What To Know About Modern Dating Slang

From formal courtship to present-day swipe-right hookup culture, we've seen a lot of evolution over the last 100 years of dating. The dynamics of meeting someone new is also shifting towards the online space. In a 2023 survey by the Pew Research Center, three in 10 U.S. adults admit to having used a dating app in the past. Online dating is most common among adults younger than 30, with 53% of those questioned acknowledging their use of dating apps. But these aren't the only shifts dating has seen.


Modern dating is also littered with jargon and popular trends — many of which are just disturbing. Navigating this maze can be challenging if you don't know the slang. These buzzwords are not all bad, though, since they give names to dating experiences that would be hard to describe otherwise. And giving them names make such experiences concrete. It's also nice to know that if you get roached, breadcrumbed, stashed, or benched, you're not the only one. If you're looking to conquer modern dating, there is definitely some slang you need in your arsenal.

A hard launch versus a soft launch

Just like marketing gurus launch new products, there are methods couples use to "launch" new relationships on social media, or go public with the fact that they're dating. Some folks prefer a subtle approach. Others go all out and "hard launch" their relationship by posting their partner's picture and other details about their new relationship.


With a subtle approach, however, or a "soft launch," the identity of your partner is left out of a post but you strongly suggest that you're in a couple. To soft launch your relationship, you can post a picture of you and your partner holding hands, hugging, or kissing. Just make sure your partner's face isn't featured. Soft launch posts are usually cute and mysterious. This is probably why fake soft launches are a thing. People do this for the likes, to make someone jealous, or just for kicks. So don't be deceived. If you're going to hard or soft launch your partner for real, it's important to get their consent.

Ghosting and its spooky cousins

Ghosting is one of the most talked-about bad dating practices. It involves cutting off communication with someone without a heads up, or suddenly disappearing like a ghost. Ghosting is executed in many ways, like ignoring messages or calls, unmatching on a dating app, blocking a person on social media, or even ignoring a person in real life. A close variant that's slightly different from ghosting is dial-toning. Here, someone gives you their number but never picks up when you call, and all you ever get is their dial tone.


Ghosting also has many relatives that make things more confusing, messy, and cruel. For example, if a person showers you with love before performing a 180 to ghost you, that's mosting, which may actually be worse than ghosting. Meanwhile, some folks rise from the dead after ghosting you and try to slink back into your life. If they offer a (poor) explanation for the radio silence, that's zombieing. If they act like the disappearance never happened, that's the frustrating dating trend known as submarining. At the other end of the spectrum is caspering, where a person acts like Casper the friendly ghost. While trying not to ghost you, that person prolongs ending a relationship. But their attempt at being nice only makes things worse.


Slow fade

A slow fade is another toxic way to end a relationship. It isn't abrupt like ghosting but it's equally problematic. Basically, a slow fade happens when one or both partners gradually pull away from a relationship when they're no longer interested. This could mean replying to texts late, ignoring calls, or making fewer and fewer date plans. You're still kind of in a relationship while all this happens. But most times, things will dwindle till the relationship ends.


There are different reasons why someone would pull a slow fade. It could be a way to avoid confrontation for those who struggle with self-expression. "They may fear hurting their partner's feelings or fear their own vulnerability in expressing their true emotions," psychotherapist and relationship expert Tesa Saulmon tells Ask Men. "By slowly fading away, they hope to minimize the potential pain and conflict that may arise from a sudden breakup." If you notice that your relationship is slow fading, you should discuss your concerns with your partner without outright accusing them of slow fading. If they refuse to communicate, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.


It's awesome how the moon orbits the earth but stays out of reach. However, it can be weird to have your ex, someone that ghosted you, or some random dude from Tinder lurking around your social media — viewing and liking your posts and essentially keeping you in their orbit. In the context of a relationship, orbiting means a former flame is keeping up with you without actually allowing themselves close enough to you in order to rekindle things. Getting orbited by someone who ghosted you is also called haunting — because you're haunted by that ghost. This trend can be particularly unsettling because an ex is getting updates about your life while staying out of reach.


Orbiting goes against the no-contact rule of breakups, and it isn't healthy. "Our brains often look for a dopamine 'hit' by searching for any news, pictures, or information about a recent ex," licensed family and marriage therapist Heather Hagen, told Women's Health. Hagen added that we need to learn to kill this urge so things can get better post-breakup. Hence, orbiting or haunting an ex, especially after a fresh breakup, only makes the process harder.

Cuffing and uncuffing seasons

Just like beavers gather food before winter, singles seek new relationships to survive winter, too. This all happens from late fall through winter and it's known as cuffing season. It makes sense — who doesn't want a snuggle buddy? Speaking to Today, licensed marriage and family therapist Saba Harouni Lurie explains, "We're less prone to go outside or engage in activities that would typically produce feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin during the colder months." Physical touch from a partner gives us our much-needed hit of these hormones, notes Lurie.


