Mod­ern dat­ing is learn­ing to speak a new slang-uage

Ro­mance mov­ing on­line has spawned a new lex­i­con to de­scribe a re­la­tion­ship’s sta­tus, ebbs and flows


If a cool end-of-sum­mer breeze has you mak­ing ar­range­ments for a win­ter re­la­tion­ship, you’re fall­ing prey to cuff­ing sea­son — and mod­ern dat­ing slang.

Though 26-year-old Jasmin Shim, who lives in Queen West, de­clares, “I feel like every sea­son is cuff­ing sea­son,” she’s no stranger to the term, nor to the lingo that’s cropped up to de­scribe a dat­ing land­scape that’s in­creas­ingly spent on­line.

“I hon­estly use these terms at least once a day,” said Shim, who has been on dat­ing apps Tin­der and Bum­ble in the past, but deleted them and vows to only date peo­ple she meets IRL (in real life).

While it may seem like these terms are all de­scrib­ing new things — and many of them are — creat­ing lex­i­con for dat­ing is some­thing each gen­er­a­tion does, de­pend­ing on the cul­tural prac­tices at the time.

“Dat­ing prac­tices are un­der­go­ing a cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion in terms of how it hap­pens, so of course you need new words to talk about it, just like when com­put­ers were in­vented we needed the word ‘mouse,’ ” said Sali Taglia­monte, a lin­guist at the University of Toronto who spe­cial­izes in lan­guage vari­a­tion and change.

“It’s a nor­mal word for us nowa­days, but 50 years ago a mouse was ( just) an an­i­mal.”

The cat­a­lyst for dat­ing terms is the cul­tural mi­lieu, which for many of to­day’s terms re­volves around so­cial me­dia, Taglia­monte said.

“It used to be that you would ‘pin’ a girl and that would mean you’re go­ing steady,” she said, a prac­tice where a man would give his girl­friend one of his pins, for ex­am­ple a fra­ter­nity pin, which she would wear as a sign they were to­gether.

“Nowa­days, you only know if some­one’s go­ing steady if there’s a Face­book up­date that says so,” Taglia­monte said, re­fer­ring to how users of the so­cial me­dia plat­form can set a sta­tus to say they’re “in a re­la­tion­ship.”

For Shim, new terms, such as “cat­fish­ing” — creat­ing a fake so­cial me­dia per­sona to trick some­one into hav­ing an on­line re­la­tion­ship with them — de­scribe sit­u­a­tions that have only re­ally been pos­si­ble since so­cial me­dia be­came com­mon­place.

“I’ve def­i­nitely mildly ghosted peo­ple,” she said, a prac­tice of cut­ting off all con­tact with some­one with­out any ex­pla­na­tion.

As for whether these terms will stick around, Taglia­monte say’s there’s al­most no chance.

“These are things that are con­stantly be­ing re­newed, de­pend­ing on the na­ture of the dat­ing prac­tice,” she said, adding the terms also vary across re­gions and not just gen­er­a­tions. Snog­ging, for ex­am­ple, is a word used in Bri­tain which means kiss­ing.

Since these terms evolve quickly, be­ing out of the game for even just a few months can leave daters scratch­ing their heads. We rounded up a few com­mon and some more ob­scure terms to help you keep your dat­ing game on point. Cuff­ing sea­son: This term comes from the word “hand­cuff­ing.” In the fall, when the weather starts get­ting cooler, it’s time to find a part­ner to spend those cold win­ter nights with. R-bomb­ing: When you leave a mes­sage as “read,” but you don’t re­ply, you’ve just R-bombed some­one, and that’s not very nice. Thirst trap: Shar­ing a provoca­tive photo of your­self on so­cial me­dia to get at­ten­tion. Cat­fish­ing: Creat­ing a fake per­sona on so­cial me­dia, of­ten Face­book, to dupe some­one into hav­ing an on­line re­la­tion­ship with them. Hat­fish­ing: wear­ing a hat to trick peo­ple into think­ing you’re more at­trac­tive, of­ten used to cover up bald­ness or an un­for­tu­nate hair sit­u­a­tion. Bread­crumb­ing: Un­like Hansel and Gre­tel’s ver­sion of the term, “bread­crumb­ing” as dat­ing slang is when you send just enough flirty mes­sages to keep some­one on the line, with­out re­ally mak­ing much of an ef­fort. Ghost­ing: End­ing a re­la­tion­ship with some­one by sud­denly cut­ting off all con­tact with them, with zero ex­pla­na­tion. Zom­bie-ing: When some­one you used to share a re­la­tion­ship with con­tacts you out of the blue. Si­t­u­a­tion­ship: If you’re not in a re­la­tion­ship, but you’re not just ca­su­ally dat­ing the per­son you’re see­ing, you’re in a si­t­u­a­tion­ship, or a “com­pli­cated” type of re­la­tion­ship that could in­clude be­ing friends with ben­e­fits. Friends with ben­e­fits: Sure, you’re friends — and you’re def­i­nitely not dat­ing — but you also oc­ca­sion­ally cross the line when it’s con­ve­nient.


One dat­ing foul is R-bomb­ing, which in­volves read­ing a mes­sage with­out re­ply­ing.

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