We've Gotta Have it
The New Dating Slang: A Glossary for the Clueless
Are you being Caspered? Or is he just a Flying Monkey? A guide for those 40+
With their swiping left and swiping right, millennials own the dating scene today. And just like the Eskimos who have 50 words for snow, they have invented dozens of words for how to communicate about the topic. To help guide the uninitiated, TheCovey has created a glossary of slang dating terms to help us 40+ “speak millennial” when on the scene or at the (virtual) office watercooler.
Even if you’re happily married you’ll have a giggle over how complicated today’s twentysomethings and thirtysomethings have made dating and relationships.
Note: This list was compiled from conversations with people in their 20s and 30s (many related to me), studies by dating sites, as well as research through articles and modern references such as Urban Dictionary. Let us know if you have something to add!
P.S. My personal favorite is “Shaveducking” — that is, fear that you are dating someone only because you like his beard. For seven years, I’ve been dating a gentleman with a beard but have found that I still love him even when he shaves it all off every summer. I am confident, therefore, that I am not a victim (or would I be the perpetrator?) of this dating crime.
Casting many messages out on many dating apps to see who bites.
Just like in sports, when you’re on the bench, you’re a reserve player. In the millennial dating world, if you and your new partner are both “free agents” — i.e., you haven’t had the “let’s be exclusive” talk — you may simply be the other person’s backup plan if nobody better comes along. You are a “just in case.”
Similar but different from benching. When you’re “cushioning,” you’ve read the tea leaves and believe a breakup is inevitable, but you don’t want to be the one to initiate the breakup. So you prepare for the blow (aka the breakup) by flirting with other people. You cushion the blow for yourself, for the day when the other person announces, “We need to break up.”
This term combines the concepts of “if it’s meant to be” with “the grass is always greener.” So, serendipidating means you are putting off a date just in case someone better comes along.
Catch and release
In 20th-century terms, this is the playboy who likes the thrill of the chase but is no longer interested once he (or she) has caught you — that is, once you have agreed to a date. There will be lots of flirtation — which can be fun — but if you don’t know the game, you’ll be confused and possibly disappointed when it leads to a dead end.
The modern-day vernacular of “stringing you along.” Lots of texts, calls, and even plan-making, but the person really has no intention of following through.
Flirting for the sake of flirting without any interest in anything further.
Not a new term, generally speaking. To “hear crickets” means you’ve reached out to someone but have heard nothing back (even though you know they’ve heard you). In millennial-speak, “cricketing” means someone has the read receipts “on” (so you know they have read your text), but the person hasn’t texted back — often for days.
Simply put — disappearing, but with a little twist. In the mid-20th century (before answering machines), this meant you’d make someone else in your home answer the phone and pretend that you were out, or sleeping, or in the shower … and then never return the person’s call. In the late-20th century it meant “screening your calls” on your answering machine. It’s the coward’s way of saying, “I’m no longer interested.” Since smartphones have a “read” receipts option, ghosting is also called R-bombing: You know the person has read your text, but they don’t reply.
A Ghostbuster is a person who continues to text and call even when they have been ghosted.
A bit like ghosting, but in slo-mo. The slow fader first becomes less responsive to texts and calls, starts canceling plans, and eventually stops making new plans.
Since Casper was “the friendly ghost,” this is the nice version of ghosting. The person lets you know they are going to disappear. Which essentially means they break up with you, just not in person.
This is when the person who ghosted you comes back to life. With a simple “hey” text (or by liking or commenting on FB or Instagram posts), the person resurfaces after being out of touch for a long time, pretty much acting as if they’d never disappeared.
Coined by the dating site eHarmony, Marleying (which is not in Urban Dictionary) is when you are zombied during the Christmas season, specifically. The name comes from the character in A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley, who haunted Scrooge. According to Mirror UK, the dating site’s survey found that one in 10 singles have been contacted by an ex during the holidays.
When someone with whom you’ve broken up won’t reply to texts or calls, but they watch what’s going on in your life through your social media posts.
