Yep, it’s confusing out there.
Dating is a different ball game these days. The rise of swiping your way to the real thing, or next fling, has left many people confused and frustrated. But modern dating doesn’t need to be that way. Dating is still the search for the person who makes you the happiest and there’s all sorts of ways to meet your future beau.
As dating has evolved, so too has the language. When you’re in the dating scene, it’s helpful to be up-to-date on the latest terms, acronyms and innuendos. We have scoured the internet for every modern-day dating terms and phrases you could ever need to know. From A-Z, we have listed words you may encounter chatting with your gal pals, in online chatrooms, or find perfectly describes what you have been experiencing with your latest “bae.”
An abbreviation standing for “Age, Sex, Location” that was common in early internet chat rooms by people that can only be described as creepy. It was used as a phishing technique to try and find someone they found attractive to send sexually explicit messages to, or to try and meet up with.
Some people are turning to the stars for dating guidance (and not the celebrity kind.) Astrolove is when single people look for dating compatibility in accordance with their zodiac and star signs. Fire up those horoscopes.
This is a new term for “rebound” and refers to the first pancake you make during breakfast that usually ends up overcooked or burned. A bad pancake is your first relationship or encounter after a big relationship: if it doesn’t turn out well, it was fated since they were your “bad pancake!”
An affectionate abbreviation for the word “babe.” People also use bae to describe something as particularly cool or awesome. Just google “salt bae” if you don’t believe us. But be careful how you use it with someone from Denmark. It means “poop” in Danish.
An offensive term used to describe someone who is boringly unoriginal and predictable.
This is another extremely common one. Hands up if this scenario sounds familiar: you’ve been seeing someone for a while but you’re not anything official. You don’t talk all the time but get together sometimes to have fun. You can tell he’s not sure about things between you two. Every time you think it’s finally played itself out, another text magically appears. Congratulations, you’ve officially been benched.
Is bad weather heading your way? A blizzard buddy is the person you get a relationship going with just so the two of you can cozy up during periods of rough weather. This has gotten more attention over recent years with people placing personal ads for “blizzard buddies” during large snowstorms and hurricanes.
When two people are dating and acting like a couple, but one of them says they’re not ready for any sort of label or commitment, even though they’re acting like they are.
When one is contacted, usually later in the day or a night, to get together, either explicitly or in a roundabout way, for sex. Ex: He texted me at 1:00am with “Hey, you awake?” after not texting me all week. Friend: “Yep, total booty call.”
Coined by Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, this is when a person contacts you, disappears and then bobs up over and over again.
When one of your friends gets into a new relationship and completely disappears. When asked about your friend, you let people know that Sally is currently on “boyfriend island” and you may not see her for another month or two.
This is one that many of us are guilty of. If you think you’re exempt, then ask yourself if you’ve ever sent a former lover an email or text just to let him know you’re thinking of him. You’ve almost entirely moved on, but you’re reaching out anyway.
Caspering is the friendly version of ghosting. Instead of completely disappearing on someone, a nice message is sent to let that person know that they will indeed be vanishing. Inspired by Casper the friendly ghost, the term encourages singles to let people down gently before they ghost them.
The state in between “friends with benefits” and “going steady” is the casual relationship. You hang out regularly, have sex, but aren’t posting love notes on Facebook, being exclusive, and spending time with each other’s family.
Catch & Release
This dating practice is all about chasing someone until you “catch” him and, once the thrill of the hunt is over, throwing him back in the sea of singledom so you can look for someone else.
This happens when a fake online profile is used to lure someone into a relationship.
Think Harry Potter and his invisibility cloak. Not only does someone stand you up, but he or she blocks you on all the apps that you previously communicated with them on. This (rude) person has taken steps to make themselves impossible to contact.
This shameful behavior is a combination of gaslighting and chasing social media clout. It’s when one person baits the person they’re dating on camera with the intention of getting them upset or angry, or making them look stupid. They they turn around and share that video on social media so they can get attention for themselves. Ugh!
When a relationship is essentially over, but never completely cut off, the person who is “cookie jarred” waits, hoping that the other person will return. Meanwhile, the one doing the “jarring” is out in the world looking for new partners, keeping the jarred person as a backup option, or “another cookie in the jar.”
