Your Comprehensive Guide to Online Dating Slang

Your Comprehensive Guide to Online Dating Slang

Internet Dating Slang Terms You Need to Know in 2020

Though we're still meeting in bars and going to see movies together, dating today would be largely unrecognizable to people 10 years ago; changes in how we find our dates, how we treat them and how we describe ourselves to them have radically altered the dating landscape.

To many, modern dating can seem like a minefield of technical jargon; the phrase "My poly pansexual situationship ghosted me so I'm breadcrumbing this snack I had a half-night stand with last year, will you be my emergency call if he wants to Netflix & chill?" will be clear as day to some and unintelligible to others.

RELATED:All the Sex Slang You Need to Know

If you find yourself in the latter category, this gigantic glossary of 61dating terms is for you.


Identity / Celibacy

Pronunciation: ay-ro-MAN-tick

Aromanticism is pretty rare, but it is real: A certain portion of the population does not experience the feelings of romantic love that seem to come naturally for so many of us. While that might seem like either a blessing or a curse, depending on your take on love, perhaps the most significant hurdle for aromantic people is simply feeling left out and misunderstood by a culture for whom dating, love and marriage are not only the norm, but the de facto expectation for all.

Etymology: The "a-" prefix roughly translates to "without;" "romantic," here, means capable of having feelings of romantic love

"I don't know what's wrong with me. I just can't... fall in love." "You're not broken maybe you're just aromantic!"


aka Ace

Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: ay-SEK-shoo-UL

Being asexual doesn't specify whom you're attracted to, unlike other terms on this list. It specifies you don't experience sexual attraction. But this doesn't mean you can't have sex only that you don't feel the need in the same way. Dating an ace person? Expect to check in regularly with them re: their desires and boundaries just as you would when dating anybody else.

Etymology: Knowing that "a-" means "without," I'm sure I don't need to tell you what "sexual" means.

"Patrick, are you dating Scott? I thought he was asexual, not gay." "Scott's asexual and likes boys! It ain't mutually exclusive."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: BENCH-ing

Benching is when you're not into someone enough to commit to officially dating them, but you don't want them to move on and find someone else either, so you string them along juuuust enough to keep them waiting on the sidelines for you.

Etymology: You know when you're on a sports team but not actually playing, just waiting on the bench until the coach needs you? Yeah, it's the dating version of that.

"Rachel only ever seems to text me after I've given up on hearing from her. She's definitely benching me."


Dating / Identity

Pronunciation: BIG dick EH-nur-JEE

Big dick energy, or BDE, is something only a small amount of people possess. Its the quality of having supreme confidence without needing to be loud or controlling, a quiet understanding of who you are and what you bring to the table that doesnt require backtalk, bragging, or B.S. In short, someone with big dick energy is incredibly hot, and more guys should try to emulate that. The truth is, you can have BDE no matter what your penis size is as long as youre comfortable with who you are.

Etymology: The phrase was coined by Twitter user @imbobswaget in a tweet mourning the June 2018 death of TV personality and chef Anthony Bourdain. It implies that a person (or thing) exudes the confidence that must come with having a large penis and Bourdain's kindness, charm and humble swagger were just that.

Damn, look at that guy over there. Hes totally exuding big dick energy.


Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: by-SEK-shoo-ULL

Bisexual persons are attracted to two genders. In the nineties, we'd have said "bisexual persons are into men and women", but we know a little more about sex and gender than we used to. Swinging both ways, flexible, cross-platform compatible, or rooting for both teams, a bisexual person can enjoy sex with or fall in love with the same gender as themselves, or a different gender from themselves. Bi people might prefer dating one gender and sleeping with another, but we still call 'em bi.

Etymology: A bisexual person is like a bicycle; both share the prefix bi, which means two.

"Mike, why do you call yourself bisexual? You've only ever dated women." "That's true, but I just haven't met a guy I wanted to call my boyfriend yet."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: BREAD-crum-ing

Breadcrumbing is when you send flirty but non-committal messages to a person when you're not really interested in dating them but don't have the guts to break things off with them completely. The breadcrumbee is strung along for the sake of sparing the breadcrumber a confrontation.

Etymology: Think of the phenomenon of getting a small creature to follow you by laying a trail of breadcrumbs here, and you've got the right idea.

"Rene replies to every second or third message I send her but never wants to meet IRL. I think she's breadcrumbing me."


Dating / Type

Pronunciation: KAZH-oo-ull ruh-LAY-shun-ship

Somewhere in between f*ckbuddies and going steady is the casual relationship, in which two people typically hang out regularly and have sex but don't partake in the hallmarks of a serious relationship, like exclusivity, ongoing commitment and spending time with each other's friends and family.

Etymology: This one's pretty straightforward in meaning: it's a romantic relationship that's not too serious or committed.

