Runging: The dating trend where you purposely go for those ‘below’ you

Lifestyle

Have you ever seen an absolute worldie (yes, there are still people in 2020 using that word) walking down the street with someone who – let’s face it – isn’t remotely in their league?

This worldie may just be runging, which is a dating term we’ve coined to describe when a person is conscious of their attractiveness and purposely ‘dates down’.

You may date without ever thinking about things like this, but outsiders use terms like ‘punching above their weight’ or ‘out of their league’.

Everybody has qualities that make them attractive to other people. One person’s snog or marry is another person’s avoid.

That said, it’s hard not to notice a difference in success or attractiveness between partners.

This can lead to a feeling of ‘luck’ or being ‘thankful’ that a person considered ‘better’ than you wants to be your partner.

It’s a damaging mindset to have if it’s based on a lack of self-esteem, but the awareness isn’t always bad. Just look at Darren Doneghy, who won a dream honeymoon for him and wife Kate after scooping the ‘punching above your weight’ prize back in 2015.

As long as you understand that your partner loves you for you – regardless of whatever you may perceive the outside world thinks – then it shouldn’t be a problem.

Rungers, however, are acutely aware of this invisible ladder, and purposely punch below their weight off the back of it.

Perhaps when swiping on dating apps you specifically avoid people you deem to be ‘too’ attractive, and enjoy feeling like you have the upper hand in a subconscious way?

Maybe you find yourself continually dating people who aren’t intellectually stimulating to you, but instead of looking for someone you feel is more equal or helping your partner learn, you like this unbalanced status quo?

If these things ring true for you, you may be a runger, heading down that ladder so you’re always the one up a level.

Head of Trends at happn Marine Ravinet tells Metro.co.uk, ‘When it comes to attraction, most people have their own idea of what they are looking for in a prospective partner. Some people hone in on looks, whilst others place more value on intelligence or traits such as sporting or career success.

‘Who we are attracted to is often down to our subconscious and we all have a different type which is what makes finding a partner so exciting – beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. However, if some people are deliberately going after a partner who they deem ‘less attractive’ or ‘less successful’ they may need to question why this is.’

There are many reasons why people might choose to do this. They may love to be worshipped, and subtly hint at their intelligence or looks to make their partner feel lucky to have them.

If you’ve ever seen the film The DUFF (designated ugly fat friend), you’ll know it’s not above certain people to surround themselves with those they deem lesser to make them look better in comparison.

The runger may also want the sense of security that comes with this. If they think their partner is grateful to have them around, then they may not expect them to look elsewhere.

A survey by cringe-inducing dating show Your Face or Mine found that a third of men believe they are “punching above their weight” in the relationship stakes, compared with just 18% of women.

The term ‘hypogamy’ – which means to ‘marry down’ – is also reported to becoming more prevalent in countries where caste systems or rigid social classes were in place for centuries.

On the topic of hypogamy, Varkha Chulani, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist told the Times of India that it was becoming more common from women: ‘Sometimes even the fear of rejection or losing a loved one could make women marry down as they would rather see their partner insecure and themselves as more important in the relationship.

‘Also, some women may believe if they are with someone at a higher level, they may not be emotionally as available and may fear loneliness.’

But although you might be easing your fears in the moment, it’s not only an insult to your partner, it’s also shooting yourself in the foot in terms of your future.

Marine tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It may make them feel better in the short term, perhaps getting extra attention or thinking their partner is less likely to stray if they are “punching above their weight”.

‘However, it doesn’t provide the basis of a healthy relationship as equals, and they should not be thought of as a competition.’

It’s easier said than done, and although runging is far from a noble act, it’ll likely be coming from the insecurity that you have to use looks or standing to make someone stick around.

In short, that’s a you problem.

You need to work on why you lack the confidence to be with someone who you see as your equal, and how to work through that.

Think about how this behaviour feels for your partner. While they may have the initial joy or scoring someone great, put yourself in their shoes and see just how upset they’d be if they knew you thought so little of them.

The solution is to either break up with them and let them be with someone who doesn’t think of them as unworthy, or to focus on what brought you to them in the first place.

‘When it comes to picking a partner, we should be looking for someone based on a connection, not who makes us “look or feel better” because on paper they may be perceived as “less” attractive than you,’ says Marine.

‘Whilst looks undoubtedly play a part, attraction is based on so much more than looks and it is more important to be with someone who you have common ground, shared principles and similar life goals and of course, you enjoy spending time with.’