Our dating landscape keeps changing and our language does with it. Words that you thought were innocent references to baseball or Hansel and Gretel (for real!) now have other meanings among the youths.

With kids using dating slang on the internet and adults inevitably jumping in with serious thinkpieces, you'll need all the help you can get to understand what's going on. Here are seven must-know terms that'll make the internet much more readable—and more importantly, they'll help you ascertain whether one of them is happening to you right this moment.



"Ghosting" is the most important term for anyone on the dating market to know right now. Sadly, "to ghost" isn't to have a real sexy time with "Unchained Melody" and pottery like in the movie Ghost—instead, it means to ignore people. "To ghost" is to end a relationship with someone just by ending communication, full stop. Millennials don't like confrontation unless it's with strangers on Twitter, so they usually just fade away.

Example: My dad totally ghosted our family after he went out for cigarettes. He never came back and didn't pick up any of our calls for years.



Like "getting to third base," this one is a sports metaphor. "Benching" is for when you're not that into someone, but aren't ready to cut off all ties in case you change your mind or are really bored one night.

Unlike ghosting, it's hard to tell when you're "on the bench." We recommend making a spreadsheet that tracks the frequency of communications and maps out the intervals in order to calculate what's a "casual" relationship and what's a "benched" one.


Example: I haven't heard from him in a month and he just texted 'u up?' I think that means 'U on the bench.'



"Breadcrumbing" is the hot new way to psychologically torture somebody who might be interested in you!

Once called "leading someone on," "to breadcrumb" is to send brief flirtatious, non-committal messages (aka "breadcrumbs") to either lure in a potential sexual partner or keep hope alive without putting forth too much effort. It's a trail to nowhere, because breadcrumbers assure that any flirtatious messaging doesn't amount to a real date."


Example: Feeling very sorry for herself after she was kicked off the softball team, Sheila would breadcrumb Cornelius to boost her ego.


 justin bieber fantasy factory rob dyrdek foam pit GIF

"To cushion" is to keep a human backup plan, i.e. to have someone waiting in the wings in case your current relationship falls through. A dude or dudette might have flirty correspondences with someone in anticipation of a breakup, so they queue up someone else to "cushion" the blow. Now that's fun for everybody involved!


Example: Maureen couldn't tell if the relationship ended because she started cushioning Tony, or if she started cushioning because the relationship was ending.

Slow Fade

The "slow fade" is similar to ghosting, but gradual. Rather than break up with someone, a slow fade could involve telling your partner "sorry I can't this weekend" a bunch of times in a row, with the endgame being to actually never see them again. The slow fade takes effort than both ghosting and being honest with someone, but hey, it spares you the awkward chat.


Example: I started pulling the slow fade after he brought up buying cemetery plots together. It just got too real.

Catch and Release


This one is for the naughty fisherman who just love the chase. "To catch" is to court or seduce a potential significant other, only to "release" them after the deed (sex) has been done. This is some old-school behavior you might see in an old Hollywood gentleman they call a "cad."



My ghost from the summer (!!!) keeps trying to text his way back in. Not gonna work, buddy. 🙈

A post shared by Lisa Bonos (@lisabonos) on

"To zombie" is to figuratively come back from the dead, telecommunications-wise, by re-establishing communication after a long period of silence. The zombie might be an ex, realizing how much they missed you after all these years, or more likely, a zombie might be a ghoster whose cushions fell through. Hey! you've made it to the end, now you understand that sentence!