October 18, 2019

The dating landscape has evolved exponentially in the past decade, making way for new types of relationships and courtship practices. With it comes a new lexicon to describe the thrills and perils of online dating. Although many of them stem from the rise of social media and dating apps, most of these terms have probably been around since time immemorial—just that there wasn’t a specific word pegged to each individual phenomenon at the time. With this mini dictionary of 21st century online dating slang, you won’t have to struggle to articulate yourself any longer. Here are 19 new words to add to your vocabulary.

Breadcrumbing: It is a phenomenon where a person intentionally and romantically leads someone on with coquettish messages through text or social media, even though they have no desire to get serious or meet up. Such noncommittal, emotionally manipulative folks like the feeling of being wanted, and need a temporary romantic fill-in to alleviate their loneliness and stroke their ego as they wait for someone better to get into a relationship with.

Caspering: This is supposedly a friendlier version of ghosting, where you inform someone that you’re not interested in them, before vanishing completely from their life. It may include a vague compliment, which is followed by a pithy explanation of why the relationship is not going to work out.

Cushioning: It is a form of micro-cheating, where you amass a sideline of potential suitors (by casually flirting with them and getting them interested in you) whilst in a relationship. In case your current relationship falls apart, you’ll at least have someone else waiting for you, ready to be the replacement.

Deepliking: It refers to stalking someone you fancy on social media, going through their old pictures and posts from many years ago, and liking them. It’s used as a way to convey your interest in another person, get their attention and subsequently a date with them. 

Dogfishing: Inspired by the term, catfishing (where users of dating apps pretend to be someone they’re not to attract a potential date), this phenomenon occurs when someone uses a selfie with a dog as their profile picture on a dating app, despite the cuddly canine not being theirs. People tend to swipe right because of how adorable the dog is, which also makes its faux owner seem more nurturing and attractive.

Fireworking: This occurs when you’re only dating someone to show them off. They may be unbelievably attractive, but you’re not actually interested in them. You’re just using them to make an ex jealous, satisfy your parents, impress your social circle, or generally improve other people’s perceptions of you.

Ghosting: This refers to cutting a person out of your life without offering any closure or warning. Instead of officially breaking up with a partner, for instance, you resort to the cowardly, non-confrontational strategy of no longer replying their text messages, ignoring their calls, and at times blocking them on social media.

Ghostbusting: This is the opposite of ghosting, where you keep spamming the other person—someone who’s trying to ghost you—with messages and calls in an effort to force them to respond. You realise you’re being ghosted, and call your partner out on their avoidant behaviour.

Kittenfishing: An offshoot of catfishing, this phenomenon occurs when you present a more polished version of yourself on a dating app. You may edit your pictures and use filters to enhance certain features, or use an outdated picture of yourself back when you still had hair and a high metabolism. You may also tell white lies that make you seem more attractive. While you’re not pretending to be someone else, you’re not fully presenting an accurate image of yourself either.

Love Bombing: It is a form of abuse, which starts with someone showering you with intense declarations of love and making sweeping statements within a few weeks of meeting you. They operate under the guise of “love at first sight”, but once they’ve won you over, they’ll withdraw all affection and begin the emotional abuse—for instance, getting upset at you for hanging out with your friends instead of them.

Masturdating: This refers to the self-loving act of taking yourself out on a date, engaging in all sorts of couple-y activities such as dining at a fancy restaurant and buying flowers for yourself.

Monkeying: It refers to swinging like a monkey from relationship to relationship without any breaks in between to be by yourself. Those who are guilty of this are likely uncomfortable with the idea of being single.

Orbiting: This baffling act is when someone you’re casually dating decides to ghost you, yet keep you in their orbit and theirs in yours by subtly engaging with you online. They’re not going to speak to you ever again, but they’ll like your social media posts, watch your Instagram stories, share your Facebook entries, and make sure you’ll never forget them.

Shaveducking: This happens when you’re unsure if you’re only attracted to your partner because of their beard. Without the facial hair, you wonder how different they’ll look and whether you’ll still find them attractive. As a result, you convince them never to shave it off.

Sidebarring: It refers to the discourteous act of using your cellphone excessively to check for notifications, scroll through social media, or text your friends, family and colleagues, while on a date. Some may do it discreetly. Others may be more blatant. This could also refer to texting someone else about the person you’re with, while you’re with them without them knowing.

Slow-fading: This version of ghosting makes sure that instead of a sudden disappearance, you’re gently and slowly distancing yourself from the other person. It takes the form of slower and sparser text replies, and dead-end conversations, culminating in total silence by the end of it. 

Sneating: It refers typically to women who go out on dates just for the free food. These cheapskates may lurk on a diversity of dating apps, so they’re able to score multiple first dates, one for each day of the week, and thus get a free dinner every day. Often, they have no intention of engaging the other party in a conversation or progressing the relationship beyond the first three dates.

Stashing: This describes being in a serious relationship with someone who is, however, reluctant to introduce you to their friends and family. They’re also not likely to announce or post about the relationship online, as if they’re trying to keep you a secret.

Submarining: This is a form of ghosting, where you ignore a person’s text messages and cut them out of your life for a considerable period of time, before returning and making contact again as if nothing’s wrong. Much like a submarine, these people vanish into the depths of the sea and resurface every now and then without warning.