It’s a romantic relationship that started because the couple involved didn’t want to be alone during the pandemic. As vaccination rates increase and the pandemic lessens, many of these Covidships could end.
This a derogatory term for people in the cryptocurrency space who are on the dating scene. They are often incredibly passionate about Bitcoin and blockchain, try to educate you on the subject, will urge you to invest, and may try to pay for the date in cryptocurrency.
When men in their 20s or early 30s pursue much older women for a casual or formal romantic relationship, they’re cubbing. For these men, a 20 year age difference is a turn on!
When someone is in a serious and committed relationship, they are cuffed.
This happens during the fall and winter when the weather gets colder, days get shorter, and the holiday season is in full swing. People who would normally prefer to be single, or date around, find themselves wanting to be “Cuffed,” or in a serious relationship.
Getting curved is being rejected in a situation. This happens to everyone, so don’t worry if it happens to you! Every failed interaction is an opportunity to try again for something better.
This involves starting flirting even starting up with new people before ending your main relationship so that you have a soft “cushion” to land on when it eventually ends.
This a date that feels more like a job interview. You thought this would be a simple chat, and all of a sudden you’ve divulged the contents of your Linkedin profile, are being asked about your five-year plan and where you see yourself in ten years. You’ve been daterviewed.
When you are dating someone and are in a relationship with him, but you know he’s not “the one.” As opposed to being a fully committed relationship, it’s limited to exclusively dating without intense emotional attachment.
These are set of standards that are absolute red flags when dating someone. Sometimes they are completely reasonable. Other times, they are consciously or unconsciously used to self-sabotage when trying to date another person.
It’s going ‘deep’ into someone’s content feed on any social network and liking posts, items, photos and more. This is usually used as a way to let someone know you like them and are thinking of them, or is an accidental double tap that your desperately wish you could take back.
While you’re sheltering-in-place to help keep the Covid-19 pandemic from spreading further, you keep your dating mojo by meeting other singles virtually on Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. Way to go, you’re DFH – dating from home!
This is an acronym for ‘dance floor make out.’ Flashback to high school dances, right?
Different from ghosting, dial-toning is ignoring someone before a relationship ever begins. It’s the act of giving someone your phone number only to ignore them when they reach out.
This one’s pretty self explanatory. It describes when a guy sends you a picture (unsolicited or otherwise) of his privates. Think Anthony Weiner. If this happens to you, save the photo and send it to the guy’s mother with an explanation. Guaranteed he’ll think twice before doing it again!
If you are looking at a person’s online profile and there’s a photo of them with a dog, there may be cause to wonder. If that person borrowed someone else’s dog just to have a photo with a pup in their profile, they’re dogfishing. Why do such a thing? Only they know. But it could be because people with dogs can be perceived as extra nurturing.
This is the prepping stages for cushioning. It’s the period where one person spends time playing the field to scope out who can be their “cushions” when they decide to end a relationship.
Short for “Down to F*ck,” this acronym is usually used to indicate that a person is open to casual hookups. It’s most often used offensively and is best avoided in polite conversation.
Stands for “Define the Relationship.” Also known as “The Talk.” It’s when you and the person you’ve been dating have the conversation about where things stand and where you each see the relationship going.
Adopting the interests or hobbies of someone you’re dating and pretending you like the activities too.
This is when someone’s social media posts and pictures are so carefully curated that they also serve as an online dating profile.
An emergency call is a fakeout that allows you to politely get out of a particularly bad date. If you can tell the night’s going to be a trainwreck, but you’re genuinely afraid of insulting the stranger you’re sitting across from, a fake emergency call from a friend early on in the evening can be a real lifesaver.
When two guys, who have been with the same girl, are on good terms with each other (and possibly friends).
Eskimo Sisters/Pogo Sisters
When two girls, who have been with the same guy, are on good terms with each other (and possibly friends).
Also known as “Facebook Official,” this is when a couple declares their love publicly on the internet by listing each other as “in a relationship with ________” on their Facebook profiles. Thanks to Facebook, there’s no need to shout from a mountain top anymore.
This guy has boarded the feminism train and is willing to ride it anywhere. He understands that many women aren’t getting paid enough, will happily go and have high-tea, and isn’t fazed by subverting gender stereotypes.