"I have a friends with benefits type thing going on with Emily, you know? It's a casual relationship."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: KAT-fish-ing

Catfishing is one of those dating terms that has legitimately made its way into the mainstream, thanks to the TV show and movie of the same name. Messaging with someone who's pretending to be someone else? You're being catfished! These setups tend to end badly. But until then, move your conversation with your crush to the phone/IRL/video chat of some sort as soon as you can muster. If they're resistant, they might be catfishing you.

Etymology: The term gained popularity after the release of the 2010 documentary on the then-burgeoning phenomenon, Catfish, but the real reason for the name is harder to come by.

"She always has a different excuse not to meet up with me." "Sounds you're being catfished..."


aka Cis

Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: siss-JENN-der

Cisgender is a term for people who aren't transgender, or whose assigned gender lines up with their actual gender. But isn't that 'normal', you might ask? Actually, it isn't, it's just more common: variations in sex and sexuality are perfectly normal and occur frequently in nature (gender is a little more complicated, as we don't have a theory of mind that encompasses gender for nonhuman animals). While cisgender persons may outnumber transgender persons, it isn't a default setting; it's one of many.

Etymology: From cis-, meaning literally 'on this side of' in mathematics and organic chemistry.

"So what's the opposite of trans, then? Normal?" "Well, no, it's not that simple. But the term you're looking for is 'cis'."


Dating / Type

Pronunciation: KUFF-ing SEE-zun

Cuffing season is the period between early fall and late winter when everyone starts to shack up with the nearest half-decent single person to ward off loneliness and cold during the cooler months. Cuffing season typically implied a short term, mutually beneficial arrangement that's strictly seasonal, and it ends as soon as the leaves start turning green again. The term is African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and has been around at least since the early 2010s.

Etymology: Cuffing, as in "handcuffing", because you're chaining yourself to someone else at least until winter's over.

"Starbucks just brought back the pumpkin spice latte, it must be cuffing season!"


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: KURV

Getting curved is being rejected, shot down, turned aside, said no to, dissed and dismissed. Yes, it sucks. When you get curved you need to take a moment to properly absorb all of the "no" that just hit you. But there's also something beautiful to a well-done curve; it's a memento to a failure, big and small, that you can carry around with you and use to prop up or tear down narratives about your dateability.

Etymology: A curve is often subtler than a flat-out no (think: Your text gets "Seen" but not responded to), so even if it hurts the same, it carries a name that implies a redirection rather than an outright rejection.

"I tried to ask out this babe at the bar last night and she curved me harder than I've ever been curved in my life."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: KUSH-on-ing

As above, cushioning is the process of staying in contact with one or more romantic prospects as a backup in case things don't go smoothly with your main squeeze. The "cushions" are usually kept on the periphery, eg. texting rather than full blown cheating.

Etymology: Cushioning, as in, keeping a person or several people around to "cushion" the blow if your main relationship doesn't work out.

"I do really like Priya, but I'm still texting Sian just in case. Yeah, I guess I'm cushioning."


Dating / Identity

Pronunciation: DAH-dee

Over the past few years, daddy culture has risen to become pretty mainstream. These days, its normal for teens and assorted millennials to use the word daddy in either a sexual or sex-adjacent context. You might call your partner daddy in bed, or you might acknowledge a hot older mans daddy vibes because of his muscles, body hair, facial hair, and personal wealth. Either way, yes, its low-key incestuous, but the people have spoken.

Etymology: From the word daddy, meaning father.

She keeps on texting me, choke me daddy. What the hell does that mean?


Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: DEH-mee-SEK-shoo-ULL

A demisexual is a person whose sex drive is tied not to an immediate visual or physical attraction but to people's personalities once they've gotten to know them. As a result, demisexuals are poor candidates for one-night stands and casual relationships which may make them feel a bit alienated in our current dating climate. But they're no more or less capable of deep, loving relationships as the rest of us, so if you're prepared to take things slow sexually, demisexuals can make for great partners, too.

Etymology: Demi means half, or part positioning demisexuals between asexuals and people who do typically experience sexual desire.

"At first I thought I was asexual, but then I realized I can have sexual desire for people... just not until I really know them!" "Sounds like you might be demisexual."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: DEE-em slide

A DM slide is when you direct message your crush using the private messaging functions available on all of the major social media networks, eg. Twitter and Instagram. You usually need to be mutuals first ie. follow each other to avoid your message ending up in an "other" folder, and DM sliding tends to occur after some public interaction, eg. liking each other's pics or @ replying.

Etymology: DM stands for "direct messages", and "sliding" is the process of entering someone's direct messages to flirt with them.

"Brandy just posted a selfie and she's looking hot AF! I'm about to slide in the DMs."


aka DTR, DTR Convo

Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: dee-tee-ARE con-ver-SAY-shun

A DTR conversation is a pivotal moment in a relationship: It's the moment you discuss what you are. Are you a for-real couple, or just friends with benefits, or a situationship? Timing is huge, here. Have your DTR too early and you risk scaring the other person away; too late and you might discover they've been casually dating around the whole time, assuming it wasn't serious.

