A Complete Guide to Online Dating Slang (For Clueless Singles!)

Woman with an afro smiling and waving at her phone while stood in the kitchen.

One of the biggest online dating questions anyone might have when they start online dating for the first time is – what does this dating slang mean? You don’t want to sound like a newbie to the dating scene so you’re afraid to ask your date, but you’re also deathly curious and want to find out.

Here’s where we’ve got you covered. Read on for our complete guide to online dating terms that covers most of the online dating acronyms you see on dating apps today.

It’s important to know these terms so you get exactly what the other party is saying. It‘s also potentially useful to avoid awkward or potentially embarrassing situations when someone asks you to DTR or if you’re DTF, but you agree with no idea what you’ve said yes to. 

Don’t forget to check out our complete guide to #Dating app terms so you can date your way with absolute confidence.

Bae

Couple snuggling together on a beach

An acronym for “before anyone else”, pronounced like “bay”. It’s usually used to refer to someone who is your significant other.

How to use it:Bae and I went on a really sweet date last night.

Benching

Benching occurs when you’re not that into someone to commit to a relationship with them, but you’re also not keen on dropping them and moving on to someone else, so you bench them and keep them on the sidelines.

How to use it:I think I’m getting benched by Cheryl. She texts me from time to time even though she’s said she isn’t keen on getting into a relationship with me.

Breadcrumbing

Couple talking over a glass of wine. The man seems to explain something

A variation of benching, breadcrumbing is an even more ambiguous situation where you’re being benched by someone but you’re also not quite sure if you are.

The person who is breadcrumbing you drops you texts and even goes on dates occasionally, stringing you along and giving you just enough to keep you thinking they’re interested in you. The likelihood is that they may also be seeing other people and are just keeping their options (i.e. you) available.

How to use it:I think Joseph is just breadcrumbing Jane. He’s been dropping her texts here and there but I saw him with at least two other different girls this week.

Catfishing

Couple that is meditating together next to a pool

Catfishing happens when someone you’re talking to online takes on a different identity by using photos or information that isn’t theirs. It’s usually done in an attempt to deceive the other party, and may or may not be done with malicious intent.

How to use it:You might be getting catfished by Daniel, the photo he’s using is actually a stock image.”

Cuffing Season

Couple laughing and smiling in the snow. Both dressed in warm winter clothes

Cuffing season refers to the period when people couple up because they want someone to cozy up to during the colder months of the year. It typically happens around winter.

How to use it:It’s getting colder and cuffing season’s in full swing – everyone’s coupling up because they don’t want to get through Christmas alone.”

Cushioning

Cushioning refers to someone who is already in a relationship but still flirts openly with others in a bid to keep them as a backup option, keeping them warmed up on the side. It can be viewed as emotional cheating and is never pleasant for anyone involved.

How to use it:Ron is cushioning Emma even though he’s seeing Ashley. Someone, if not everyone, is going to get hurt eventually.

Deep like

Young woman looking at her phone surprised

To deep like refers to accidentally liking a post or photo from someone’s social media accounts from very far back. When you deep like a post or photo, it shows that you spent some time browsing their social media account and searching for them.

How to use it:OMG, I accidentally deep liked a photo on my crush’s profile. Luckily I unliked it before he got a notification.

DTF (Down to f*ck)

When someone asks you this, it usually suggests that they’re only looking for something physical and casual and they’re keen to find out if you’re on the same page. It might be a one-off or short-term.

How to use it:Nelly received a DTF text from her match last night but she wasn’t keen so she unmatched.

DTR (Define the relationship)

This refers to wanting to define the relationship between two individuals – it’s the time when you have the talk to define and label what’s going on between you and someone you’re dating.

How to use it:I’ve been seeing Rachel for a while now, I think this weekend would be a good time to DTR with her.

Freckling

Couple closely smiling at each other on a beach

Freckling refers to a summer fling. Just like freckles appear when the sun’s out, that’s when people also engage in freckling. It means that you’re involved in a fling when the sun’s at its strongest over the summer. It ends just as summer ends and the days turn cold.

How to use it:It’s been fun freckling with Damian the past summer, but it’s time to end things now that summer’s over.

FWB (Friends with benefits)

FWB refers to friends with benefits, or friends who choose to engage in casual sex but are friends outside of the sexual arrangement too. There is no romance involved and is a purely physical relationship. This arrangement was also popularized in the Hollywood movies No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits.