This is the dating version of the one-way fire door. It’s when a man comes out of his shell to contact you, but he won’t respond if you attempt to get in touch with him. It’s a setup that only works in deeply unequal situations.
When someone sends out messages to a bunch of people to see who’d be interested in hooking up, waits to see how responds, and then gets to pick who they want to be with. Why is it called “Fishing”? Because the fisher loads up on bait, waits for a fish to bite, and then ignores all the others.
A person is a “Flashpanner” if they are addicted to that warm fuzzy, and exciting start to a relationship, but can’t handle what comes afterwards, aka making a commitment.
Many singles have been understandably wary of dating during the pandemic. As more and more people get vaccinated, some will want to get back to meeting IRL asap. But not all. Hinge coined the term FODA – a “Fear of Dating Again” – to capture the romantic ambivalence that other singles will feel as they hold off on dating or ease into it slowly.
If someone pops into your dating life when the weather is nice, and then vanishes when it get cold, they are freckling.
Freeclimbing is akin to internet stalking, and is what happens when someone goes on a dangerous fact-finding mission about a man you’ve matched with or are interested in. First you Google his name, then scale through every result without a safety net– there’s no undo button on social media. You scroll through your match’s Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn profile in a death-defying tight-wire walk. This activity requires absolute precision: every “heart” and “like” is another tripwire and with one misplaced touch, he’ll discover what you’ve been up to.
This is when someone who is hoping to become a romantic interest gets sent to the friend arena, from which she most likely will never return. It’s the classic scenario that many of us first experienced in high school – a girl has a crush on a boy, but the boy likes her as a friend, or visa versa.
It is a catch-all insult for a guy who is disrespectful, immature, unintelligent, and crass. This derogatory term is best suited for a guy who represents the very worst in terms of interests, hobbies and personality traits.
This term describes someone you only have sex with every now and then with little, to no, emotional attachment involved.
Short for “Friends with Benefits,” it’s when two people, who are simply friends, enjoy having casual sex regularly. See “F*ck Buddy.”
Gaslighting is manipulating someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. If your partner constantly needs to be right, tells you that you’re too sensitive, and makes you question your reality as a result, they may be gaslighting you.
This is something that many of us been guilty of. Cast your mind back to English class–remember all those opulent parties Gatsby threw just to get Daisy’s attention? Now replace those parties with an Instagram story and you’ve got the idea. A person who is Gatsbying is posting on social media to create the perfect impression in case their special someone is watching.
When the person who has been ghosted contacts their ghost over and over in an attempt to reconnect with him.
When a person cuts off all communication with friends, or the person they’re dating, with zero warning or notice before going dark. They avoid the other person’s phone calls/texts, stay off social media, and try not to be seen in public.
Getting fully done up for a date only to have them cancel or your plans fall through at the last minute. Ugh!
The half-night stand is a one-night-stand without the sleep over.
It’s when an ex or old flame tries to get back into your life indirectly, or passive aggressively, through social media.
Incel is a term that became popular on Reddit to describe men who can’t get laid. Short for “involuntarily Celibate,” the term is rather demeaning and only exists in the meaner comment threads and chat rooms. Incel’s slightly less embarrassing cousin is “Volcel,” the voluntarily celibate.
It’s the Instagram version of “Facebook Official” when you post the first picture of you and your significant other on Instagram to let the world know you’re together.
This is an obsessive form of gathering info and images from Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other online sources about someone you are about to date, are dating, or have dated using the internet. It’s not always emotionally healthy to do and it time usually flies while you’re at it
Short for “In Real Life”. This refers to what a person actually does, or likes, as opposed to what her dating profile says. It’s also when you finally go on a real, physical date with a man you’ve been chatting with online. “Let’s meet up IRL.”
Slang for “jealous.”
When your date spends the entire time talking about themselves, just like a certain someone.
When a woman presents herself unrealistically on her dating profile, whether by using heavily edited or old-as-hell pics, or by lying about her age or lifestyle to curry favor with her matches. (Of course, men do it too.) Akin to Catfishing, it usually means lying by trying to look much younger than one actually is.
A term used to describe someone who seemed awesome in the beginning, but went 50 shades of weird on you. Derived from “Crazy Baby.” Ex: “Girl, ditch that Kray Bae before he shows up at your house uninvited and keys your car!”
