Updated: Feb 8, 2022
OMG the modern dating terms are C.R.A.Z.Y! You may have heard of some of these contemporary romantic semantics bantered around the millennial and centennial campfires, but they change in the blink of an eye and it’s a tough call keeping up, like you may have noticed that ‘ghosting’ is so 2019 and are wondering what genius slang has risen up to replace it.
If you’re a person of a certain age you might feel utterly clueless when the kids start speaking ‘2020 datish’ like, "I’ve been cookie-jarred." "We're in a situationship." Or "Yeah Bro, it’s cuffing season.” What the bleep are they saying?
You may have already been a victim or perpetrator of these loveless dating faux pas without even knowing they had a label other than ‘dead-shitty behaviour.’ It’s complicated, the slang continuously morphs, the bar is always moving and what used to be the simple language of romance has become a mysterious lexicon to decipher.
These crazy terms are hilarious, clever, but also very clear expressions of our insidious disregard for one another. None of these experiences truly feel good when they happen to you, and the fact we can enact them is a rather sadder story. They are to me a bitter reflection of humanity lowering its standards and stooping to extreme individualism and separation.
They are likewise reflections of having too many options to choose from thus rendering commitment irrelevant, and a pile of natural building blocks for loving relationships being lost to the digital age. Makes me cry, even though I’m guilty of a few of these behaviours. It’s the nature of the online dating beast and, you better beware.
To help you navigate the modern dating world and avoid becoming a foul-doer, complicit partaker or innocent recipient of any of the ‘bad’ dating games – here is the ultimate decoded glossary of 2020 dating terms:
‘Benching’ refers to parking a potential relationship on the sideline while sussing out a more promising one. You might ease off and talk less but keep the door open just in case the other one falls through.
'Caking' is like flirting – but no one says ‘flirting’ anymore! It’s when you act sweeter to, and more openly interested than usual, in someone you're wishing to connect with.
The term ‘Catfishing’ has been around for ages but its still valid, vile and worth including. It’s when a person creates a false identity on a social network account for the specific purpose of ‘fishing’ for pray for romance scams, but is often aimed at a specific person for abuse, deception or fraud.
'Cloaking' is the new and much nastier version of 'ghosting' – which meant a potential love cuts off all communication. You have been ‘cloaked’ when not only communication ceases but you’ve straight up been unmatched and blocked on all other apps. You never know exactly why you’ve been exiled, but you can guess - Pretty damn rude, and gutless I might add!
‘Cockfishing’ is loosely related to ‘catfishing’ as they both use the anonymity of the web to deceive which is why ‘Cockfishing is sometimes called ‘Catcocks’. It’s when people send fake ‘dick pics’ — scraped up from online images, from photos of a former lover, or they may be digitally enhanced or shot from a tricky angle to hook a lover. #donteverdothistome
This is ‘reverse benching’. ‘Say you’ve been seeing a love interest but haven’t defined the relationship yet (DTR), then find out they've been two-timing you but keeping you handy in case the other option fizzles out – you have been 'cookie-jarred.'
‘Cuffing season’ opens when it starts getting cold outside. It’s the time of year when somehow it’s become common practice to start a new relationship so you have someone to snuggle up to and keep warm during cold nights … UGGH where is the love!
‘Curving’ is a bit gentler than a flat-out rejection. It's when someone turns down your advances in an indirect manner – like turning their cheek to an advancing kiss. It’s yet another example of how keeping your options open to people even if you’re not 100% interested - is trending #keepyouroptionsopen #commitnow #makeachoice
‘Cushioning’ is another #keepyouroptionsopen example. It is when you attempt to ‘cushion’ the blow in case you break up with someone you’re already dating - by texting, flirting or even dating other potential love interests - it’s the anti-venom to commitment!
A ‘dater-view’ is pretty self-explanatory – it refers to those tedious dates that feel like job interviews rather than naturally fun, interesting or flirtatious? If you spent an entire date being hammered with a series of rapid-fire questions with the obvious motive of checking your date, romantic or partner worthy suitability - it was a ‘daterview’. #yawn
‘Dial toning’ is when you don’t reply to someone’s texts or calls after you gave them your number and invited them to connect with you. This is hard-core ghosting and God knows why you’d hand out your number without any intent to respond! #barthegameskids
Eclipsing refers to someone picking up the hobbies and characteristics of the person they’re dating … #creepy
These season things really rub me up the wrong way!
When one person holds all the power by keeping access one sided only, and they block any attempt for you to make it a two-way street – you are being ‘firedoored’. For example; they never respond to your texts or make plans but you will run over to them as soon as summoned. I’ll stay out thanks! #infuriating #disrespectful #buhbye
A ‘flashpanner’ seeks the fun, thrill and romance of the honeymoon period and typically ghosts you once the honeymoon is over. They won’t work through the relationship to take it any deeper #committa-phobe #coward
I'm including 'ghosting' even though it's so last year! It means that someone you've been on a few dates with suddenly disappears - hoping that by by not responding you will get the hint #cowardly #disrespectful
‘Haunting’ is a form of stalking - when an ex lover, partner or perhaps someone you’ve just dated a few times and decided not to pursue a relationship with, lingers in your online life and lets you know they are watching you without making contact. They keep their existence refreshed without clear intent. Intentions range from maintaining a friendly connection to narcissistic spikes, as do the responses of recipients range from a reminiscent smile to horror.