Etymology: There's no great mystery here DTR simply stands for "define the relationship."

"It's been six months and I just don't know what we are yet?" "Well have you had a DTR convo with him?


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: EGG-plant ee-MO-ji

There are other sex emojis the peach (a luscious butt) and the water drops (either wetness or ejaculate, depending on your tastes), notably but the eggplant emoji is doubtless the most suggestive. Why? Well, peach and water drops are actually used in other contexts. But when was the last time you needed to use a damn eggplant emoji to signify eggplant?

Etymology: People just noticed that the eggplant emoji was phallic-looking. The rest is history.

"Wow, did you see that bulge? Man, I'd love to see his eggplant emoji, if you know what I mean."


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: eh-MUR-jun-see KOL

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 from the earliest moments (and you often can) but you're genuinely afraid of insulting the stranger you're sitting across from, a fake emergency call from a friend saying "Your brother's in the hospital" or "Your cat just died" early on in the evening can be a real lifesaver.

"Oh, God, thanks for agreeing to be my emergency call last night. What a nightmare date that was."


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: FIE-er DOH-ring

This is the dating version of the one-way fire door on rare occasions, someone will come out of their shell to contact you, but won't respond if you attempt to get in touch. It's a setup that only works in deeply unequal situations if you're getting firedoored, you're constantly feeling frustrated and only occasionally satisfied. If this is happening to you, get out and close the door behind you. There are tons of people out there who won't do this to you!

Etymology: A fire door is a one-way door it allows you to exit (on rare occasions) but never allows anyone to enter.

"She never responds to my messages, but texts me 'u up' at 1 a.m.? What's the deal?" "Sounds like you're getting firedoored, bud."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: FRECK-uh-ling

Just as cooler temperatures bring out cuffing season and associated coupling up, warmer temperatures change peoples dating behaviors. If someone only seems interested in you during the warmer months, it might be a case of freckling. Maybe they got out of a relationship of sorts during the spring and now that its summertime, youre on their hookup roster. Unfortunately, theyre not looking for anything serious or permanent just like freckles, theyll disappear come fall.

Etymology: From freckles, small patches of facial skin that darken during the summer for some people with pale skin.

"Its been three weeks since school started and I havent heard anything I think she was just freckling me."


aka FWB

Identity / Dating

Pronunciation: FRENDS with BEN-eh-fits

Friends with benefits is the relatively classy way of saying you know someone and care about them and are regularly engaging in sexual acts with them, but not within the context of a relationship. It implies a certain looseness of arrangement. You probably don't see each other as often as a real couple; don't tell each other all the details of your lives; don't put each other down on emergency contact forms (or mention each other on social media profiles). That doesn't mean you're cold, unfeeling robots; it just means a relationship isn't exactly what you want.

"So what are we? Is this a relationship? Or are we just friends?" "I think we're friends... with benefits."


aka F*ckfriends

Identity / Dating

Pronunciation: FUK-buh-deez

Isn't that... basically friends with benefits? Yes, arguably, they're pretty similar. At the same time, though, the use of the F-word in one of the terms (compared to the very euphemistic "benefits" denotes a very different sexual ethos. One is classy, old world, and stuffy; the other is crass, lewd and very present. So, arguably, one is for the type of people who are ashamed of such a sexual arrangement, and one is for people who aren't. Or maybe how you describe your setup depends more on who's asking. Whatever works!

Etymology: F*ck means sex... buddies means friends... should be pretty straightforward.

"I met this great girl. We've been seeing each other a lot... just for sex, though, no dates. We're f*ckbuddies."


Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: GAY

This term is one of the more flexible on the list, but, generally speaking, someone who identifies as gay is exclusively attracted to, or exclusively dates, or exclusively has sex with, people who are the same gender as themselves but it's a term that's been reclaimed by many across the spectrum of sexuality so if you see a queer woman proclaim she's gay despite dating men too, it's not necessarily the contradiction you think it is.

"Carol, would you like to grab coffee with me this weekend?" "Sure, Jim, but as friends. You do know I'm gay, right?"


Identity / Gender

Pronunciation: JEN-der-FLOO-id

Can be applied to people who feel outside the gender binary, or it can be applied to persons who feel that their gender isn't fixed, but variable changing from day to day. Unlike nonbinary persons, a genderfluid person might identify as male and female, on different days, whereas a nonbinary person will usually identify as neither male nor female. Someone's gender identity has nothing to do with whom they're attracted to, or what they look like on the outside, or what physical sex they were born as. Gender is a mental conception of the self, so a genderfluid person can present as any gender or appearance, based on how that term feels for them.

Etymology: Gender, as in, your gender. Fluid, as in flowing, non-stable, movable, changeable.

