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Modern dating terms you need to know

A dating dictionary for modern times

· Dating Advice

By Anton Lee - date advisor

Many say technology is to blame for destroying the English language. It's easy to point the finger at SMS as the harbinger of an inarticulate doom. Whereas once we may have asked a 'fair maiden if they would care to share an exquisite meal together', now we might simply send an SMS saying 'Dinner@9 this w/e? LOL'.

Language has always changed and evolved, even before SMS character limitations challenged Nokia phone users to communicate in under 25 characters of less. Technology has merely acted as a conduit, helping newly coined phrases spread through communities at a much faster pace.

When it comes to love, communication is everything and with new phrases popping up seemingly every 5 minutes, it can be difficult to navigate the changing language landscape. To help, we've compiled a list of 'must know' terms - a dating dictionary for the dating app era.


Most of you may know the term 'cafishing', which means luring someone into a relationship online while lying about who you really are. The term kittenfishing is the less severe version of this. An example would be using a heavily edited picture of yourself in your profile, or simply lying about your age and hobbies.

Here's a pro tip - don't do it. While kittens are cute, kittenfishing is definitely not. 

Ghosting (or Caspering... or getting Swayzed)

Seen as one of the new seven deadly sins of the online dating world, ghosting refers to the act of cutting off all communication with someone without explanation. Ghosting can happen at any time - you could have had a few great dates with someone with everything seemingly heading in the right direction when suddenly... they disappear without a trace.

Some say that this is a symptom of people who hate confrontation being unable to end relationships like normal human beings. Others say there is a Freddy Kreuger like demon that stalks chat messengers and steals the souls of potential relationships. I lean more towards the latter myself.

Zombie-ing (or Haunting)

This is the messed up cousin of 'ghosting', where said ghost comes back from the dead after a long absence, with a seemingly innocuous 'hey' popping up in your notification feed. Zombie-ing turns into 'haunting' when said ghost comes back to haunt your social media feed, liking selfies on Instagram you posted back in 2016.

Like with all Zombies, if you get to close to one you'll be infected with a deadly disease and your love life will die a cruel and horrible death. Keep away.


Something you may have seen on hook-up apps like Tinder, DTF stands for 'drop the fork' and is used by food lovers to help identify other foodies. 

OK, just jokes, it actually means 'Down To F*ck' and is a classless way of trying to initiate casual sex. But next time someone sends you this message and you're not keen, text back saying 'I definitely Drop The Fork. You're a foodie too?' Then start suggesting Michelin star restaurants and see where that leads.


A much nicer acronym than DTF, DTR stands for 'define the relationship'. If you've ever been caught up in a relationship that sits in the middle of casual and serious, you may understand the need for sending this message.


Referencing the basketball term where players are left to sit and watch on the bench while others play, 'benching' refers to someone becoming another persons back-up option while they play the field. If you find yourself in a chat with someone but they constantly avoiding meeting you, you're probably getting benched.


Stashing is the next step up from benching. It's where you're dating someone but they've kept you away from their friends, family and social media, basically making it seem like they are still single to the rest of the outside world. Stashing is a sly way of staying on the market while simultaneously dating someone.


Basically low-key flirting, tuning is when someone shows a lot of interest in another person without outright asking for a date. Unlike benching, this is usually done by people that are either too shy to approach directly or too strategic for their own good.

If you're getting tuned and it's taking way too long for them to be upfront with you, we suggest you 'tune out'. Time is money kids.


Not the name a new discount factory outlet, DFMO stands for 'Dance Floor Make-Out'. If you've ever hung around a nightclub or a party way too long you've either seen or been involved in one of these. While these makeout sessions aren't always regretted, they are almost always sloppy and involve a little too much alcohol from both people involved.  


How do you know when you're getting breadcrumbs? It's when you receive a little message here, a short text there - just enough contact to keep you interested and keep them in the game.

If you do find yourself feeding on breadcrumbs, we suggest changing restaurants and updating to a happy meal. If someone doesn't put in the effort with you, why wait around?


Have you ever been in a situation where you send a love interest a message, and then later see that they've read that message, but lo and behold, haven't replied back? If this sounds familiar to you then you've just been R-bombed. Boom!

This simple little bit of inaction, whether intentional or not, can cause quite a lot of anguish for those getting 'the bomb'. It can leave people sitting there wondering why the other person didn't say anything. Have I done something to insult them? Could they have somehow lost all muscle control in their hands, rendering them unable to type? Does anyone out there actually love me???


