The Modern Dating Dictionary

Like modern dating itself, dating terminology is constantly evolving. One afternoon not too long ago, I sat with my group of friends and discussed boys, as we always do. They were quick to brutally tell me that I was using all of the words incorrectly, like some sort of weird aunt trying to be cool and “relate with the kids.” So, I decided to dive in and figure out what this dating slang really means today.

1. Breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing is defined in the ye ole’ Urban Dictionary as “the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (ie “breadcrumbs”) in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.” It seems like breadcrumbers know when someone is moving on and/or forgets about them, which is when they send another message. They might hint at meeting up or even imply their interest in you, but never seem to follow through with it.

2. Ghosting

Ghosting is when someone disappears off the face of the earth, whether they un-add you on snap, don’t answer your texts or unfollow you on  social media. This is how someone may express they are disinterested and while it sucks, it isn’t uncommon at all.

3. Cuffing season

Cuffing season refers to the idea that people who may usually be comfortable being single find themselves in a relationship during the colder months of the year... I blame cuddling for this one!

4. Benching

Benching is when someone does not give you their full time, effort, or attention. They may avoid hanging out with you, but continue to snap you every couple days, just so you don’t forget that they’re there. They’re playing out their other options while you’re left on the bench, waiting for your time to get to date them, or even just hangout with them.

5. Haunting

Haunting is when someone that has ghosted you suddenly reappears. Whether they like a picture from 2014 on your Instagram or snap you at  2 AM, they just feel the need to randomly remind you that they exist.

6. Cushioning

Cushioning is just a little worse than benching. Cushioning is when someone stays in contact with you, just to keep you as their backup. They are most likely seeing someone else, but keep the cushion, you, around just in case things don’t work out well with the main person that they are seeing. The purpose of this is to lessen the pain of their breakup or to transition easier into another relationship, since they already have someone waiting for them. It is important to note that this is mostly just a texting or social media thing, not actually full blown cheating.

7. Talking

To me, this is the most loaded, ambiguous word in modern dating. Most people seem to think “talking” is when you can see yourself entering a relationship with this person, but are not quite sure yet. You could be hooking up with each other, texting all the time, hanging out pretty often. It’s new and it’s exciting... but it could fall apart at any moment. Each person is probably not talking to anyone else, but you don’t dare ask them and they technically wouldn’t be breaking any rules if they were, it might just kind of suck.

8. Exclusive

Exclusive means that both people have agreed to only see each other romantically. So, no more hooking up with or talking to other people, all time and effort into just the one person, kind of like a trial run for a relationship. You get to know someone and see how it would be to date them, without all the pressures and obligations of an official relationship.

9. DTR

DTR simply stands for “define the relationship” and refers to the dreaded conversation where two people discuss where they stand: if they’re just seeing each other casually, are entering a romantic relationship, or somewhere in between. It seems as if no one knows the proper time or method to bring up this conversation, but it is an important one to have.

10. Caspering

Caspering is the friendly version of ghosting (haha get it? Casper the friendly ghost). It is when one person tells the other person that they’re done with the relationship nicely, instead of just ignoring them. Caspering has also been defined as someone responding to your texts nicely but not hanging out with you again. Yeah, it still sucks, but it is better than just being ignored without any warning or explanation.  

Although dating terminology is constantly changing (and I’m sure that I will soon be out of the loop once again when it comes to the words that “the kids” are using) it really all just comes down to people trying to find other people they like and want to hangout with… and that’s the only part that really matters. 

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