"Hey, could you ask Scout if I could have her number? I need to ask her about this chem assignment." "Hey, buddy, I'll definitely ask for you, but you should know that Scout's not a 'she' they're genderfluid."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: GO-sting

Ghosting is when you disappear out of someone's life because you're no longer interested in them, instead of telling them directly. It's more abrupt than breadcrumbing: the ghoster will suddenly stop replying to texts and won't answer calls, and the ghostee is usually left hurt and confused.

Etymology: You know the disappearing act ghosts are known for? That, but it's your crush instead of a poltergeist.

"I'm not really feeling Melissa anymore, but she's really into me. I think I'm just gonna ghost her."


Dating / Type

Pronunciation: HAFF nite STAND

The traditional one-night stand involves meeting a sexually-attractive stranger and taking them home for a night of unattached sex: they leave in the morning and you don't see them again. Well, the half-night stand cuts out the staying over part: the late night guest leaves straight after the sex is over.

Etymology: A half-night stand is 50 per cent of a one-night stand get it?

"Joe was lazy in bed and wouldn't give me head, so I got out of there as soon as he fell asleep. I guess I've had a half-night stand now!"


aka Zombieing

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: HAWN-ting

Haunting occurs when you think you have finished things with a date that didn't work out or even a serious relationship but then you notice signs that your ex is lurking your social media feeds, eg. they randomly like old Instagram pics or watch your daily stories. Often the notifications are a deliberate attempt to remind you that they exist.

Etymology: This is another supernatural dating metaphor but the meaning is almost the opposite of ghosting: in this case the offender lingers around rather than disappearing.

"Guess who watched my Instagram story today, of all people!? John! He's haunting me, and it's really creepy."


aka Virgin

Identity / Celibacy

Pronunciation: IN-sell

Incel is a term that became popular on Reddit to describe men who can't get laid. The term, as a descriptor, is doubly demeaning. Not only is no one attracted to incels, but they also have a stupid name to describe them. Most incel problems could be sorted out by putting in minimal effort into looking better and having more positive interactions with women, but that's none of our business. Incel's slightly less embarrassing cousin is volcel the voluntarily celibate.

Etymology: Incel is a portmanteau of the phrase "involuntarily celibate" someone who's sexually inactive but wishes they could be.

"Ugh, I haven't had sex in almost three years. I'm such an incel."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: KIT-in-FISH-ing

Coined by dating app Hinge, Kittenfishing is when you portray yourself in an unrealistically positive light in your online dating profiles. We all do this to some extent, but kittenfishing crosses the border into dishonest territory: think photoshopped or very outdated profile pics, or listing "lawyer" as your occupation when you're really a first year law student.

Etymology: You already know about catfishing, when a person pretends to be someone they're not online. Well, kittenfishing is the lite version of that.

"Remember that girl I was messaging on Tinder? Well, we met IRL, and she was definitely kittenfishing."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: LEFT awn RED or LEFT awn REED

You send a text to your crush and wait for their reply, giddy with excitement. Maybe youre asking them out on a date, or maybe youre just trying to start a conversation. Regardless, rather than a reply, you simply get a read receipt. Read at 2:39 p.m. Then nothing. If youre watching the convo like a hawk, you might get the indignity of seeing them start to type a reply and then give up. Its a demoralizing feeling to be left on read. Its also a good reason not to use read receipts.

Etymology: From the phrase read receipt, a notification visible in a chat or text window when a person has seen a message but not responded.

"Is he still leaving you on read? You need to get over him ASAP."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: LAH-ker-ing

If youve ever experienced someone ditching you by claiming theyre studying when in fact theyre just not interested, what you felt was lockering. For high-school sweethearts starting college at separate schools, this could be a prelude to a Thanksgiving breakup, better known as a turkey dump. Since the main feature of lockering is the claim that nothings wrong, theyre just focusing on their studies, it could occur at any point during your time in school.

Etymology: From the word locker, a small, typically locked space for your personal belongings in a large public building such as a school.

"How come youre always studying and you never have time to catch up? Are you lockering me?"


Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: ELL-jee-bee-tee-CUE

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning), and its an acronym that's used to include the whole of a bunch of different communities of people whose sexualities or gender identities place them outside of the mainstream both historically and today. Some incarnations of the term include groups like intersex people, asexuals; and often the final Q is omitted in popular discourse. Nevertheless, it's a useful term when you're trying to refer to several, often intersecting groups of people at once.

"I love all my LGBTQ friends!"


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: LUV BOM-ing

Love bombing is when a new partner shows extreme amounts of affection early on and expends serious energy in a deliberate attempt to woo you. However, once you've committed to a relationship with them, the love bomber will withdraw all that affection and let their true, ugly colors shine through, leaving you stuck in a nightmare relationship. This one's really not cute: love bombing is manipulative and abusive.

