Franchising: Everything You Should Know About This Toxic Dating Trend

Franchising might sound like something straight out of an economics textbook, but this trend actually have an application to the dating world. If you’re confused, read on for what this toxic behavior is all about and why it represents one of the worst types of cheating.

What is the franchising dating trend?

  1. What “franchising” means. Franchising is, as its economic counterpart term indicates, the situation when people have multiple families who are all unaware of each other. It derives from the economic concept of expanding a local company into a worldwide service with buildings all over the world. If you haven’t heard of this term before, it’s because this is a less common type of cheating, but is nonetheless terrible when it happens to you.
  2. How does it work? It is often a scheme that relies on a contextually facilitating fact. For example, that your partner “has to travel a lot for work.” This means that the “core” family doesn’t suspect anything when the franchiser is gone for long periods of time. If anything, they respect and appreciate it because, as far as they’re concerned, it means the cheater is working hard and contributing to the family. Sadly, it’s often rich men who do this and seem to get away with it, too.
  3. What do the experts say? Typically, this happens because men with intense jobs and high incomes don’t feel fulfilled in their marriages. It leads them to pursue the challenge and “game” of hiding a new family from them. At the same time, their ability to support two families boosts their ego. It’s also more often men than women who cheat by franchising because men have a masculinist desire to be the breadwinners. If they feel that that is threatened, or if the logistics of their “core” life are too simple or boring, that will lead them to try to juggle new families. They want higher stakes. That being said, women are capable of the franchising trend, of course.
  4. How do you recover from being the victim of franchising? First of all, find a community of people who have also been the victim of a similar concept. They will understand all the nuances of what you’re going through and will provide you with all the support you need. Draw on your friends here if you feel like you can’t trust your family. Therapists and professional counselors can also be of use here as they help you process the issues. There will be a big emotional fallout from being the victim of franchising, so don’t expect yourself to recover overnight when your partner has been playing a long-con on your life.

Why is the franchising trend so toxic?

  1. You’ll never trust again. We all know what cheating typically looks like. We’ve seen the movies, listened to the songs, and probably even lived through it in past relationships. When it happens to you, it breaks you in a way that informs every relationship you have in the future. The franchising trend is no different. In fact, worsens your ability to trust anyone ever again because of the sheer scale on which the betrayal happened. This wasn’t one whim that your partner drunkenly acted on and then confessed to. In all likelihood, they only got caught because they got careless, not because they wanted to come clean. They’d been planning this for years, decades even, and hurt so many people in the process. It’s unimaginable.
  2. You’ll be super paranoid. This is unavoidable because you’ve been the subject of a huge betrayal. You won’t know who to trust, or who was and wasn’t in on the scheme. The sad reality is that some of your friends will know or suspect what your partner was up to. Their friends certainly would have known. That’s what hurts — the fact that you were in the dark and other people watched you go about your daily life. Horrible thoughts like this will creep up on you every day when the franchising trend happens to you.
  3. You will get existential. Being the victim of this kind of cheating will have you reassess your whole family. You might even find yourself asking if you were even the first person they married, or what the consequences of this trauma will be on your children. You’ll start thinking about the future in horror while also wanting to write off all of your past. The present will be really painful. Try to just sit with the emotions and keep people you trust near you.
  4. You’ll ask yourself hard questions. “Did it mean nothing?” “What’s real now?” “What about the children?” These questions won’t have any good answers, but it will be cathartic to really feel your rage. Get angry and focus your emotions on where they need to be. Don’t blame yourself, but anchor yourself to reality as your new world forms one step at a time.
  5. You’re just a body to them. The franchising trend represents the worst kind of cheating because of what it does to the victims. There are no winners here and there is no shirking of responsibility. If someone can make their spouse believe that she was just a body to them, something to be re-written and improved upon with another family, then they deserve jail time. It’s as simple as that.
  6. They make everyone feel stupid. If there’s one thing about cheating that I hate above else, it’s how someone who’s guilty of the franchising trend makes the women in their lives feel stupid. People will retrospectively make that “they’re probably cheating on you” comment in all future relationships as if it’s helpful. It’s really frustrating and genuinely sad that one person has the capacity to initiate such pain on such a scale, mental and physical, long-term and short-term.
Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.