23 Modern Dating Phrases You Need To Add To Your Vocabulary

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Dating terminology has gotten a lot broader - and a lot weirder - since the advent of smartphones, social media and online dating. It seems like every other day there's another pithy metaphor, slang word or acronym to jot down or brush up on.

Whether you're trying to keep up in the Gen Y dating scene or just want to decipher your teenage kid's wholly alien vocabulary, this glossary of love lingo is here to help.

The following terms and definitions come courtesy of Claire Certain, global head of trends at dating app happn. As a social media professional, it's her job to keep tabs on the bewildering array of slanguage that spreads across the dating world like a particularly virulent STI.

In short, it's your definitive guide to neo dating terminology. So, let's get stuck in, eh?


"This is perhaps the most recognisable word that has arisen from online dating – although the act itself existed long before the dawn of dating apps.

"The phenomenon of ghosting occurs when someone you are dating suddenly goes silent on you, with no indication that they are no longer interested. One moment you are flirting back and forth after a handful of dates, the next you are checking your phone incessantly, bewildered at why this person you had a connection with has so abruptly dropped off the face of the earth.

"Ghosting can happen at any point in a relationship, and even between friends. Usually ghosts are simply too afraid of confrontation to tell you they aren’t interested in taking things further."


"Some people manage to have an entire relationship without ever meeting, only exchanging messages. Most dating apps of course encourage their users to meet in real life as soon as they feel comfortable, to avoid a lingering textlationship."

Slow Fade

"The slow fade is similar to ghosting, except more drawn-out. This is where someone you are chatting to or seeing gradually cuts you off, making less and less effort with being in touch."

Cuffing Season

"This term refers to the winter months where people who would usually be happily single or casually dating supposedly adopt a preference for being in a committed relationship."


"This is an acronym for ‘define the relationship’ – a new phrase which is the equivalent of having ‘the chat’ about where your relationship is heading."


"This is an acronym for ‘down to fuck.’ It's a part question, part statement relating to casual sex."


"Also known as bread-crumbing, benching is when someone you have been seeing stops agreeing to meet, but continues to contact you over message and social media. These people are essentially keeping you on the bench while they play out their other options. Beware a flame who keeps you in limbo this way!"


"This is where a romantic interest who previously ghosted you has now reappeared, but without direct contact. Instead, they’ll like or follow your social media posts, haunting you in cyberspace to remind you they still exist."


"Tuning can be mistaken for benching, but is far more positive for the tunee.

"Tuners are people who are actually romantically interested in you, but who are avoiding being upfront about it. These people want the relationship to progress, so are flirting via all kinds of means, but are vague and often frustrating.

"We all hope a bencher is really just a tuner, but be sure to tell the difference between under-confidence and indifference."


"When someone tells their friends they are “talking” to a girl or guy, it usually means they are dating them, but casually."


"To some, the pinnacle of online dating: FBO stands for Facebook Official. This of course involves changing your Facebook relationship status to mirror your newly confirmed relationship."

Netflix & Chill

"If a partner asks you to ‘come over for Netflix & chill’ you can guarantee that the TV won’t be on for long!"


"If someone is ‘thirsty’ they are very needy for attention, to the point of desperation."

Thirst Trap

"A ‘thirsty’ person might lay a Thirst Trap, in which they share a photo of their best physical feature to seduce their Crush."

Deep Like

"Most people fear being a deep-liker, but for some people out there, deep-liking is a proven method for showing your crush you like them. Just scroll back in time on their feed and like something on the past, to subtly indicate you’re interested."


"When someone softens the blow of rejection, by keeping a second option at hand."

A Thing

"A particularly ‘Aussie’ term, two people are ‘a thing’ in the period before they are officially dating."


"To get back with your ex after instigating a breakup."


"‘In Real Life’ is when you take the relationship from online/app to the real world, which us folks at Happn endorse 100%!"


"When you’ve introduced your date or partner to everyone in your life (ie, your parents, friends, neighbours, cat), but you haven’t met a single person in theirs, you’re being stashed. We find this is often when one person in the relationship isn’t ready to fully commit."

Meme Mistress

"This is a particularly ‘2017’ way of online flirting, when all someone does is continuously tag you in/send you relevant memes."

Tour Guide Seeker

"When someone lands in a new country and uses a dating app to find a local to show them around a city’s hotspots whilst dating at the same time."


"When a name you don’t remember matching-with, pops up on your screen in response to a message you sent six months ago, as if no time had passed at all. Our guess, is that they started dating someone and it didn’t work out, so they’ve boomeranged right back to where they left off!"


"When you don’t respond to their message within 24 hours, so they block you, as they’d rather bury their head in the sand than deal with rejection."

Know any choice dating patter that didn't make Certain's list? Tell us about them in the comments!


    I know every generation has their lingo but a lot of this stuff seems particularly stupid and self-centred.

    If you are dating someone who uses any of these 23 phrases break up with them.

    I dunno ghosting and DTF have been around for a long time. well before the others. remember msn/aol messenger a/s/l ,etc

    I'm certainly glad that my dating involved mature people, and not this self-centred generation.

      "Humph, back in MY day people didn't smile. Its disappointing to see mature adults these days acting like its ok to have fun and be a little lighthearted. SAD."

    A Thing has been said in the US for years. It was said when my parents were dating in the late 70’s and when my grandparents were in the 40’s and 50’s

      You aren't wring "a thing' has been around for decades.

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