Honestly, dating can be pretty confusing. Besides working out which apps to use, who to chat to, how many people you can communicate with at the same time, and if you should wait three days before calling (actually, that’s pretty easy: don’t do that), you also have to keep on top of the latest dating lingo. I’ve compiled some of the most common terminology to keep you informed and help avoid any annoying miscommunications.
A ‘bot’ is a computerised scam program designed for dating apps. It has a series of messages and automated responses and eventually it’ll send you a link that, if you click on it, will give you a virus, or will take you to a premium snapchat channel, or something else. They’re usually pretty easy to spot, though, which makes things easier. Say TOMATO if you’re not a bot!
If you’re looking for an online dating horror story, go and watch the documentary ‘Catfish’ (2010), or the spin off show. A catfish is a person who steals someone else’s photographs and identity to fake-internet-date their victim. The catfish could be a stranger who’s insecure about their appearance/life, or they could be someone you know. They might think that this is the only way they can get attention, or their intentions may be absolutely malicious.
I adore The Muppets and honestly, I resent the idea that Cookie Monster would be associated with shitty dating behaviour in any way. ‘Cookie jarring’ is where two people are talking and possibly seeing each other, but one of them has a secret (and more serious) relationship that they’re prioritising. The other person is in the cookie jar – they’re a back-up in case the original, most delicious cookie crumbles.
When the leaves go crispy and the air gets cold, we all want someone warm to snuggle up with. Cuffing season is usually in early autumn, and the idea is to find a partner to get through colder months with but then dump in spring so you can have a bunch of summer flings.
DMing/sliding into DMs
‘DM’ stands for ‘direct message’, usually with the chat function on social media sites like Instagram or on dating apps like Tinder. ‘Sliding into DMs’ just means that you’re the person who starts the conversation.
Eggplant (aubergine) emoji
It’s a penis. Also worth knowing: taco emojis and cat emojis are vaginas, peach emojis are butts, and I don’t think anyone’s found a good boob emoji, which seems negligent.
It’s cuffing, but in the spring/summer months (any time you might get freckles).
Imagine going on a first date. The person takes your hands and tells you how much they want to whisk you away to Paris, or gets you to imagine how adorable your children might be – and then asks you to name them. The only issue is that they don’t actually want to do those things: they want you to fall in love with them, and they don’t actually care if you’re compatible or not.
Future faking is often used by people with narcissistic personality disorder to encourage infatuation. It’s manipulative, and it’s best avoided. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to spot when someone’s being authentic. Just remember that someone who’s trying to hit relationship milestones before actually getting to know you is often dropping some pretty big red flags.
‘FWB’ stands for ‘friends with benefits’, a casual arrangement where two people have non-manogamous sex with no romantic entanglements. Lots of fun if done correctly, but be extra careful with protection.
Ironically, ghosts are people who’ve died but continue to hang around. Ghosting is where people live, but vanish. In practical terms, it means that whoever you matched with on a dating app or even met in person just stops replying to your messages.
Yes, it’s a reference to ‘Friends’. ‘Rossing’ is where you have some kind of romantic/sexual entanglement with one person but then sleep with another because of poorly communicated boundaries. Does it count as cheating? That’s debatable. If in doubt, just talk to your partner – it’ll save a lot of upset down the line.
It’s a dramatic way of saying ‘I’m seeing someone but we haven’t had The Talk that confirms that we’re in a relationship’. The first few, undefined weeks of a relationship can be exhilarating (and you’ll probably get some good stories out of them) but situationships can start to drag and it can feel a bit insulting – either someone wants to be with you or they don’t.
Shit or get off the pot. If they want to date you and other people, that isn’t an issue (if you’re happy with it) but that does need to be discussed. Again, the lack of clear boundaries can just be confusing, annoying and stressful… not things you want in a relationship. The way people date has changed massively over the past 20 years. Almost everyone is using apps and corny ‘dating events’ have almost entirely vanished.
And as the scene shifts, so does the language and expectations. If you’re new to modern dating, for whatever reason, understanding the terminology can be really helpful and get you clued in and ready to mingle without worrying about misunderstandings.