Imagine you're stuck in a desert without water for 3 days, with the burning sun beating down on you as you rapidly begin to dehydrate. That feeling you have, where the only thing that can satisfy you is a nice cool glass of refreshing water - that's what thirst is, if you replace the desert with your love life and water for sex. Mmm, anyone up for a cool refreshing glass of sex? (OK, so maybe that analogy doesn't really work...)

Thirst Trap

Thirst traps are created by thirsty people, obviously. You've probably seen them before on Facebook or Instagram. You know those sexy selfies that catch you when you're scrolling through your feed, the ones that people take in their bathrooms while in a revealing outfit that they 'just happen to be wearing' even through they're not actually going out anywhere. The pictures where their eyes don't just scream 'look at me' but 'look at me, please!'

Spiders use webs to catch their prey, the thirsty use selfies.

Non-Date Date

A non-date date has all the hallmarks of an actual date. The flirty staring into each others eyes, the heart flutters you feel when stand too close to each other, invading each others private spaces just enough so intimacy is felt. Yes, it's almost like a real date, except afterwards, either you or the other party involved go into full denial, as if a black-ops mission to assassinate a foreign dignitary has failed and you both do not want to be held responsible.

Was it a date? Was I really there? Is this all a conspiracy involving the Illuminati? Am I the only one confused as to where I stand?


This is basically the new way to say 'I am seeing someone', as in 'me and Becky, we're 'on-a-thing''. Its the millennial version of casual dating.

The DM Slide

To slide into someone's DMs means to directly message someone on either Instagram or Twitter that you've been crushing on from afar. It's often used by people as either a last ditch attempt to get someones attention, or an all-or-nothing approach to try to date someone above their 'pay-grade' (for example, trying to slide into the DMs of Gigi Hadid. Your chances are one-in-a-billion, but still better than 0).


This is a direct reference to the character Jay Gatsby from the famous novel 'The Great Gatsby', the story of a recluse millionaire who would throw lavish parties at his luxurious mansion all to try to gain the attention of a girl he loved. The modern usage of this term is actually not too far off from this, as it refers to someone constantly posting images on social media showing off how glamorous their life is. This is less about 'thirst trapping' and more about trying to get attention from other people, or a particular someone, for an ego boost.

Catch & Release

Originally a fishing term, the 'catch & release' refers to meeting someone for a quick tryst and then cutting them loose, letting them back into the wild while severing all emotional and physical ties in the process. This is simply the new 'casual hook-up' for the dating-app era.


If you are being 'firedoored' it means you are caught up in an unpleasant one-way relationship. Perpetrators are often selfish people that only contact someone when they need emotional comfort, but otherwise keep their door closed when others come to them. A firedoor only opens one way. We suggest that if you stumble across one, keep it closed and search for another exit.

Relationship Without Benefits

This is like a bizarro world version of the term 'friends with benefits'. If you have a relationship without benefits, you're in an actual relationship without any of the physical benefits or intimacy. Think Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

Netflix and Chill

While not necessarily all that new a phrase, we've just added this in here to let you know that you don't actually have to have Netflix to 'Netflix and chill'. You won't be watching anything anyway. There you go - I just saved you $12.95 a month.


As winter starts to draw near a lot of singles start dreading the loneliness that comes with it. Cuffing (or cuffing season) refers to finding someone to spend time with to help keep you warm during the colder months. It's finding yourself a Netflix and Chill partner so you don't end up all frozen in ice like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining.


This is a relationship that refuses to define itself as one. Is it just a casual thing? Is it more serious? Are we only friends with benefits? This is the IRL version of 'it's complicated'.

Leads & Accounts

A sales and marketing term that has somehow made its way into the dating lexicon, leads & accounts refer to the opportunities you have potential dates. A lead would be someone you may be interested in, and an account is someone that you've started a conversation with.


We end on another of the new seven deadly sins of modern dating. Phubbing refers to someone completely ignoring their date by checking their phone. Inconsiderate is the nicest way to describe this - bloody rude would probably be better. If you're ever tempted to scroll through your Instagram feed while someone is talking to you on a date, please politely excuse yourself and go to the bathroom, lock the door behind you, look into the mirror and then slap yourself in the god-damn face. Don't do it. It's just plain rude.

We hope that next time you're flummoxed by weird dating lingo, we hope this list will help! 

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