Here It Is: Your Ultimate Dating Terms Glossary
Don’t know your ghosting from your zombieng? Allow us to help
If you’ve ever dipped your toe inside the modern dating pool, it’s likely you’ve been met with at least one of two terms you’re unfamiliar with. You explain your love woes to your friend and they quip back with ‘yeah, you’ve been benched, happens to us all!’. You’ll sit there nodding along, none the wiser, but don’t have it in you to tell them you haven’t a notion what they’re on about. While dating disasters are nothing new, the terminology we use to decipher said conundrums are.
Assigning a word to a certain situation is something that we humans just do, the Danish coined ‘Hygge’ – the feeling of cosiness, the Japanese gave us ‘Wabi-Sabi’, the act of finding beauty in imperfections, and pee’d off straight women gave us the word ‘Fuckboy’, all equally charming and important, if you ask me. So, to make sure you never mix up your kittenfishing from your dogfishing again, here is your STELLAR guide to dating terms you should know about.
Kicking things off with an easy one. Ghosting is when someone, often unexpectedly, stops making contact with you. This is done by ignoring messages, dodging phone calls, and doing everything they possibly can to slip under the radar without having to formally call things off. Many would say that ghosting someone is cowardly, and emotionally cruel, but that doesn’t seem to stop people, (can you tell I’ve been ghosted before and am absolutely still bitter about it?).
Ghosting adjacent, ‘zombieing’ is essentially a ghost from dating past coming back from the dead to insert themselves back into your life (and probably other places too) again. Whether it was someone you briefly dated or someone you were seriously involved with, you’ll break things off with the zombie, either mutually or on their terms, they’ll act like a stranger for a period of time, and then pop back into your life again, usually in the form of a ‘long time, no talk’ text.
This is usually where things start to get a little confusing. We’ve met the ghost and the zombie, now it’s time to come to terms with that grey area in between the two. Haunting is when you’re no longer romantically involved with someone, but they still linger around. They’ll like your pictures and always be one of the first to view your Instagram story, but they’ll never actually get in touch with you directly.
Gluten lovers, beware. Breadcrumbing is when someone, often a potential love interest, gives you shreds of attention from afar. Dropping ‘crumbs’ of admiration by retweeting the odd tweet from you and reacting to your Instagram story with a heart eyes emoji. The person doing the dropping is more than likely trying to hold your attention by giving you tiny nuggets of affection. But beware, breadcrumbers usually have no interest in actually meeting up in real life, and are probably just passing the time with the odd ego boost here and there.
This one’s important as we’re currently entering peak cuffing season. Cuffing Season can be defined as the time in autumn and winter when singletons are likely to seek out a romantic partner, rather than a string of casual dates and hook-ups. Basically, it’s that time of year when the weather gets cold and everyone wants to find someone they can snuggle up to, not to mention do festive things like visit a pumpkin patch and browse christmas markets with.
A classic case of ‘they’re just not that into you’. Benching is when someone keeps you as a substitute, on the bench, if you will, in case their plans fall through. They’ll give you scraps of attention with the odd flirty text every now and again, but when it comes to making actual plans they’re flaky af. You’re probably better off cutting losses with that bencher now because Lizzo has NEVER written a song about being someone’s plan b.
This refers to when someone is in a relationship, but doesn’t introduce their partner to their friends or family, or post about them on social media. It may be chill at first, but with constant stashing there’s only one way that relationship is going, and that’s down. It’s the human equivalent of shoving the mess on your bedroom floor under your bed before guests arrive.
A brand new contender, courtesy of Tik Tok. A foster girlfriend is defined by Urban Dictionary as “a girl who dates men until they find their ‘forever girlfriend.’” Much like a lost puppy needs to be taken in and trained up before it’s set free again, a foster girlfriend will put in all the work with a man only to reap absolutely no rewards. Think of Big marrying Natasha right after he told Carrie he just couldn’t commit. When they say they’re ‘not looking for anything’ they usually mean they’re just not looking for anything with you, so take your charity work elsewhere, gal.
Not to be confused with DTF (Down To Fuck) of Jersey Shore fame. DTR stands for ‘Defining The Relationship’ and we’ve aaalll been there at one point. Most relationships start off fun and casual, and eventually with constant communication some feelings start to creep in. Usually around the 3-4 month mark people will decide it’s time for that chat and you’ll both need to determine what this thing you’re both doing is and where exactly you’re heading together.
The opposite of ghosting. A slow fade is when someone gradually cuts you off. Rather than disappearing into the abyss, never to be seen or heard of again. A slow fade is when you slowly start to interact with the person you were dating less and less. You’ll start liking their messages instead of actually responding to them, you’ll use a catalog of excuses to avoid going on dates, all in the hopes that the other person will get the message and go away. Although not as brutal as ghosting, it’s still pretty savage, surely just letting someone know you’re not feeling them anymore is easier, no?
We’re all well acquainted with Catfishing by now thanks to a certain MTV show, but less of us know of the dating epidemic sweeping our nation – Kittenfishing. While a catfish changes their entire identity to attract a suitable partner, a kittenfish will change just small things about themselves. Emphasising the traits they like and minimising the ones they don’t, a kittenfish might say they’re a huge fitness enthusiast when actually they haven’t run since doing a beep test in secondary school, or maybe they’ll use a picture that was taken a solid 4 years ago, but sure despite the fact that they’re now bald, they’ve barely changed.
Remember when you were warned as a child to never go off with someone just because they say they have sweets? Well, I’m warning you now as an adult, never agree to a date with someone just because they have a dog in their profile picture. Bitches love dogs, ergo some people use dogs as bait in their profile pictures to reel in said bitches. Oftentimes that dog doesn’t even belong to the person pictured with them, so it’s always best practise to ask for at least 30 more pictures of the dog in question to prove they own it before agreeing to any kind of formal meeting, just to protect your heart.
Netflix and Chill
Sex. Netflix and Chill is code for sex. Many a child has been conceived under the guise of this watching and relaxing, so much so that in 2015 it officially achieved ‘catchphrase’ status. If you’re ‘Netflix and Chilling’ you’re more than likely engaging in sexual activity, all while the streaming service plays out in the background. However, it should be noted that if you’re married, it takes on a much more literal meaning, of watching that new serial killer documentary in your curry-stained PJs while you make short work of a bottle of wine – not an ounce of jiggy to be had, but still equally as fun.
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