Cuffing season is derived from the word cuff, because getting in a relationship is like being handcuffed to someone. But what if you want to break those shackles? Cue the uncuffing season. It's a period of breakups that falls around spring and summer. The trend is that couples that got cuffed during winter uncuff to explore new relationships during the warmer seasons.


No doubt, being physically attractive makes it easier to get dates. But you can't deny that traits like being funny, smart, or kind also count. Enter: rizz. This is shortened from the word charisma. Rizz refers to being charming, confident, and sleek with words. Rizz can be a noun or verb. If you've got rizz, you're good at flirting and getting dates. Also, you can rizz someone up by laying the charm on them.


Rizz was first made popular online by Kai Cenat when he frequently used the word during his Twitch live streams. Now, the term's so popular that it's Oxford's 2023 word of the year. Per Oxford Languages, "Use of the word as recorded in our corpus has increased dramatically in 2023, with a peak in June 2023, when actor Tom Holland was asked in a widely reported interview about his 'rizz', to which he answered, 'I have no rizz whatsoever, I have limited rizz.'"

Love bomb

A love bomb is an intense display of affection done to manipulate a partner and gain control of a relationship. Being love-bombed means getting gifts, compliments, and attention. But for the thrill, your partner expects constant gratitude, attention, and loyalty. They also want to create a false sense of intimacy by being clingy, oversharing, making you overshare, ignoring boundaries, making you commit, isolating you, and getting jealous easily (via Choosing Therapy).


Love bombing often happens in stages, notes couples therapist Samantha Burns to Prevention. First, you have the intense show of love which then gives way to more manipulative actions which can include gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse. "You can go from intense highs to low lows by being belittled, and controlled," Burns says. The relationship will most likely end in a breakup at some point. If you're being love-bombed, Burns advises you to communicate with your partner and get some space from them.


Eclipsing doesn't have those mushy sentiments lovers associate with the sun and moon. Rather, you eclipse your partner by pretending to have common interests with them to make a relationship stick. Eclipsing is common in the early stages of relationships. You may claim to like your partner's type of music or go as far as adopting their hobbies.


It's all harmless till you're hiking every Saturday because of a little lie you told on your first date. Another issue is that eclipsing could be a form of micromanipulation, notes dating expert Sarah Louise Ryan to Metro. As for why people eclipse, Ryan explains: "This could be for many reasons such as a lack of confidence, lack of self-awareness, wanting to feel like they 'belong' or to draw the other person closer to them in a manufactured way." If you're guilty of eclipsing, Ryan advises you to come clean to your partner.

Red flags, green flags, and beige flags

Red flags are traits you notice in someone that set off your alarm bells. It's important for any active dater to know what they consider red flags as those flaws could be deal breakers or something to work on. However, red flags like abusive and controlling behaviors should never be ignored, Callisto Adams, dating and relationship expert and coach told Women's Health.


Green flags are those positive personality traits that help relationships sail smoothly. It's important to spot them in your partner and look for them in potential love interests. There's no consensus on what a beige flag is. For some, beige flags are traits they don't hate but don't find attractive. Others consider beige flags as boring personality traits. Relationship flags — whether red, green, or beige — are all subjective. What one person considers a red or green flag, another person might not even notice.

Situationships and delusionships

Have you ever bonded with someone but your relationship exists in a weird gray area? You've had endless talks, gone on dates, or slept with them but you guys aren't committed. Well, that's a situationship. Situationships can be beneficial if you're both trying to figure things out or if you both want a casual relationship. But situationships become problematic if you want something more or if there's lying, cheating, or manipulation involved.


A delusionship is a ship that sails only in your head. It could be a one-sided crush or fantasy but you've imagined picture-perfect dates, vacations, and growing old with the person. Delusionships are pretty harmless. But as T. Joel Wade, professor of psychology at Bucknell University, tells USA Today, "If the delusionship is too idealized it can create problems in that it becomes hard, or virtually impossible, for the person of interest to 'live up' to the idealized image."

Roster dating and cushioning

Roster dating is a technique where you casually date multiple people to explore your options and learn more about yourself before committing to one person. Speaking with Business Insider, Match Group dating expert and communication coach Rachel DeAlto recommends having a dating roster, saying, "... I think it's a much better idea to see multiple people, and not focus on one person, when you have no idea what the outcome is going to be." However, if you roster date, it's important to let others know you're not looking to commit and avoid spreading yourself thin by having too many people on your roster.


Ideally, you don't need your roster if you choose to commit to one person. But some folks still keep a roster of potential partners while being in a committed relationship. This is what's called cushioning. Should the relationship fail, they have a ready standby. However, this practice is deceptive to the cushions and actual partners.

A sneaky link

There is nothing new about sneakiness within the jungle of dating. But what exactly is a sneaky link? Its meaning depends on context, but it has to do with a secret sexual encounter. For instance, a sneaky link could mean meeting or "linking" up with someone in secret to make out or have sex. A sneaky link could also mean a text sent to someone arranging for this kind of secret rendezvous.


