Dating Definitions

Online Dating

20 Modern Dating Definitions Singles Should Know

Julie Spira
Julie Spira Posted:
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Dating seems to be complicated these days. Between an ever-growing list of dating terms and new pandemic-related dating styles, it’s hard to keep up with all the dating terminology.

To ease the confusion, here’s a list of some of the latest dating trends.

1. Benching

In sports (as in love), when someone’s playing the field, it means they’re not focusing on one person at a time. If someone is benching you, it means they’ll put you on hold — or on the bench, in the sports analogy — without ever meeting you, and they’ll replace you with someone else they’re more interested in.

They’ll keep you hanging and will stay connected, and may continue to like your social media posts in the event the other relationship fizzles out. But, in the meantime, they won’t kick you to the curb until they know for sure.

2. Breadcrumbing

The word breadcrumbs, when used in the dating context, isn’t an ingredient for a recipe. When someone is breadcrumbing you, they’re in it for the game. You’ll find them leading you on with fun and flirty texts to keep you interested, and, while you think you’re in a groove and that the flirting could lead somewhere, they’ll never follow through.

You’ll be left with crumbs of communication — an inconsistent string of texts and likes — and it’s not a whole lot of fun.

3. Caspering

A dater who’s a Casper, unlike the television cartoon, is an unfriendly ghost. Caspering is when you’ve met someone, have gone on a date, feel a connection, and leave the date with a vague expectation of getting together again. Typically, you’ll send a gracious thank-you text to say you had a great time and ask a question like “How did you like the Fettuccine?” or “How long did it take you to get home?”

Because a Casper has no intention of seeing you again, they may let two to three days go by before they reply. Or they let you down gently with a non-committal answer like they had an easy drive home, but they won’t suggest getting together again.

It’s time to read between the lines. Their soft-exit text will happen before they become an official ghoster because they’re subtly letting you know they didn’t feel a connection.

4. Catfishing

The person who decides to become a catfisher creates a fake profile and assumes a whole new identity on a social media site or dating app with the intent to deceive you.

Photo of a catfish

Catfishing is when a scammer pretends to be someone they’re not to get money out of online daters.

This devious individual will grab someone else’s photo and make up a fake name and profile to capture your heart. Maybe they’re married, or perhaps they’re lonely, but they’ll get you to fall in love with them and will never plan to meet you. That is, unless you end up in an episode of the MTV show “Catfish.”

5. Cookie Jarring

Cookie jarring is the direct opposite of being put on the bench. When you’re being cookie jarred, you may think you’re exclusive with the person you’re dating, but in reality, he or she is treating you as a backup.

The person who is cookie jarring you is simultaneously dating someone who thinks they’re exclusive too. He or she may see you on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and spend time with their other partner on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

It’s two-timing and cheating, and the cheater will keep you on the hook in case the one he or she likes better fizzles out or they get caught.

6. Corona-Zoned

During the pandemic, most dates have been held virtually or through chats. When you suggest meeting up IRL, you’ll be corona-zoned if the person you’ve been chatting with lives in fear of getting sick if they meet you indoors. This person wants to wait until everyone is double-vaccinated before they meet anyone. Typically, if you’ve been corona-zoned, the conversation will abruptly end.

7. Cushioning

Cushioning means entertaining other potential romantic options while being in a committed relationship. The person doing the cushioning may not be physically cheating, but they’ll put up a new profile, start swiping, texting, and flirting with new matches. This typically happens when someone knows their relationship is on the way out.

This helps soften the blow if their steady squeeze decides to call it quits. Of course, the person they’re using as a cushion has no idea their relationship status is still listed as “In a Relationship.”

8. Dogfishing

Being in puppy love makes people feel good, which is why profiles with cute pets get more attention. That’s also why some petless singles will post a photo with a puppy in their profiles to capture the eye of potential dates.

Photo of a man with a dog

Some people will post a picture with a dog that isn’t theirs so they can get more likes and right swipes.

Having an image of a cute dog is an instant chick magnet. Dog owners are known as nurturing, affectionate, and loyal. Some singles will borrow their friend’s dog for a photo shoot to pretend it’s their own. If the pet isn’t yours, it doesn’t belong in your dating profile.

9. DTR

Does DTR need to be defined? Yes, it’s a gentle reminder if you haven’t talked about being exclusive that it’s time to DTR, the acronym for “Define the Relationship.”

The DTR talk is a critical point in a relationship in which one person wants clear answers from the other.

Having the DTR talk is a big deal because, if all goes well, it’s a relationship milestone where you’ll mutually agree to commit. It could also backfire and could lead to a breakup.

Having the DTR talk can’t be ignored because if you don’t DTR, you could get benched, breadcrumbed, ghosted, among other dating misbehavior.

10. To Fauci

One of the newest dating terms is a tip of the hat to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist frequently seen on TV talking about COVID-19 and whose expertise and scientific approach to the pandemic is widely recognized. When someone Faucis a potential date, it means they don’t go out with them because their date isn’t taking COVID seriously.

Your date could refuse to wear a mask on a date, be an anti-vaxxer, or even believe the coronavirus is a hoax. For single daters who take safety seriously and are patiently waiting for their turn to take the vaccine, they will Fauci someone quickly and dismiss them from their date card.

11. Future Faking

Another newer dating term, future faking, is when someone dangles significant promises to you and never delivers. A future faker will talk about a future vacation, possibly moving in together, and even promise marriage. All of these “maybes” are a big game to the person talking about your future, and none of them will come to fruition.

