Are you a sweet treat tucked inside a cookie jar?

A new term in the world of romantic relationships is stirring up conversations – cookie jarring. This concept might sound sweet and innocent. But it’s far from a sugary reality. It refers to a situation where a new partner keeps you as a backup while they continue to look for other potential partners. It’s the human equivalent of keeping a cookie jar: a reserve to dip into when there’s nothing more appealing on the table.

Understanding this behavior is crucial, not just for your emotional well-being but also to maintain the health of your relationship. 

Recognizing the Signs Your Partner Is Keeping You in the Cookie Jar

Let’s look into the signs indicating your partner is cookie-jarring you and discuss how to address this issue with poise and confidence.

cookie jarring

1. Inconsistency in Communication May Mean Cookie Jarring

One day, they’re all over you with messages, calls, and plans. The next, they’re as silent as a ghost town. Take note if your partner’s communication pattern is unpredictable. Also, pay attention if their actions leave you wondering when you’ll hear from them next.

Imagine this: Sarah waits eagerly for Tom’s texts, which, when they come, are like sunshine on a cloudy day. But then, silence ensues for days, leaving her in the dark, confused and anxious. This roller coaster of communication is a classic sign of cookie jarring. It’s as if Sarah is on standby, only attended to when convenient for Tom. If your partner’s texting habits or calls are sporadic and leave you guessing, it’s a sign that you might not be the only one they’re ‘texting goodnight.’

2. Evasive About the Future Could Mean You’re in the Cookie Jar

When the topic of plans comes up, they quickly change the subject. It could be a red flag if your partner avoids discussing anything beyond the immediate future.

Consider the case of Mike and Linda. Whenever Linda brings up the idea of a summer vacation or even holiday plans, Mike swiftly steers the conversation to the weather or a new TV show. This evasion hints that Mike may not see a long-term future with Linda. If your partner dodges conversations about plans consistently, their commitment to the relationship is worth pondering.

3. Your Partner Rarely Initiates Plans

You find yourself constantly being the one to suggest getting together. If your partner seems passive about spending time with you, it’s worth questioning why.

Emily constantly checks her calendar to schedule dates with John, who seems content to go along but never takes the initiative. This lack of effort in planning time together can be a telltale sign of cookie jarring. If you’re always the planner and your partner is just along for the ride, they might keep their schedule open for other possibilities.

4. Social Media Silence Could Reveal Cookie Jarring

Despite being active on social media, your partner rarely acknowledges your relationship online. Consider it a warning sign if there’s a reluctance to post pictures with you or engage with your content.

Alex and Jordan are all smiles in person, but online, Alex’s social media pages show no trace of their relationship. Suppose your partner is an active social media user but conspicuously silent about your relationship. In that case, keeping their options open to others scrolling through their profile might be a deliberate choice.

5. Friends and Family are Off-Limits in Cookie Jarring

You haven’t met their close friends or family members, and there’s no hint that introductions will happen anytime soon. Being kept away from their inner circle is not a good sign.

When Leah suggests meeting Sam’s friends or family after months of dating, Sam quickly says they’re just private people. But deep down, Leah feels like she’s being kept a secret. Being excluded from significant aspects of your partner’s life can strongly indicate that you’re not the main act but a sideshow.

6. They’re Guarded with Their Phone

If your partner is overly secretive with their phone, it might indicate hiding something or someone from you.

Jenna notices that Mark angles his phone away whenever she’s around, and his replies become vague and delayed. This secretive behavior can signal that Mark is juggling conversations with Jenna and someone else. If your partner treats their phone like top-level classified information, they may be trying to prevent you from seeing evidence of cookie jarring.

7. You Feel Like an Option, Not a Priority

This behavior can often be the most telling sign. If you often feel like you’re just one of many options they have, trust your instincts.

Every time Kevin and Rachel make plans, Kevin has a vague excuse to cancel at the last minute. Rachel can’t shake the feeling that Kevin awaits a better offer before committing to their plans. Feeling like a backup plan is perhaps the most poignant sign of cookie jarring. If you often feel like you’re just one of several options, it’s a significant red flag that you should not simply ignore.

Each of these behaviors, especially when forming a consistent pattern, can indicate cookie jarring. It’s essential to approach the situation thoughtfully and considerately but also with the self-respect and assertiveness needed to ensure your partner can meet your emotional needs.

Addressing Cookie Jarring With Your Partner (and Taking Care of Yourself!)

cookie jarring

Realizing that you’re being cookie-jarred can be a tough cookie to swallow. But, it’s essential to approach the situation with a level head.  Here’s how you can get out of the cookie jar:

Communicate Your Feelings About the Cookie Jarring

Opening up a dialogue about your concerns is a delicate but necessary process. It’s about expressing your feelings with honesty and vulnerability. For instance, you might say, “I feel anxious and undervalued when I don’t know when I’ll hear from you next,” instead of “You never text me first.” This approach focuses on your feelings rather than placing blame, which can help your partner understand your perspective without becoming defensive. It’s about creating an environment where you feel safe sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Set Boundaries to Shatter the Cookie Jar

Setting boundaries is an act of self-respect. It’s about knowing what you are comfortable with and are not and making these limits known to your partner. For example, you might say, “I need to feel like a priority in your life, so I can’t continue in a relationship where our plans are constantly in flux.” Setting clear boundaries allows your partner to adjust their behavior accordingly. You also empower yourself to make decisions based on your well-being.

Seek Clarity

Clarity in a relationship is like a roadmap; it helps you understand where you are heading. Asking your partner, “What are your intentions with our relationship?” or “Do you see us becoming more serious?” can give you the insight you need to decide your next steps. Knowing if your partner’s vision aligns with yours is essential so you’re not left navigating the relationship without a clear destination.

Reflect on Your Worth

Reflecting on your worth means taking a step back and recognizing your value. It’s about affirming to yourself, “I deserve a relationship where I am the main choice, not an option.” This self-reflection is crucial because it helps you to internalize your worth and make choices that align with it. Remember, a partner who truly values you will make you feel cherished and secure, not uncertain and dispensable.

Be Prepared to Walk Away from the Cookie Jar

Preparing to walk away is perhaps the most challenging yet empowering step. It means recognizing that you deserve a commitment your current partner may not be willing to give. If you’ve communicated your feelings, set boundaries, sought clarity, and still find yourself treated as an option, consider leaving the relationship. Your emotional health is paramount; sometimes, walking away is the healthiest choice.

Seek Support from A Friend or Counselor After Cookie Jarring

Seeking support is about not going through this alone. Whether it’s a trusted friend, a family member, or a professional counselor, having someone to talk to can provide comfort and guidance. They can offer a fresh perspective or listen when you need to voice your concerns. Support systems are invaluable; they can help you process your feelings and reinforce your decision-making process.

Focus on Self-Care After Cookie Jarring

Focusing on self-care means putting your well-being at the forefront. It’s about doing things that nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Whether reading a book, taking a yoga class, or simply enjoying a quiet walk, these activities can help you maintain your sense of self and boost your happiness. Self-care is a reminder that your happiness depends not solely on your relationship status but also on how you treat and care for yourself.

cookie jar

Final Thoughts on Being Aware You’re in the Cookie Jar

Awareness of the signs of cookie jarring is the first step in addressing this modern dating dilemma. Communicating effectively, setting boundaries, and prioritizing your emotional health are keys to breaking this behavior. You learn to navigate the complexities of your relationship with grace and self-respect. Remember, you deserve to be the star of the show, not a backup dancer.