But while you may be tempted to forgive someone for constantly ignoring your messages during the week, Wilson warned the trend is a dangerous one.
Mid-mute dating defined
Mid-mute dating occurs when someone routinely puts the people they date on mute so their notifications don't appear on their phone.
While we can all get overwhelmed by incoming messages and notifications, when someone you are dating develops a habit of muting you every week, it's important to take note.
"Mid-mute dating, or being put on mute by someone you are seeing for a short period of time, can be a sign that the person is not fully invested in the relationship or that they are distracted by other things," said Martha Tara Lee, D.H.S., a relationship counselor and clinical sexologist with Eros Coaching in Singapore. "It is important to note that occasional distractions and interruptions are normal in any relationship, but if it becomes a pattern, it may be a cause for concern."
Is the muting of notifications always a red flag? No, according to Michelle Shivers, L.M.F.T., a licensed marriage and family therapist in San Antonio.
"People can use mid-mute dating for multiple reasons, but if we think positively, the person is genuinely busy and prefers to not be disturbed," she said.
However, if you are consistently being muted, this can be a sign the other person isn't too committed and doesn't see the relationship going much further than it already has.
"Relationships are not made for Saturday and Sunday only," Shivers said. "Those who are serious about their partner would prefer to make time for them."
Mid-muting is occurring more and more frequently, especially in casual relationships, Shivers added.
Look out for the signs of mid-mute dating
As the person who's being muted, it can sometimes be difficult to identify the signs that it's happening. After all, there's no way of knowing if the other person has actively chosen to block your notifications or if they just haven't had a chance to reply to your messages.
Shivers suggested looking for the following patterns:
- There is a notable change in your partner's behavior.
- You notice decreased communication.
- Your partner avoids various topics and planning for the future.
- Your partner cancels plans often.
You might also begin to notice your partner doesn't open your messages during specific days of the week, which might indicate they have muted your notifications.
Why do people mid-mute the people they are dating?
While every relationship is different, there are several common reasons someone might make a habit out of muting their partner's notifications—and almost all of them are a bad sign for the relationship.
Shivers listed four reasons you may be mid-muted.
If you raise difficult topics in your text chats, your partner might be muting you to avoid discussing these topics.
"A person may also decide to avoid conflict by remaining silent or retreating if there are unresolved concerns or difficulties in the relationship," she said.
Fear of vulnerability
"Sharing thoughts or emotions with another person occasionally makes one feel uneasy or exposed," she said. "Even if they care about the other person, this might make them retreat or shut off."
Loss of interest
"If your partner is losing interest in you, they may prefer to do their work or put you on mute. This is a red flag," she said. "There is a chance your partner can put you on mute without any reason."
Relationship is casual
In casual relationships, people sometimes can't offer as much of a time commitment. Sometimes, both people might choose to block weekday notifications. If you're open about it, it might be a healthy way to set boundaries.
As Shivers explained, this kind of mid-mute dating where "you and your partner prioritize work more than the relationship because it doesn't have a long-term future" can sometimes work.
What should I do if I'm being mid-muted?
It's not a nice feeling to realize the person you're dating is actively avoiding your messages—especially if you're the kind of person who eagerly awaits a reply to every message you send.
Lee said the best thing to do is to be open with your partner about your suspicions and your feelings.
"If you suspect that you are being mid-muted, it is important to have an open and honest conversation with the person you are seeing about your concerns," she said. "This can help clarify their intentions and level of interest in the relationship."
You may end up realizing your partner simply has different communication habits and expectations. Or, you might discover your partner doesn't see the relationship developing further. In some cases, a discussion will help you and your partner reach a communication compromise.
"If they're not willing to address your concerns or make changes to their behavior, it may be time to reevaluate whether this relationship is right for you," Lee said.