When you bide your time dating someone while waiting for better options to come your way.
Left on Read
This is when someone reads your message and doesn’t respond, either for a long period of time, or ever. Harsh!
Lining is the most modern way to proposition someone, perhaps ever. On the popular taxi app Lyft, there is an option to split the ride with a stranger. It’s called Lyft Line. (On Uber, it’s called Pool). When this option is selected, the app asks you if the ride is just for you, or if you’re bringing a friend. See where this is going? If you want to invite someone you’ve been chatting with back to your place, but are feeling shy, all you have to do is show him this option screen. He can tap on his choice with minimum awkwardness. If he opts not to get in your cab, look on the bright side, you’ve saved a bit of money.
Locdating is a term for dating locally. With travel harder to do because of the pandemic, some singles are preferring to focus on meeting people that live an easy walk, drive or bus ride away.
Love bombing is when a new partner goes overboard, showing extreme amounts of affection early on in a relationship. He spends a lot of money, time, and energy trying to woo the heck out of you. However, once you’ve committed to a relationship with him, the love bomber withdraws all affection and turns nastier than the three-week old leftovers in your fridge. The name might sound cute, but love bombing is manipulative and abusive.
This is the half hour before last call at a bar–that last minute scramble to find some lovin’ for the night.
When you’re a master juggler and dating several men at the same time, you’re megadating.
You are messaging your ex a lot while you are in a relationship, and not telling your partner about it. Depending on what you’re chatting about, you could be micro-cheating.
Like a money in the trees, someone who is monkeying swings from relationship to relationship without ever touching the ground for some down time.
This is akin to love bombing, but tends to happen over a shorter time period. In Mosting, someone comes on with incredibly convincing and heart-melting comments, making you believe they really care. Then they ghost you. This new term for an old dating tactic is filled with seemingly genuine compliments that leave the “moster” with the least amount of emotional involvement possible.
It’s a method of lowering a woman’s confidence through the dual approach of offending her, and then flattering her. The man’s goal is to control the dynamics of their encounter and subtly get the woman to earn his approval. For example, a guy messages a woman that he’s usually only into blondes, but for her he’s willing to make an exception. She’s kind of offended, but also sort of takes it as a compliment.
Netflix and Chill
If someone’s invited to “Netflix and Chill,” it’s understood that you won’t be spending a lot of time watching the TV. Basically, it’s used as shorthand for “put on a movie while we have sex.”
This is a get together that includes heavy flirting, food, playful touching and intense eye contact. But your love interest does not specify it as a “date.” Confusing!
The act of endlessly swiping on dating apps and flirt-chatting away with no actual intention of meeting in person so you can tell yourself you’re doing something to put yourself out there.
On A Thing
This is used to describe that romantic relationship that isn’t official, but definitely isn’t just a casual fling. Ex: Harry and I have been on a thing for a few months now.
When a couple agrees to have a relationship that involves separately dating and/or having sex with other people.
Your ex starts showing up in your social media, perhaps even checking you out on LinkedIn. But he never makes direct contact with you. His behavior is similar to Haunting, except he just hovers.
This acronym has been around for a while–public displays of affection. Kissing, holding hands, and hotter and heavier activities in public all qualify. Some people love taking their PDA to the streets, the mall, a restaurant… while other people are simply not into it at all!
When someone you’ve been in a relationship with sporadically pops back into your life to remind you of their existence so that you’re unable to fully move on.
Male peacocks put on a world-class show with their feathers when they’re trying to attract a mate. In the dating world, this often happens when a man or a woman tries to get a love interest’s attention. People can peacock by showing off their wealth, biceps, musical skills, cars, expertise in the kitchen, or level of education (to name a few examples) to prospective partners.
In the online dating world, Phishing is when a person attempts to build up trust over a series of communications and then requests money, personal info, or a favor, in order to steal from, deceive, or harm the recipient.
This is British slang for being dumped.
Pie Hunting is an unsavory dating phenomenon in which a person – the “Hunter”- deliberately dates “Pies” – heartbroken, vulnerable people with messy dating histories, who are perceived to be lower-maintenance.
Pingers will text you occasionally to tell you how into you they are. They’ll flirt. They’ll lead you on and then….nothing. No plans made. No date scheduled. You’re responding positively to their texts boosts their egos. That’s what they’re after, not you. Fools!