A future faker is a master at manipulation and will tell you precisely what you want to hear to keep you as their armpiece in their fantasy world. If you find yourself in the throes of a Future Faker, run the other way, and fast.

12. Ghosting

Ghosting is the most familiar term in the dating dictionary, and over 90% of millennials have either ghosted someone or have been the victim of a ghoster.

Ghosting is the coward’s way of breaking up. It’s when someone you’re dating abruptly ends the relationship by cutting off all communication without any explanation. And we’re not talking about not getting a text back after one awkward OkCupid date, but receiving the ultimate silent treatment after several dates or when you’re in a committed relationship.

Photo of a ghost

When an online match stops responding to your texts and calls, you’ve been ghosted.

After being in regular daily contact, the ghoster will go MIA and won’t respond to your texts or calls. If this happens to you, do yourself a favor and delete their number instead of triple texting and making a fool of yourself.

13. Haunting

Haunting isn’t something you do on Halloween It’s a milder version of ghosting.

Imagine the person you thought you were dating decides to disappear and ghost you, but they still stay connected to you digitally by following you on social media. Instead of unfriending or blocking you, they will continue to view your Instagram and Facebook stories but otherwise have zero contact with you. Haunting is a bit creepy.

Maybe they feel guilty about ghosting you, or perhaps they don’t want you to think they’re a jerk, but seeing their views in your feed doesn’t help you move on from the haunter, and you may want to block them from following you to protect your emotional health.

14. Kittenfishing

What sounds cuter than catfishing? It’s kittenfishing, which is to take the light approach to catfishing. Authenticity is essential in your profile, and your date deserves truth in advertising when they view what you share about yourself.

A person who kittenfishes only tells the best version of themselves to attract dates. Perhaps they exaggerate their career, or maybe say they graduated from a prominent college when they just took one night course there.

Some who kittenfish may change their hometown on their profile if it’s adjacent to a city with greater curb appeal.

I’ve seen this with people who say they live in Beverly Hills, when they live 10 miles away from the famed city, and others who continue to post photos from 10 years ago when they had more hair and less weight. I’ve also seen women post their favorite football teams when they’d dread sitting through four quarters of a game on a date.

15. Slow Fade

The Slow Fade has been around for generations and starts when you notice the regular frequency of your partner’s texts, daily chats, and calls begin to show gaps.

The Slow Fade can happen when your partner loses interest, finds someone new they like better, and doesn’t want to go on record as dumping you. When your groove is off, and you’re not their regular Saturday night date, the person who’s doing the slow fade is hoping you’ll get the hint and become frustrated to the point of actually breaking up with them.

The Slow Fader won’t go MIA completely. At first, you may hear from them every other day instead of daily, or once a day instead of six times a day. The person who is slowly fading you out of their life will stay in touch, but not as often. And their ambivalence about your relationship may anger you or help you realize they aren’t worth fighting for.

In the end, if no one initiates a complete breakup, you can count on getting ghosted by your slow fading soon-to-be ex.

16. Orbiting

Orbiting is similar to haunting, except the orbiter, your ex, continues to follow you around on social media and likes your posts to show they might still be interested in you.

Photo of orbiting around the earth

An Orbiter will stop talking to you and hanging out with you, but they’ll keep liking your social media posts and things like that.

You won’t get a DM or a text from an Orbiter, but they’ll lurk around just in case they decide to circle back to you.

17. Situationship

A situationship is like being in a relationship with no definition at all. If you’re in a friends-with-benefits relationship, it’s a situationship. If you have a digital penpal, someone miles away who you haven’t met in person but would like to someday, you’re in a situationship.

In a situationship, there’s no level of commitment, and you can’t refer to the other person as your boyfriend or girlfriend yet, although you secretly may want to DTR. A situationship is a level below a relationship, but people may stay there with the hope that it upgrades to being exclusive.

18. Turbo Relationship

A turbo relationship is like dating on steroids. It’s a relationship on the fast track on the highway to love.

This relationship trend appeared more frequently during the beginning of the pandemic, when couples quickly decided to quarantine together rather than weathering the virus alone. With a turbo relationship, couples get serious super quickly, and often define the relationship by the second date.

By the end of the week, a couple in a turbo relationship may decide they’re a perfect match, confess their love to their new partner, and talk about a future together.

19. Zombieing

A person who is a zombie is like a boomerang — coming back into your world after you’ve ended things. They ghosted you, it’s over, you’ve taken the time to heal and move on. Then, when you’re over them, perhaps months or years later, they pop back up to text and say, “Hey” or “Happy Birthday” or even “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Photo of a zombie

Just when you think an online match is gone forever, they pop back up like a zombie.

Some people who zombie will reappear on social media as a friend request, follow you online again, or comment on one of your Instagram posts. I say once a ghost, always a ghost. Chances are, they won’t stick around if you let them back into your life, so I recommend ignoring the person who’s zombieing you.

20. Zumping

Zumping means to dump someone over Zoom. It’s when you schedule a video or virtual date on Zoom, FaceTime, or other video chat software to tell the person you’ve been chatting with that you’re not feeling it or you’ve met someone else.

Zumping is better than ghosting or being dumped in a text. However, zumping someone is still not the same as giving your partner the courtesy of breaking up with IRL.

If your entire relationship is virtual, it makes sense to have the “It’s not you; it’s me” talk in a video chat. If geography gets in the way, you’ve met someone else, or you don’t see a future together as a couple, you may find yourself getting zumped. Game over.

New Dating Terms Will Always Be Created, and We’ll Continue to Keep You Updated

As each season changes, you’ll find a new list of dating terms that will both educate and amuse you as you navigate love in the digital age.