Etymology: Like its literal counterpart, a love bomb is awesome and spectacular at first, but ultimately very destructive.

"Graeme was so sweet at first, but now he's manipulative and jealous all the time. I guess he love bombed me."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: MY-cro-CHEA-ting

Microcheating is a form of infidelity that stops short of the full-blown, overt cheating that occurs when a person sleeps with someone else behind their partner's back, but is low-level, cumulative dishonesty and infidelity that is intolerable in a committed relationship. Think heavy flirting, tonnes of secrecy, furtive kissy-face emojis and emotional affairs.

Etymology: If you think of cheating behaviors as existing on a scale, these ones are on the more minor end.

"I've never caught Imogen sleeping with anyone else, but she's constantly flirting with other guys and texts everyone except me. In my opinion, she's microcheating."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: NET-flicks and CHILL

In its original inception, "Netflix and chill" was a euphemism for a stay-at-home date that led to sex pretty quickly. The idea being: You invite your crush over under the premise of "just watching some Netflix and chilling" and then either abandon the movie pretty early or perhaps never even get to it, as hooking up becomes the main attraction.

"How'd it go?" "Well, I invited him over for a little Netflix and chill... you can guess what happened next."


Identity / Gender

Pronunciation: non-BYE-nuh-ree

A non-binary person isn't cisgender, they are transgender. But not all transgender persons identify as the 'opposite' gender they were born as; in fact, many reject the idea that there are 'opposite' genders at all. A non-binary person may identify as neither male or female, or both male and female, or as a traditional gender to their culture (such as two-spirited or third gender). It's polite to use 'they' as a default pronoun until instructed otherwise if you're unsure about someone's gender. Never assume!

Etymology: The prefix non- is modifying the noun 'binary', nullifying the idea that gender exists as only two options.

"I thought Padraic was trans? Why doesn't Padraic want to be referred to as 'she'?" "Padraic is trans, but they're nonbinary, not femme!"


Dating / Type

Pronunciation: OH-pin ruh-LAY-shun-ship

An open relationship is a committed, romantic relationship that contains an arrangement where both parties can sleep with other people. It's not cheating, because both parties are honest with each other and have the same freedom to engage in sex with other people. Open relationships often contain specific rules and boundaries, just like monogamous relationships, but "no sex with anyone else, ever!" isn't one of them.

Etymology: The opposite of a traditional, "closed" relationship, an open relationship relaxes the rules on monogamy.

"I love Max, but I think we'd both benefit from a bit more sexual freedom. I'm thinking of asking him for an open relationship."


Dating / Move


Unlike with ghosting or zombieing (a term you'll find if you keep scrolling), theres no text, call or other form of communication that initiates anything. In this case, you'll see a notification, get your hopes up, but find they never actually reach out.Just rememeber: if someone really wants to date you, theyd probably make more of an effort than tapping on a like button.

Etymology: Just as the planets revolve around the sun with no direct interaction, this person checks all your social media accounts without ever saying a word.

"Hmm ... watches my Instagram story, likes my photos, reads my DMs, but doesn't respond. Yep, I'm being orbited."


Graeme Adams

Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: pan-SEK-shoo-ull

Some people, for whatever reason believe that the term bisexual doesn't apply to them. Maybe they're a woman who's attracted to women, men, and nonbinary people. Or maybe they feel like their sexuality is too fluid for a simpler label. Some people have adopted pansexual because it doesn't reinforce the gender binary through its name.

Etymology: Pan-, meaning all; someone who is attracted to all persons and genders.

"So are you still bisexual?" "Well, ever since my partner transitioned I feel like the word 'pansexual' suits me better, you know?"


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: FUH-bing

Ever been hanging out with a date or significant other only to notice theyre paying too much attention to their phone? Thats a case of phubbing. Its a pretty ugly word, but honestly, its a pretty ugly act. With people using technology to stay in constant connection to their friends and followers, it can be easy to forget about the person right in front of you. A consistent phubber is sending a message, intentionally or otherwise, that youre simply not the top priority, their phone is.

Etymology: A combination of phone and snubbing.

"Man, every time me and Mark hang out, hes always on Instagram when Im talking to him. I feel so phubbed."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: PIE HUNT-ing

As you can probably deduce, pie hunting is an unsavory dating phenomenon in which a person (the "hunter") deliberately dates "pies", or heartbroken, vulnerable people with messy dating histories, who are perceived to be easier and lower-maintenance.

Etymology: A "pie" is a person with a disastrous dating history familiar with rejection and heartbreak. It comes from "pied off", British slang for being stood up or dumped.

"Dave only ever dates divorcees. He's a real pie-hunter."


aka Poly

Identity / Dating

Pronunciation: paw-lee-AM-oh-riss

In its various forms, polyamory has been a part of human culture for millennia, particularly in the form of polygamous marriages, but it's enjoying a resurgence in modern dating culture as millennials (children of divorce faced with untold levels of choice) break with monogamous tradition and begin exploring their options. It's not a free-for-all there are still rules, and cheating does exist but consensually dating (and loving) multiple people at once could represent the future of dating.