This is what happens when your freeclimbing doesn’t go as planned. When you mistakenly leave a digital fingerprint on someone’s social media notifications in an embarrassing way, you’ve Printed. You accidentally liked John’s skiing photo, and even though you unliked it, he is going to get a notification and find out you looked through all his Facebook photos at 2:00 AM last Friday.
Cool new slang for . . . cool. You’re so “Q!” And yes, what will kids come up with next?
Synonym for “Left on Read” when someone reads your message and never replies, knowing you have seen that they have read it.
Going back to an ex.
In general, a Red Herring is something used to divert attention from the real matter, issue or object (Historically, a dead red herring was often used to confuse or test the scent of a hunting dog.) In the dating world, things that seem important, impressive or even disappointing early on may turn out to be false leads that point us in the wrong direction. In the early stages of a relationship you make decisions with little bits of information since you don’t have a lot of history to draw on. Some of these tells are good indicators and some can be very misleading.
Roaching is when a person hides from someone they’ve been seeing. When confronted, the person claims to have simply assumed that there was no agreement to be monogamous to begin with. Like a cockroach who tries to skitter under a cabinet, this not-so-slick tactic is creepy.
Dumping someone right before Christmas so that you don’g have to buy them a present.
An adult who is in the dating scene longer than they’d expected to be.
If you’ve ever had sex with someone before going on a real date with him, they you’ve engaged in a Sex Interview. Sex researchers (yes, that’s a real job) coined the term in 2015 to describe the practice, which has gained popularity among some millennials to weed out so-so performers in the bedroom.
When your one-night stand turns into several nights in a row, you’ve got a several-night stand on your hands.
Texting sexual messages back and forth with someone. Use those eggplant, peach, pizza, splash, and saxophone emojis in a different way and you got yourself a steamy conversation…Should we 🍆🍑😉?
Sexting the Waters
This is when someone obviously wants to sext you but he’s scared about being too direct and getting rebuffed. He will send messages like “What are you wearing?” later in the evening, with the obvious hope that it will lead to some nude photos. If he’s called out for it, he then uses language that’s vague enough to provide him with a cover.
Posting with a hot friend in all your dating app pics, knowing that people will assume that you’re the attractive one. Of course, they’ll figure out who’s who when you meet them in person.
When you’re not sure if you’re attracted to the man, or if you’re just attracted to his facial hair.
When you are having a secret text message conversation with someone else while talking to another person, whether in real life or online. It’s the practice of carrying out a secret conversation via your phone while you’re in a meeting, at a party, or elsewhere, and the subject of your conversation is nearby.
If your romantic relationship hasn’t been defined yet by the two of you, then you’re in a situationship. See “On a Thing”.
Slide into the DM’s
“Sliding into the DM’s” is when a suitor sends, aka “direct messages” flirty/sexual messages to your Instagram inbox with the intention of eventually meeting up with you.
Sober First Kiss
The coveted first kiss that takes place when both people are completely sober.
This is when a person you like slowly fades out of your life instead of ending the relationship quickly and directly. This often involves giving you less and less attention over time, both texting and in person, until he fully disappears.
A snack is a babe, a honey, a stunner, a smokeshow, a jaw-dropping vision. Also known as someone so attractive, you almost want to eat them right up.
You know when you’re chatting with a guy and you’re not really feeling it, but then he suggests a date at your favorite restaurant? You’re pretty sure things aren’t going anywhere between the two of you… but you really want the steak tartar, so you say “yes”. That’s sneating.
When man you’ve been going out with for a while doesn’t introduce you to his friends or family, and doesn’t post about you on social media, there’s a chance he could be stashing you. He may be doing this because he knows that the relationship is only temporary and he’s keeping his options open.
This practice can be dangerous and can be a form of sexual assault. When a partner surreptitiously removes a condom mid-sexual act, without consent, enabling him to finish the deed unprotected, he is stealthing.
When an ex, or old lover, resurfaces into your life from the depths of being forgotten, just every so often, to remind you how much he cares, or that he “saw this thing and thought of you,” he’s submarining. These messages aren’t always for romantic and sexual reasons, but they can still hurt.