Ultimately, secrecy is key to a sneaky link. This particular relationship could be a friends-with-benefits type of situation, a casual hook-up, or even an affair. Being or having a sneaky link could be beneficial if you both want to keep things private or if you're not seeking anything serious. But it's a problem if someone wants more or if there's any form of deception. If this is the case, you need to set some boundaries.

Stashing or pocketing

Stashing and pocketing are both phrases that refer to the same shady trend in relationships: Your partner "stashes" or "pockets" you when they keep your relationship secret from everyone or select people in their lives. You may notice that you've never met your partner's friends, colleagues, or family members. And if you randomly meet anyone, you're never introduced as a girlfriend or boyfriend.


Marriage and couples therapist Irina Firstein tells PureWow that a person might stash their partner if they have something to hide — like another relationship. It could also be that they have problems with their family or see your relationship as casual. If you feel like you've been stashed it may help to address it with your partner, advises Firstein. They may offer an explanation and solution to the problem. Or, they might just give lame excuses, or become defensive or manipulative. These are red flags that point to a larger issue.


Cockroaches are nasty in the home and even worse in relationships. There's that yucky feeling you get when you find one cockroach in your home and know full well there are more of those little creatures roaming about. That feeling is similar to what you experience when you discover that someone you've been seeing for a while is also flirting, chasing, or hooking up with other people, according to Ask Men – the outlet that coined the dating phenomenon.


Roaching commonly happens when a relationship is undefined, so a person roaching you might avoid any DTR (define the relationship) conversation. They could also be stashing you or turning you into their sneaky link. Roaching is something to look out for in new relationships. "In the beginning of a relationship, daters always run the risk of being roached," says Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking to InStyle. "There is this gray period where it's too new to be exclusive and your new love interest may be seeing others. It's almost to be expected," she adds. It's important to discuss sexual health in any new relationship and this can be a great time to ask if your partner is sleeping with other people, advises Trombetti.



In some ways, dating is a sport. Why else is benching a thing? Picture this: Like the start of any regular relationship, you meet, talk, and even go on a few dates with a new interest. In the perfect script, this would end in a romantic relationship. But in this sport, your love interest might be storing you in a mental "maybe" file or "just in case" folder. Things don't move forward but they don't exactly end either. While exploring their other options, your bencher keeps you warm with little gestures — a few texts here and there and plans that never go through. After all, benched athletes still have to do drills. 


Online dating is a big contributor to benching note dating experts Selina and Vicki of Project Love to Metro. "We have more dating choice than ever before, but it's actually more of a hindrance than a help as too much choice overwhelms us and makes it harder to make a decision," they explain. In this era of dating, the one doing the benching might never find their star player.


You can't use breadcrumbs to find your way home like Hansel and Gretel — not in this dating landscape. Rather, if you're breadcrumbed, you'll find yourself on someone's hook. "[Breadcrumbing] is leading someone on romantically using online or electronic forums (think: social media or texting) to keep someone's interest in you, even if you never intend to become romantically involved with them," states Kelly Campbell, professor of psychology at California State University, to Brides.


The breadcrumbs here are those flirty texts, late-night calls, and plans that just never seem to work out. Why would someone partake in breadcrumbing? Maybe it's because they're hungry for a confidence boost, or they're a fan of playing games. It could also be that they're in a relationship and need a cushion, notes Campbell. Whatever their reason for breadcrumbing, as soon as you notice that this happening, Campbell advises that you get some space from the person and spend some time doing activities that boost your own self-esteem and confidence.


Just like a vulture lies in wait for their victim's demise, some people wait patiently for others to break up so they can swoop in during their mourning period. This toxic dating trend has been rightly termed vulturing. These dating vultures are individuals who intentionally take advantage of you when you're fragile, heartbroken, and vulnerable so as to manipulate you.


It's not unusual to meet someone new when you're going through a breakup, and sometimes you may find yourself falling for a friend who helped you get over an ex. But a vulture resorts to manipulative and exploitative tactics like love bombing to win your affection or to create the right scenario for an intimate encounter. Being vultured might feel nice as the person may slide easily into the hole your partner left in your life, but it also prevents you from getting over a relationship properly, and it could make you question the genuineness of future relationships.

Catfishing, kittenfishing, and wokefishing

Finding authentic dates online can be challenging because anyone can design a fictional personality on the internet. That's why catfishing is a persistent issue. It involves a person painstakingly creating and maintaining a fake online profile on dating apps or social media to attract dates or extort money from people.


Kittenfishing is the baby brother of catfishing. A person doesn't go as far as falsifying their identity but sprinkles a few lies to attract you. This could be anything from lying about their age to using a photo from when they were younger or more attractive as their profile picture. It's not hard to imagine what wokefishing is: Someone pretends to be overly progressive or "woke" to win your affection. They may claim to support or exaggerate their support of certain causes to seem more progressive than they actually are. In reality, they may not really even care about those issues or worse, they could have an opposing stance.