Etymology: Polyamorous comes from the Greek poly (many) and amor (love), meaning many loves.

"To be honest, Camille and I are thinking of experimenting with being polyamorous."


Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: KWEER

The word has been reclaimed by those communities as a positive term. 'Queer' is often treated as the 'umbrella' term under which gay men, pansexual non-binary persons, and people experimenting with their sexuality can come together under. It's a term of solidarity to foster community between sexuality-and-gender-diverse persons. Queer is one of the more amorphous terms on this list, and is used by queer persons to describe themselves. So what does it mean? Basically, 'not straight', in any flavor you like, and usually with a slightly more radical edge.

Etymology: Originally meaning 'strange', 'queer' was used for years as a slur against non-normative sexualities.

"Not gay as in happy, but queer as in 'screw off.'"


Identity / Celibacy

Pronunciation: RED-pill

If you decide, once and for all, that women are bad and society is set up in such a way to privilege them over men at every turn, you're completely off your rocker but you've also had a redpill moment. You'll probably want to head to Reddit and swap stories with other incels and MGTOWs about how women are ruining your lives.

Etymology: Redpilling is named for the scene in The Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo the choice between taking a red pill and a blue pill with the red one representing the horrifying truth and the blue, blissful ignorance.

"Yeah, my brother totally got redpilled in his first year at college. Yikes."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: ROW-ching

Roaching is a new dating trend where people hide the fact that they're dating around from a new partner and, when confronted, claim to have simply been under the assumption that there was no implication of monogamy to begin with. In today's more poly-friendly dating culture, this is a slick tactic to shift the blame to the person confronting them, but the truth is it's both parties' responsibility to be at least baseline open about seeing other people if that's the case. Roaching, as a result, deeply messed up.

Etymology: Roaching refers to the adage that if you see one cockroach, there are a ton more that you don't see just like this person's sneaky side-dealings.

"So it turned out he'd been seeing like, six other girls the whole time!" "Damn, Tina. You got roached."


Identity / Dating

Pronunciation: SAY-pee-oh-SEK-shoo-ull

Perhaps most infamous for the time Tinder CEO Sean Rad confused it with the word "sodomy," sapiosexual is a word that's gained increasing currency in recent years. Meaning someone who's turned on by a person's mind rather than physical appearance, it's a neat marriage of style and substance, as only huge nerds would dare self-identify as sapiosexuals. Not to be confused with any of the other sexualities, this isn't a clinical definition of an innate quality, merely a descriptor meant to state a preference.

Etymology: The "sapio" part comes from the Latin word "sapiens," which means "mind."

"What really entices me about a woman... is her mind. Yes, you could call me a sapiosexual."


Sex / Trend

Pronunciation: SEV-rull NITE STAND

If the one-night stand was a product of the 20th century's loosening sexual mores, the several-night stand is a distinctly 21st-century invention. For people who care about someone else enough to sleep with them multiple times but not enough to take it past that, it's an arrangement that necessitates the hyper-connectedness and smorgasbrd of choice that our phones now offer us. Your drunken hookup is just a text away; but exclusivity seems foolish when your next drunken hookup might also be just a text away.

"Well, we kept on texting each other 'u up' every evening and it basically turned into a several-night stand."


Sex / Trend

Pronunciation: SECKS INN-tur-vyou

Have you ever had sex with someone before going on a real date with them? Then you've engaged in a sex interview, my friend! Sex researchers (yes, that's a real job) coined the term in 2015 to describe the practice, which is increasingly popular among millennials who are less shy about sex and more interested in weeding out incompatible lovers than so-so conversationalists. If you have high standards for sex, it makes a lot of sense the possibility of developing real intimacy and chemistry with someone only to discover you're nothing alike in bed is a real turn-off of its own.

"So what's the deal with you and Brandon? Is that happening?" "Nah. He's still messaging me, but to be honest, he failed his sex interview."


Dating / Type

Pronunciation: SIT-chew-AY-shun-ship

In use on Black Twitter since at least 2014, a "situationship" is Facebook's "It's Complicated" relationship status come to life. Similar to a casual relationship, a situationship is a sexual relationship that stops short of constituting a serious relationship, but it's not nothing either.

Etymology: It's not a friendship, or a relationship, but something in between: it's a situationship.

"So what's the deal with you and Molly now? Are you together?" "I don't know, man. It's a situationship."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: SLOW fade

The slow fade is the process of ending a lackluster relationship or fling by gradually reducing contact and response times. Like a smoother version of breadcrumbing, the person doing the fading will taper off contact, like gradually turning down the volume on a song and starting a new one without anyone noticing.

Etymology: Similar to breadcrumbing, the slow fade is letting someone down gently without actually saying so.

