If you aren’t already aware what clownery is when we’re talking about it in terms of dating and relationships, I think you can at least tell it’s not a GOOD thing. You would be right about that – clownery is behaviour that we’ve all done, but we all knew we totally shouldn’t be doing.

Before you say it – yep, clownery is also a meme outside of dating culture. When I was trying to find the excellent clown memes for you, I found a lot that were for other topics like workplace issues, film commentary and so on.

But when it comes to dating, clownery is a new term altogether. I can’t tell you who coined it, but I can tell you the place I heard it first was via the Bobo & Flex podcast community. If you’re not across, Bobo & Flex is a goddamn great life/relationships podcast you should get into.

Basically, clownery is any behaviour within the context of dating, sex and relationships that you know is bad for you/fundamentally stupid, but you do it anyway, either with the misguided hope that the outcome will be positive, or with full understanding that the outcome will be horrendous.

This can be everything from sleeping with your shitty ex to making excuses for someone who clearly doesn’t give a shit about you.

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I’ve seen it most in conversations among women, but it’s not exclusively a female conversation.

To help you get across peak clownery, I’ve rounded up some of the most common forms. Don’t worry, this is a no judgement zone – we’ve all put on our clown makeup at some point, lord knows I do it REGULARLY.

1. Hitting Up Someone Douchey For Sex

Casual sex? Hell yeah. No-strings fuck buddy? Extreme mood. Hitting up that guy/girl who treats you terribly and who you frankly have real feelings for but just pretend you don’t? CLOWNERY.

Clownery is all about lying to yourself, and you are always lying to yourself when you go for a dick appointment with someone who doesn’t treat you with respect thinking it’ll be a fun time. It never is.

2. Competing

A form of peak clownery is competing for someone’s affection, whether you’re competing with their other priorities like work, friends or “alone time”, or with another person who is also interested in them.

Not that you need to be priority #1 from the first date, but if you’re bending into a pretzel to find space in their week to see them, or feel like they play you off some other girl/guy in your friendship circle for example, fuckkkkkk that. You’re better than that, and you do yourself a disrespect by engaging.

3. Explaining Away Upsetting Behaviours

If your gut is saying your partner’s friendship with their ex is way too intimate, or you keep excusing things like someone never initiating text convos or never organising dates, that’s clownery. Why? Because you’re not speaking up for yourself and addressing the issues that are hurting you constantly.

It’s irrelevant whether you’re right or wrong, the point is you’re hurting and someone you care about is making you feel that way. The right thing to do is voice your concerns and come to an understanding together, whether you realise you were being irrational or whether they pull their head in.

4. Constantly Returning To A Bad Ex

Now, some relationships can have a second run and work out. Even a third run. But someone has to have changed, genuinely.

Going back to an ex who hasn’t changed shit, or when you haven’t changed a bit is a recipe for disaster and we all bloody know it – so if you drink the dumb bitch juice and do it anyway, that’s clownery baby.

5. Going For The Same Shitty Person

Similar, but different is when you consistently choose the same type of person – be it a struggling artist with self esteem issues who lives in an 8 person sharehouse, or a flaky career-focused douchelord – and expect a different type of relationship time and time again.

You can’t categorise people, but if you refuse to read the signs – that someone focused completely on themselves/their career will never prioritise you, for example – then you’re putting your clown makeup on.

6. Catching Feelings When The Situation Clearly Says No Feelings

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*cackles in clownery*

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This is kind of like #1, but more about when you enter into a casual thing with someone where the rules are very clearly that it’s low-key and no strings, but then you start reading deeply into things they say or do as “signs they are actually into me”.

In one of those casual hook up scenarios, unless someone is saying “I like you and want to date you”, you should always just assume their feelings are casual-only and if you start catching feelings, end it before you get hurt.

7. Blaming Other People For Your Bad Outcome

When a relationship or dating-thing goes to shit, sometimes it IS the fault of the other person. But rarely is it the fault of anyone else besides you and the person you were dating/kinda dating/whatever. However! Because we don’t want to ruin the image we’ve made in our heads of this perfect person who broke our heart, we go “it’s their exes fault” or “it’s because of that stupid guy who keeps commenting on his pics”.

NO. The thing is, sure people can manipulate others but the likelihood is the dude/girl you were dating is trash, and if they were hooking up with their ex/DMing people on social media/hanging out with their mates 24 hours a day it’s because it was their choice to do so. Clownery is placing blame on everyone else in their life without acknowledging that they have agency themselves and can make their own decisions.

8. Showing Up To Places Where You Know The Person You Like Will Be

Okay, I think this is fine if a) you were personally invited or b) if it makes sense for you to rock up to that party/birthday/whatever.

But when you make up some dodgy excuse for why it’s “normal” for you to show up at a grime gig when you only listen to Miley Cyrus, oh and LOOK AT THAT the guy you’ve had a crush on just happens to be there because it’s his fave grime rapper… CLOWNERY. Clown makeup – on.

9. Chaotic Sexual Health Energy

We’ve all been there ok? Just like, being all yeahhhhh let’s not use condoms even though we’re absolutely not exclusive/I have NFI who else you’ve been fucking, or just “seeing what happens” when you’re not on The Pill and totally in the middle of your cycle.

I’m not judging bc I’m a dumb bitch too who has done this (my fave was giving up the condom use bc the guy I was dating “seemed” like he would have been tested recently, fml) but it’s total clownery to be reckless when it comes to sexual health and pregnancy, bc the worst possible scenario involves STIs that can make you infertile/never leave your body, or an unwanted baby – I’m 10000% pro-choice but the ideal scenario is just not getting up the duff unless you’re keen to be. And condoms can help with that!

10. Getting Fucked Up When You’re Emotionally Vulnerable

Now if there was one of these top 10 clownery examples that we’ve all a billion percent chance done in our lives, it’s this. Getting on the sauce when you’re vulnerable and sad, so you get more vulnerable and sad.

Nothing good comes of this. At best, you cry in public and go home to cry some more. At worst, you cry on your ex’s doorstep, call then 450 times, leave 3 insane voice messages and 5 essay-length texts.

If you’re feeling sad, by all means go party – but if you start feeling more and more shit while you’re out my advice is call it a night before you have a public breakdown.