22 dating terms you need to know now

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22 dating terms you need to know now

Breadcrumbing? Ghosting? Zombieing? What is this? An episode of Scooby-Doo?

If you’ve been out of the dating game for a while or came of age when people still called to ask each other out, you may be perplexed by the current lexicon of love.  

Blame it on technology. The ability to find your soulmate and crush them just as fast with a few keystrokes on a smartphone has irrevocably altered the way we date, mate and communicate.  

Whether you’re looking for love online or off, here are the words you need to know now.


Forget very, really, totally, so or seriously. Today, the proper way to refer to anything dire (in a first-world problems kind of way) is AF, short for as f**k. Used in two sentences: “I forgot her birthday. I am dumped AF.” “I know bro. Soon you’ll be single AF like me.”


Short for before anyone else, bae is a term of affection for a significant other or a serious crush. If you grew up in the 90s, think of bae as the new boo. If you grew up in the 80s or earlier think of it as a shortened version of baby or babe.


If someone contacts you sporadically with flirty messages and leads you on, but rarely follows through with an offer of a real date, you are likely being benched: mentally put on a second or third string, and saved for a rainy day when the person benching you has no other options.  


In Hansel and Gretel the children leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help them find their way back home. In modern dating, breadcrumbing is what happens when someone uses social media likes, vague comments, emojis, and sporadic text messages to signal their interest in you in the laziest way possible.

Unlike tuning (see below), the person leaving the breadcrumbs has no intention of pursuing anything other than the most casual fling with you. Don’t let that trail mislead you. Unlike in the fairy tale, these breadcrumbs go nowhere.


A catfish is a person who creates a false dating profile using other people’s photos (often stolen from the intranet or taken from stock photo sites) for the purpose of reeling in affection, money or both.

Often catfish seem too good to be true because they are. The quickest way to catch a catfish? Do a reverse search on their photos. If more than one person comes up, toss that catfish back in the mud.

Catch and release

For some, it’s not so much the relationship that entices them as the thrill of the chase. Once they’ve achieved their goal, their interest wanes and they ditch the person they so earnestly pursued, only to immediately get back in the game and do it all over again with someone new.  

To avoid being caught in a catch and release, ask your potential bae how many serious LTRs (long-term relationships) they’ve had. Chronic catch and release players will likely be able to count them on their thumb, or not at all. 


Cuffing Season

In the northern hemisphere, winter can be cold, dark and lonely. What better time to have a regular partner to cuddle up with and stay warm? This, my friends, is cuffing season: the time of the year when people, who might otherwise opt to remain single, choose to be in relationships.

Those who partake in cuffing season, typically uncuff at the first sign of spring. 


DTR stands for define the relationship. It’s the “what are we?” talk that often makes or breaks the relationship.


Ready to do the horizontal mambo with your bae, your FWB (friend with benefits) or a random stranger? If you’ve let them know, they may very well describe you with this acronym for down to fuck.


If a couple isn’t a couple on social media, are they really a couple? FBO stands for Facebook official. It’s what happens when you change your status on social media from single to in a relationship. If you aren’t sure if you should become FBO you may need to DTR.


Contrary to what this sounds like, a fuckboy is not someone you would want to be DTF with. Instead, he’s a manipulator who leads women on to have sex, acts like a misogynist douchebag, and/or screws over his friends. In some circles, fuckboys may also be regarded as a wuss and a faker. In short, he’s the lowest of the low.



When someone ghosts you, they just disappear – poof, gone, vanished – with no explanation why. Ever date someone only to have them never contact you again? Welcome to the club! You’ve been ghosted.

Kray bae

A bae is a good thing. A kray bae not so much. Did that sweet thing you’ve been dating suddenly turn insane AF? Congrats! You have a kray bae. Ghost them immediately.


Ever get hit on by someone already in a relationship?Just like a carrier might put you on standby at the airport, he or she may have been putting you on layby, preparing you for the possibility of room on their “flight” even though it’s currently fully booked. When someone puts you on layby they are setting you up as their contingency plan for when they stop seeing the person they are currently with. 


Chicks before dicks and bros before hos: those are the mottos of the lemmings. For lemmings, relationships are merely a hedge to get them through those lonely times when their BFF (best friend forever) is preoccupied with a relationship. As soon as their bestie is single again, they ditch their own partners to spend more time with their one true priority.


Still getting texts and calls despite ghosting that person three weeks ago? Try mooning. Hit the “Do Not Disturb” button on your phone (represented by a crescent moon on the iPhone). It’s almost like they never existed. You won’t see their messages at all.  


Approve of two people pairing up? Then you ship them, as in, “Did you see Karen and Chris making out last night? I ship them.”


Slow fade

Where ghosting is an abrupt disconnect, a slow fade is a gradual cessation of communication without any explanation. For example, someone who once texted you daily, might text you weekly, and then every few weeks and then not at all.


Dating casually? Haven’t DTR yet? You’re talking. Talking is kind of like dating but with more ambiguity. You hang out, you hook up, you have fun, but you have no idea where this is going.

Thirst trap

The post reads “Check out this amazing photo of the beach at sunset.” But all you see is the person posting the photo’s hot bod in a skimpy bathing suit. That, my friends, is a thirst trap: a social media post designed to trigger the emotions (or loins) of the object of your affections.


A person who is tuning will like your social media posts, leave flirty comments and text you, but unlike breadcrumbing, the person doing it is typically a friend interested in becoming more. Essentially, they are slowly dropping hints that they like you more than a friend.

Zombieing (also known as haunting)

That person you went on two dates with seven months ago sends you a text? Your high school boyfriend mysteriously shows up at that party you posted on facebook? That dude who ghosted you suddenly starts liking your posts? Like a zombie, they’re back… from the dead.

What dating terms do you use that aren’t on the list? Leave your comments below.

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