"I want to end things with Lee, but I can't stand the idea of hurting him. I think I'm gonna do the slow fade."


Identity / Dating

Pronunciation: SNAK

A snack is a babe, a honey, a stunner, a smokeshow, a jaw-dropping vision. A snack inspires DM slides and thirsty texts. A snack is a powerful force in the universe whose mere presence can cause those in proximity to them to lose their minds entirely. In short, a snack is someone so attractive, you almost want to eat them right up. Of course, some snacks are SO attractive, you have to call them a full meal. Because let's be real, Beyonc is more than a handful of tortilla chips.

"God damn, did you see that babe who just walked by?" "Yeah, man, that girl was a snack!"


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: STA-shing

"Stashing" is when a person won't introduce the person they're seeing to anyone in their lives, and doesn't mention their existence on social media. The "stashed" partner is kept hidden from view and stashing is a classic move of the commitment-averse.

Etymology: Stashing a partner is hiding them away from public view, like a squirrel stashing nuts in a tree.

"Maria won't introduce me to any of her friends or family. I think I'm being stashed."


Sex / Trend

Pronunciation: STELL-thing

With all the cute names, it's easy to forget sometimes that not all dating trends are created equal. Take stealthing, for example, which is just a form of sexual assault. Named for when guys surreptitiously remove a condom mid-sexual act, enabling them to finish the deed unprotected, stealthing is a horrifying reminder that consent and sexual health education are woefully lacking in modern society.

Etymology:Stealthing is necessarily a sneaky move, since it involvesremoving the condom and keeping it a secret.

"When we started, he was wearing a condom, but halfway through I realized he wasn't!" "Oh my God, he stealthed you?


Identity / Sexuality

Pronunciation: STRATE

Straight persons are attracted to, date, or have sex with only members of the 'opposite' gender. Some people might have crushes on the same gender as themselves, but never follow through, and still identify as straight. Sexuality is wild, man!

Etymology: Straight means heterosexual, mostly.

"I'm flattered you'd think to ask me out, Zander, but I'm straight."


Graeme Adams

Dating / Move

Pronunciation: sub-muh-REE-ning

Did you just get haunted, or zombied, but it felt even worse than usual? Maybe you were submarined! Submarining is when your old flame pops back up in your life after a lengthy period of silence, but rather than copping to the disappearance, simply acts as if dipping without warning is normal behavior. This person knows they have you wrapped around their finger, so why put in the effort to apologize or explain? They don't need to! If you're getting submarined, pro tip: Get out of there before the whole thing sinks.

Etymology: Submarines go underwater... and the occasionally pop back up to the surface! That's normal behavior for them.

"So after disappearing for two months, she just pops right back up!" "Damn... she submarined you!


Dating / Type

Pronunciation: SUM-mer FLING

The counterpart to cuffing season, summer flings are casual relationships that end once the leaves start to turn brown again. Summer flings often start on vacations and end when the other person has to go home, and tend to be of the "short and sweet" variety.

Etymology: This one's not rocket science: a summer fling is a short, informal relationship over the warmer months.

"I had such a good time with Nicole in Cabo but it was definitely just a summer fling."


Identity / Dating

Pronunciation: SWING-ur

The de facto term for consensually sleeping with someone outside of your marriage while your partner does the same, swinging has lost some cultural currency in recent years as millennials opt for the "poly" lifestyle instead. Still, swinging is alive and well for Gen Xers taking advantage of increasingly liberal sexual mores as society shifts slowly away from the restrictive confines of absolute monogamy and towards something a little bit more flexible.

Etymology: Swingers are people who 'swing' from one sexual partnership (their spouse) to another.

"Yeah, this married couple asked us if we wanted to come to a swingers party with them."'


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: SWHY-ping

Swiping, swiping, swiping. For some singles, it might be difficult to conceive of any other way, but it's worth remembering that swiping didn't even really exist before 2012. Unless you've been living under a rock (and if so: congratulations, you lucky duck), you'll know that swiping is the physical interaction you have with your phone (a single finger moves intentionally across a thin piece of glass covering an electronic brain) when deciding whether you're attracted to someone's profile picture or not. From Tinder it spread to Bumble and a few thousand copycat apps. It'll be replaced eventually, but until then, swiping is how we as a culture perform love or at least our aspirations thereto.

"No plans tonight... I'm just going to stay home, re-download Tinder and swipe myself silly."


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: text-LAY-shun-ship

A textlationship is a flirtatious connection between two people that works on paper but never seems to manifest itself in practice. For whatever reason, the chemistry between two people is just better over texts. It could mean one of the two is playing the other just for the attention, rather than both parties being shy or awkward. Regardless, if the passion is there in the texts but never translates to the streets or the sheets, its a textlationship.

Etymology: A combination of text and relationship.