Orbiting is a bit like haunting, but is digitally-based. After ghosting you, the orbiter stays in your life by orbiting your social media world, liking posts and watching your Instagram stories.
The term was coined by the 2010 documentary film Catfish. It means you’ve been lured into an online relationship by someone who is pretending to be someone else. The catfish has used someone else’s name, photo, job description, etc.
A less severe form of catfishing, kittenfishing is when you’ve been fooled into believing the lies a potential date tells you about who he (she) is. Lies are usually about age (an old photo is provided), job, height, etc. As soon as you meet the individual, you see the truth for yourself.
Flexting is defined both as the act of digital flirting (Urban Dictionary) as well as the act of “digital boasting.” A study conducted by Plenty of Fish dating site suggests that 47 percent of single people have been on the receiving end of a flexter who has exaggerated about who they are, what they do, or how they look. According to the market research, men “flext” more than women, with 63 percent of women who date online saying they’ve met a “flexter” versus only 38 percent of men.
This is a courtship term used by animal behaviorists: To get a female’s attention, a male peacock displays its elaborate feathers (other animals do this as well). Peacocking in human dating means that one person puts on a kind of show to get another’s attention — dressing up in attention-grabbing clothing or colors, showing off musical talents, or throwing around money.
Pretty much what hibernating animals do with respect to food — that is, prepare for a long, dark winter. In millennial terms, cuffing season is when people prepare for a long dark winter by compromising on what they are looking for in a mate to avoid a lonely winter. Cuffing season begins in the fall when singles realize that the winter months will be a lot “warmer” with some company.
It’s what we used to call a summer fling. As summer turns to fall and your freckles fade, so too does your summer romance.
A love bomber moves a relationship forward very quickly — declaring his or her love for you within weeks of dating. Be warned: the person is likely manipulative. He or she may say that you are everything they have ever needed and wanted, and the person may pretend to be what you have always needed and wanted. This may be a red flag for a toxic person simply trying to reel you in. By the time they expose their real personality, you may be deep into a relationship and believe that their real personality is a reaction to something you have done wrong — and that’s why they are behaving differently. It’s a path that can lead to an abusive relationship.
Like love bombing but not as dangerous. The person may be toxic but really only loves the thrill of the chase and the act of coming on strong. The “moster” will likely end up ghosting you once he or she has expressed undying affection for you.
Devaluing and discarding
A process used by toxic and abusive people. It’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. The relationship is a roller-coaster of kindness followed by cruelty, abuse, and toxicity, followed by kindness again. During the course of the relationship, he or she breaks down the mate’s confidence, then discards the mate, leaving him/her depleted and confused, wondering where things went wrong. First he devalues, then he discards.
A process used by toxic and abusive people, gaslighting makes a victim question his/her own sanity and reality while the abuser slowly and methodically takes control. The term was coined by the 1944 film Gaslight, in which a controlling husband uses mind games to make his wife doubt her sanity. Once a victim realizes what’s happening, it’s often too late to get out of the relationship. The victim becomes so uncertain of what’s real and what’s manipulative that he or she can’t perceive reality and ends up totally dependent on the gaslighter.
When a toxic or abusive person wants to get back into your life by offering an empty apology. Could sound something like: “Give me another chance. I’m sorry about how I treated you. I can change. I made a mistake.”
A Wizard of Oz reference, a “flying monkey” is a person who is recruited by a toxic person to help debase his or her victim. In the movie, the flying monkeys did the dirty work for the Wicked Witch of the West.
It’s simply pretending to be involved with someone when you are not even dating. It’s a 21st-century concept because the pretending happens online, over social media.
Pretty much the opposite of fauxbae’ing, stashing is when you are dating someone but they keep you a secret from their friends or family, and don’t post about you at all on social media.
Cheating, but only a little bit.
Concern that your attraction to someone is simply because you like his beard.
Sidebarring, a.k.a. Pubbing
When you’re on a date but spend more time looking at your phone than engaging with your date.
If a person has connected their Tinder profile to Instagram, Tindstagramming is the concept of messaging someone they’ve met on Tinder on Instagram instead of waiting for a response on Tinder. This is considered a bad idea.