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.