An ‘Incel’ is an ‘involuntarily celibate’, that is a person who feels entitled to sex but can’t get any. These are creepy peeps with hint of sleaze, and quite often dangerous. I’ve never met any but I’ve heard stories – these people are out there so best beware.
If you are dating someone who loves the sound of their own voice and talks incessantly about themself they are ‘Kanye-ing’ you. Patience in spades is required. Personally I do not have enough of this virtue at hand! #pleasestoptalking
‘Kittenfishing’, just as it implies - is the baby version of ‘Catfishing’. Opposed to creating a fake online persona, ‘kittenfishers’ fiddle with emphasising their better traits and minimizing less favourable ones to create a partially accurate profile. E.g. using ridiculously out of date profile pics, or say they are interested in rock climbing when they clearly aren’t, just to hook a man. Who in their right mind thinks no one will notice? #atotalturnoff
‘Love bombing’ is when a date storms you with showers of love and affection, hot chemistry and cracking conversation at the beginning of your affair. Talking about romantic trips away together, surprising you with gifts and compliments and calling you just to say hi can carry on for weeks or months … and then nada! They totally retract interest once you have been fully seduced. It is similar but not quite the same as ‘ghosting’ but with intense affection, as love bombers may have grown scared by the intensity of their feelings or perhaps in a more narcissistic light having pulled back once they ‘snared’ their prey. #ouch #dontdothat #goaway
NEXT ON DECK
This is like stacking your options. It’s having someone 'next on deck' to tune in with if your current thing doesn't work out. Are we spoiled for choice or what! #gowiththeflow #bringbacksoulfulconstellations
‘Orbiting is when a potential mate interacts with you online – E.g. on FB Snapchat and Instagram, but ignores your texts. It’s a bit of a tricky non-committal way to let an ex know they're still interested. It differs to ‘haunting’ in which a person has already ghosted you.
‘Pan sexual’ is when someone is attracted to people of any gender.
'Paperclipping' is named after the old Microsoft Word mascot. It's when an ex unexpectedly pops back into your life, with no other intention that to pointlessly remind you they are still around and to massage their ego. #annoying #pointless
If you've been dating someone for a while and they resist mixing you up with their friends or family, you’ve most likely been ‘pocketed’ – kept quiet until they are sure of their feelings for you. To some extent this is a savvy move in the beginning of an affair but if it goes on to long ya gotta question how they really feel! #takemehome
Polyamorous or ‘poly’ for short, harks back in various forms to ancient Rome and is making a come back. Being ‘poly’ means you can enjoy relationships with other people outside your primary relationship. Sometimes they all live together – not sure if happily ever after though! They say the key is honesty and commitment to not hurting or betraying any of your partners. Sounds like polygamy - which is illegal in most Western countries I believe! #notformethanks
As the name implies ‘roaching’ is not a pleasant practice! If you find out your regular partner, who you believed to be exclusive, has been dating other people, or at least casually looking for a little something on the side – then when confronted sidesteps the blame by claiming they didn't realize you were in a monogamous relationship – they are ‘roaching’ you.
This questionable behaviour is named after the fact that when you see one cockroach, you can be sure there are plenty more in the woodwork.
A ‘sex interview’ refers to the very unromantic notion of using a date as an interview for potential sex, but has recently upped the ante to the next level. Now it’s becoming increasing au fey for some millennials to use sex with a first date to ascertain whether they are worth getting to know at all.
A ‘situationship’ is a pseudo-relationship in which you have regular sex and communication and a strong emotional connection but you don't officially commit. You're together but you're not ‘together’ together. You're in a situation and its more common than you think. #comittaphobe
'Slow fading' is a drawn out version of ‘ghosting’ where your partner starts pulling back - rarely texting, dating less frequently, keeping conversation more trivial and mundane. It’s used to avoid the potential messiness of a break up. #gutless #disregard #getitoverwith
‘Soft ghosting’ is similar to ‘orbiting’ where by a person is ‘liking’ your texts or posts instead of replying. It allows them to claim they didn’t technically ghost you – I rather you would babe! And more often than not they do eventually disappear after arrogantly serving you up a few social media ‘likes’ as a token reminder of their existence. #begone
‘Spearfishing’ is when you target a particular love interest through your wider social media presence with specific posts you know will interest that person and bait a reply. It’s like trying to hook one fish in particular, from a sea of many without being too obvious. The target might naively think that they have a lot in common and thus connection is made with brownie points to boot. In a way this is a slightly subtler digital age version of the proverbial ‘dropping of the hanky’. #goodluck
You are being ‘stashed’ if you're dating someone and it’s going well except this person is hiding the fact that they know you by dubious acts like ‘detagging’ themselves from your posts and not including you in their social media stories. It’s like they are keeping you out of the public eye, in the closet – so as to keep the coast clear for attracting other possible matches. #commitaphobe # badbehaviour #insulting #privacyisprecious
When you date someone solely due to physical attraction but you find them duller than a wet week – thus rendering you naught much more than a sexy handbag. #boring
If you have been ‘ghosted’ twice by the same person then you have been 'zombied.' The term was coined by ‘Cosmopolitan US’, upon the analogy of a ghost resurrecting then disappearing again. #badbehaviour #heartless #deadbeat