You’ve heard of “ghosting” – here are 13 modern dating terms you need to know

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Dating is not what it used to be. You even need to understand a completely new language  for modern dating in order to not make a complete fool of yourself.

The advent of smartphones and dating apps make ending a relationship as easy as a few clicks, hardly long enough to notice that a person’s heart may have been broken in the process.

There are so many new terms and new ones keep being invented.

If you’re dating, you need to know these terms. Most of them pointing to cruel or cowardly behavior.

Here are the 13 most common ones you should be aware of, and what they mean, as reported by Business Insider.


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Stashing happens when the person you’re dating doesn’t introduce you to their friends or family, and doesn’t post about you on social media. Basically, the person is hiding you because he or she knows that the relationship is only temporary and they’re keeping their options open.


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This is particularly cruel and in fact, also cowardly. This is when the person you’ve been with suddenly disappears without a trace.

You may have been dating a few days, or a few months, but one day they simply disappear and don’t return calls or respond to messages.

The person may even block you on social media to avoid having to discuss the break-up.


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When someone has “ghosted” you and then suddenly appears back on the scene, it’s called zombie-ing. This usually happens a fair amount of time after they disappeared into thin air, and they often act like nothing is wrong. The person might try to get back into your life by leaving a message on a dating app or other social media platform, and following and liking your posts.


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This is when an ex tries to get back into your life via social media. Like a ghost, they appear back in your life indirectly, but in such a way that you will definitely notice it.


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Benching is essentially being strung along. It happens when someone you’ve been dating (or even been in a relationship with) gradually disappears from your life without you even realizing it. Often, it’s only when you see or hear about them with someone else that it becomes clear.

Catch and release

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Imagine a fisherman who loves to catch fish, but doesn’t want to eat them. He puts everything into the chase and once he has his catch, he releases it back into the water. This is your “catch-and-release” dater. This person loves the thrill of the dating pursuit. They’ll put all their effort into flirtatious texts, and trying to date you, and when you eventually agree, they immediately lose interest and seek out their next target.

This type has always been around and comes in both sexes. Now we just have a name for the bastards.


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Breadcrumbing” is when somebody seems to be pursuing you, but really they have no intention of being tied down to a relationship. The person may send you flirty but non-committal messages to keep you just interested enough — like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for someone to follow.


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This is one of those cowardly dating practices. When a person is “cushioning” someone, it doesn’t mean you’re dating a chubby girl. It means they want to end the relationship but doesn’t have the guts to say so, so they prepare for the break-up by chatting and flirting with several other people, so you can get the message.


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This is both creepy and scary and happens when a person pretends to be someone they’re not. They use Facebook or other social media to create false identities, specifically to pursue online romances.

While the majority of these covert predators are based in Africa, mainly Nigeria and Ghana, they show up on dating sites as attractive, Western-looking, perfect potential dates. They often use photographs stolen from other peoples’ social media sites to create their false identities.


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“Kittenfishing” is very common and most of us have come across this silly tactic. It’s when a person presents themselves in a flattering but untrue manner, for example, by using photos which are years out of date or heavily edited, or lying about their age, job, height, and hobbies. This is silly, because the moment you meet your date in real life, the game is up.

Slow fade

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The “slow fade” is a bit like cushioning. It’s also a way to end a relationship without having the conversation. In this case the person gradually withdraws, maybe stop calling or answering texts, cancelling plans or showing unwillingness to make plans.

Cuffing season

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Cuffing season starts in September through the autumn and winter months where finding a boyfriend or girlfriend is a lot more appealing. With many cold and long evenings coming up one wants someone to share Netflix with. As a result, people are more willing to make compromises about who they invite over as a desperate bid not to be lonely.


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“Marleying” is named after Jacob Marley, the ghost who comes back to visit Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. In dating terms it refers to an ex reaching out to you during the holiday season — especially if you haven’t spoken to them in a long time. The contact is purely to have a fling during Christmas.

Buckle up, it’s a cruel world out there!

Now read: The Devotion System Review (2020).

Coert Engels

I'm a South African based writer and am passionate about exploring the latest ideas in artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology. I also focus on the human condition, with a particular interest human intuition and creativity. To share some feedback about my articles, email me at

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