"Shes always texting me but never wants to actually go on a date or hook up. Honestly, we might just be in a textlationship."


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: THURST trap

In the natural world, spiders have webs, and millennials have thirst traps. They're intentionally sexually provocative pictures posted on social media in order to ensnare hapless scrollers-by. Often, such pictures will draw way more likes than their typical posts, as thirsty people rush to offer their likes as sacrifices to an uncaring god. These can be a great ego boost for the thirst trapper, but the high tends not to last. Then you're back on the timeline, thirst trapping again for your next fix.

Etymology: Thirst is desire, sexual or romantic, that tends to be unreturned; a trap is how you catch unsuspecting victims.

"Damn, did you see Sheila's selfie last night? That outfit was wild!" "Yep, that was a real thirst trap."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: thr-OWN-ing

Throning is essentially another form of gold digging that extends beyond wealth. It involves someone using another person for their power and social status, and it's most common when one person in the relationship has significantly less money or influence than their counterpart.

Etymology: When you think of a throne, you think of a crown. That person doing the throning wants that crown.

"Every time we cross that rope, we get inside and suddenly it's like I'm not even there. I feel like I'm just being throned."


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: TIND-stuh-gram-ming

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, and 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.

Etymology: A mashup of "Tinder" and "Instagramming," Tindstagrammers try to make the most of both platforms.

"I have 10 new messages in my Other folder on Instagram! These Tindstagrammers won't leave me alone."


Identity / Gender

Pronunciation: trans-JEN-der

At birth, (even before, if you've ever been to a gender reveal party), pretty much all of us are assigned a gender, whether by our doctor, our parents, or society. Transgender or trans persons are those whose actual gender is different from the one they were assigned. Some trans people undergo surgery or take hormones to have their sex characteristics better match their gender, but not everyone does! Transgender, or trans, like queer is often an umbrella for those with diverse genders.

Etymology: Trans-, meaning across or beyond, plus gender

"So I hear Paul's cousin is transgendered now." "Actually, she's just transgender no 'ed' necessary!"


Dating / Type

Pronunciation: TUR-key DUMP

Another seasonal relationship event, turkey dumping is common among college students, many of whom are in long distance relationships with people they knew in high school or from their home towns. The turkey dump happens after one person in the relationship returns back to college after Thanksgiving and realises it's too difficult to keep things going.

Etymology: So-named because it's a breakup that occurs after the Thanksgiving break.

"I had such a good time with Jake while he was home for Thanksgiving, but he broke up with me as soon as he got back to campus. I got turkey dumped."


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: un-CUFF-ing SEE-sun

What sets cuffing season relationships apart from real relationships is the possibility that they came together at a specific time for a specific reason. You could link up with someone in the fall, because as it gets cold, you want something steady and dependable so you arent chasing a bunch of different people all winter. As a corollary, once those conditions fall away, it makes sense that the relationships would, too. The springtime can be considered uncuffing season because its the time for people to break things off with a semi-serious cuff and venture out into a sexy and flirtatious summer.

Etymology: A variant on cuffing season.

"Man, how many couples have broken up in the past few weeks? Is it uncuffing season already?"


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: vul-CHUR-ing

Vultures can sense when a relationship is on its last leg. Their moves are selfish, and typically, they're going to do whatever they deem necessary to get what they want: you. Sure, having a bit of hope that your longtime crush will split from their wretched partner and fall for you might not be considered vulturing per se, but taking advantage of. someone in an incredibly weak and vulnerable state? That's a whole other story.

Etymology: Just like a vulture circling its wounded prey, some people swoop in to pick up the pieces out when they sense a relationship is on its last leg.

"Stop vulturing, it's just a rough patch. They'll get through it!"


Dating / Trend

Pronunciation: WAH-turr DROP-lits ee-MO-ji

After the eggplant emoji, the water droplets emoji might be the horniest one out there. One notable benefit is that its unisex. Depending on who you are and who youre messaging, the droplets could be semen, female lubrication/ejaculate, or a bit of the comparatively tame (and universal) sex sweat. Regardless, throwing a couple of these into a naughty text message is a good way to visually convey the activities to come if you will.

Etymology: Anyone whos ever made a mess with their sexual fluids will understand.

Cant wait for later tonight. Im gonna make you water droplets emoji all over the place.


Dating / Move

Pronunciation: zom-BEE-ing

This is ghosting to. the next level. After losing touch with someone who you'd been talking or seeing, zombieing is when they make a triumphant return as if nothing ever happened.Your zombie may get in touch with you via DM, text or by seeking you out in person. Hearing from someone who totally dipped out on you can bring up some conflicting feelings, but if youre looking for a positive, the situation does have the potential to offer some clarity or closure.

Etymology:A zombie is an undead person coming back from the grave. Need we say more here?

3 months of radio silence after we texted every single day. I can't believe he's zombieing me ... should I answer?

All illustrations by Graeme Adams.

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