The counterpart to Cuffing Season, Summer Flings are casual relationships that end once the leaves start to change and begin falling from the trees. Summer flings often start on vacations and end when one of the people has to return home. They tend to be of the “short and sweet” variety.
Sunday Night Fever
Sunday evening is generally the busiest time of week for dating apps. Sunday Night Fever refers to the surge of messages a woman might receive then.
This is when you determining someone’s compatibility based on whether you would enjoy spending a Sunday with them doing absolutely nothing.
Swinging is the de facto term for consensually sleeping with someone outside of your marriage while your partner does the same.
Used in online dating apps to choose whether or not you would like to “match” with someone, you swipe right if you’re interested and left if you’re going to pass. If done in person, it’s telling someone whether you like their face or not.
A Tater Tot refers to a younger FWB who’s not good for you at all, but who you crave nonetheless.
Text Black Hole
When you enter into a never-ending texting conversation with someone you meet online and never actually meet in real life, you’ve been sucked into a Text Black Hole.
When a relationship is comprised almost entirely of text messaging, you’re in a Textlationship. This is an easy way to stifle a budding romance, as rapport is different in person, and never meeting in person makes it harder to connect, period.
A term implying one member of a serious and committed relationship is being hindered in things they would rather be doing by the relationship. Also, a phrase used by one person to let the other know that he/she does not want any commitment or deep connection at the moment. Ex: I don’t like being tied down.
Tindstagramming is the process of contacting someone through Instagram’s direct messaging feature after you have seen them on Tinder but not become a match. It’s an annoying and generally poorly-received way of bypassing a left-swipe. Women, in particular, get fatigued by the messages that pile up in their “Other” folder when they link their Instagram account to their Tinder profile.
A term used to describe those who are extremely eager, or desperate, for a bit of action. A thirsty person is horny and looking for a sexual encounter
A photo a person posts of what they believe to be their best physical feature that might end up enticing horny people in your social network. If you’ve ever posted a picture of your new necklace knowing full well how awesome your cleavage looked, you may have made a thirst trap of your own!
THOT stands for ‘That Hoe Over There’ and, unless you happen to be standing in a garden shed, it’s probably being used as an offensive way to describe a woman. It can be said playfully (in music or between very good friends), but more often you’ll find it used to insult a woman who has been deemed slutty, a gold-digger, low-class or, most possibly, all three. As dating terms go, this is a very loaded piece of slang, and probably one best avoided.
Your behavior while you’re in the early, getting to know each other phase, before things get serious and a romantic relationship begins.
This is a relationship that started either right before the pandemic or during the lockdown and has gone at Mach speed. These relationships have gone from kind of knowing someone to playing house in a very short time. The term was coined by relationship expert Susan Winter.
Turkey Dump refers to being broken up with after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Exclusively dating people based on Myers-Briggs Type or “Love Language” compatibility.
Determining someone’s desirability based on the distance between where he/she lives and where you live.
When winter is over, and you ditch your “cuff,” or current relationship, in time for a summer of love with someone new.
Still a virgin? Then you are officially still carrying your V Card.
When you and someone else have a date without physically being together. You use laptops, tablets, phones and platforms such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom to talk and get together while being apart.
A slang word for “hard work” or “a lot of effort.” When you had to put a lot of effort in to get that woman or man to agree to go on a date with you.
The act of staying with someone who you find basic and boring only because you find them attractive.
This is when people pretend to have progressive political views in order to attract a potential partner. Think catfishing, but with political beliefs.
When something about your love interest is so damn hot but you can’t explain what.
When someone is called out on their poor dating behavior.
Another acronym stands for “You Only Dump Once.” In other words, you can never go back to that kray bae.
Short for “You Only Live Once.” Used in dating profiles evoke being carefree and spontaneous. Some think it’s gotten too popular, so now it’s used more ironically or sarcastically.
Falling head over heels for someone, only to suddenly change your mind.
Zombie-ing goes a level beyond Ghosting. It’s when a person who randomly disappeared a long time ago, slides back into your DM’s to ask how you’re doing. As with actual zombies, proceed with caution.
To be Zumped is to be dumped over the video conference app Zoom. Thanks to the pandemic and social distancing, Zoom has become a place for conferences, catch-ups, concerts, happy hours and heartbreak.