How to use it:Jamie and I are FWBs. We’ve agreed that there’s nothing more to this arrangement than just sex.

Ghosting

Couple having a fight on a bench. Man is checking two phones while woman is yelling at him.

Ghosting occurs when someone you’re dating or talking to abruptly disappears suddenly without a trace or any notice.

How to use it:I haven’t heard back from Ben for two weeks after our last date, I think I’ve been ghosted.

Kittenfishing

Kittenfishing is a variation of catfishing but isn’t as extreme. It typically refers to situations where one portrays themself in an unusually positive light and could involve editing photos, or using a very dated photo where they look younger or a few pounds lighter.

How to use it:My date kittenfished me. He did not look like anything on his profile photos – they look like they were taken at least a decade ago.”

Orbiting

Woman texting while sitting on stone steps outdoors

Orbiting happens when you cease contact with an ex or someone you’re dating but you still continue to view their stories and like their posts. You’re still keeping tabs on them, but not directly talking to them.

How to use it:I swear Danny’s orbiting. We broke up 2 weeks ago but he’s still watching my stories and being one of the first to like my posts.

Netflix & chill

This is an OG online dating term and is typically used when the other party wants to invite you over to their place for sexual activity. It may or may not actually involve any Netflix watching.

How to use it:My flatmate’s out tonight, so I invited David over to Netflix and chill.

Roaching

Named after the cockroach, roaching refers to a situation where one or two people in a relationship hide the fact they’re dating or sleeping around with others.

How to use it:Mandy’s definitely roaching around. She keeps a spare phone and cancels on Ash often after getting a text or call, but doesn’t say where she goes.

Situationship

Man and woman standing on a beach, the man stands behind her and kisses her hair

Common in today’s dating scene. A situationship occurs when two parties are dating but no one wants to DTR (define the relationship), usually out of fear of commitment or because they don’t want things to get serious or messy.

How to use it:Ben’s been in a situationship with Kayla for a while now. Every time she tries to ask what their relationship is, he just brushes the talk aside.

Stashing

Woman holding a pink leaf in front of her face.

Stashing occurs when you are seeing someone and you’ve never been introduced to any of their loved ones, including their family and friends. You’ve also never been to any gatherings involving any of these individuals. There is literally no trace of you on their social feeds or in their lives, outside of their dates.

How to use it:Peter’s been seeing Marianne for a year but he’s yet to introduce her to his family or friends. We think he’s stashing her.

Submarining

Happy couple at home looking at a phone together

Submarining is when someone with whom you have had romantic relations, suddenly resurfaces after ghosting and acts as if nothing has happened. It differs from zombie-ing because someone who submarines you pretends like they didn’t disappear, whereas a zombie would acknowledge their absence.

How to use it:James submarined me. He suddenly resurfaced after ghosting me for three months and acted like nothing happened during this time.

Swipe to the left/right

Woman sitting on a couch with a mug in her hands

This is a verb that simply refers to the act of swiping on your phone screen on a potential dating partner. It could also be used in everyday conversations, where someone you’d swipe left on refers to someone you’d pass on, whereas someone you’d swipe right on refers to someone you like.

How to use it:Did you see that cute guy by the bar? I’d totally swipe right on him.

WYD (What you doing?)

WYD or wyd’s meaning just refers to the words “what you doing” which is used when someone wants to find out what you’re up to. It is typically sent in dating app conversations and is used to check in on someone.

How to use it:I haven’t heard from Jon in three days. Maybe I should send him a ‘wyd’ text?

Snowmanning

Snowmanning describes a relationship that is full of passion and romance throughout the winter, but as festivities end, the relationship melts.

How to use it:It was going really well between us over Christmas and NYE but in January, she completely snowmanned me.

We get it. Online dating slang can seem intimidating at first, not to mention the flurry of matches and swipes you’re already wading through.

We hope this guide has cleared things up a little for you and if you do get asked “wyd?” the next time, you can just let them know that you’ve just finished reading this article!

Sarah C.

Sarah C.

Sarah C. is a writer from Singapore, who runs on caffeine. She loves a good rom-com and considers 10 Things I Hate About You her all-time favorite. Her dating pet peeves are those who are rude to waiters, and those who can't stop looking at their phones.

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