Know Your Modern Dating Terms

From ‘pocketing’ to ‘benching’, here is a glossary of modern dating terms
April 18, 2022
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modern dating
Modern romance trends call for an updated lexicon | © Koshiro K / Shutterstock

In case you didn’t notice, dating in 2022 is complicated. Modern courtship is defined by the pursuit of Tinder killer openings, dreadful read receipts, and bitter situationships. So love becomes a bumpy road – bumpy enough for a lingo packed with confusing dating terms to pop up in our brunch group chats and social media feeds. 

In all honesty, the dating minefield is tough to navigate as it already is. Everything from laboring the ineffable dating app bio to iffy online interactions sounds as appealing as being stuck in the elevator for three hours.

We are much more complex than the old school coupled up-engaged-married cycle

But when you throw in an array of unknown terms that sound more like a chemical formula than an actual word, things can get Rubik’s cube complicated.

We are much more complex than the old school coupled up-engaged-married cycle, so we added some more spice to it with practices like ghosting and orbiting. Modern romance trends call for an updated lexicon that can put the new types of douchery we encounter into words. 

If you find yourself in a dating phase that only social media slang can untangle (at least linguistically), here’s a decoded glossary of romantic and very unromantic modern dating terms.

Cuffing season

During summertime, there are two things we cannot stand – feeling dehydrated and being tied down by a relationship.

But as the festival season slowly fades away and the temperatures drop, we want a Sunday movie buddy, winter hibernation partner, and someone to spend the yucky season with. 

September is the official start month for the Cuffing Season. This is the annual period when the idea of partnering up suddenly sounds appealing.

Summer is over, so we have to turn back to Netflix binging, apple pie candles, and cozy blankets one more time – all of those hit differently when you have company. 

modern dating rules
It started with a random tweet reply – now you are binging Netflix together | © Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock

But the summer love tends to fizzle out as the warmer temperatures take hold. The Uncuffing Season kicks off during springtime, so people go back to their summeresque habits. Alas, relationships formed during the cold, lonely winter day will start falling like dominoes. But hey, we still have festivals.


As coined by VICE journalist Serena Smith, ‘wokefishing‘ describes the cringe moment men cosplay as having liberal views to reel you in. For instance, someone who preaches about gender equality and is pro-LGBT+ – but, in reality, those are just phony affirmations. 

Inspired by the ubiquitous dating term ‘catfishing‘, where people use a filtered image of themselves online (which doesn’t necessarily match the reality), ‘wokefishing’ is the red flag to look for when you’ve found the perfect feminist man.


Oh, the good old ghosting – we have all fallen victims to it. Thanks to the beauty and curse of social media, our ex-beaus can crawl back into our DMs with their eyes shut. It’s that easy to do the irksome ‘zombie-ing’. 

If you received the ghosting treatment from someone not once but twice, you can consider yourself ‘zombied’.

First dubbed by the Cosmopolitan U.S., the ‘zombie-ing’ dating term refers to a ghoster (someone who inexplicably drops all contact with you) who rises back from the dead.

And zombies have one sole purpose – to ghost you one more time.

If there is something worse than ghosting, that’s zombie-ing | © Mikotoraw / Pexels


In modern dating, ‘the talk‘ is unavoidable. Of course, only if you want to know WTF is going on between you and your… whatever the relationship status is. That’s one of the signs you are ‘benched’.

Take the following scenario as an example – you have two options on your radar, but there is a je ne sais quoi about one of them you are eager to uncover.

Just like on the courtside bench, dating players can be dropped in favour of more promising ones

Naturally, you will ease off the pedal with the second option and limit contact to a socially acceptable minimum – Urban Dictionary labelled this type of behaviour as ‘benching’. 

Just like on the courtside bench, dating players can be dropped in favour of more promising ones. It is what it is – people stack their roasters with partner alternatives until they find someone that really matches their vibe. 

© Olya Kuzovkina / Unsplash

But the love story doesn’t end there. The ‘bencher’ will drip-feed enough on-and-off attention for you to stay around. You might get called on the court for game time if the other option falls through. Yep, you are pretty much a football reserve player.


Ever felt like your partner treated you like an internet browser incognito window? You were most probably a victim of ‘pocketing‘. This dating term sounds like a shoplifting method, but it refers to when your partner keeps you down low. 

If you are the victim of ‘pocketing’ you should expect anything but being introduced to your beau’s inner social circle.

Making its appearance during the relationship’s honeymoon phase, this dating practice belongs to whoever wants to keep things secret or would rather eat stale chips than commit to a full-on relationship. And while ‘pocketing’ can hurt like hell, bear in mind it is not worth crashing that family dinner.


We are all guilty of this one. Also labelled as the new ghosting – only a bit more annoying – ‘orbiting’ happens when a romantic interest screens your messages but engages with every piece of content you post on social media. 

It’s the all-too-common phenomenon of cyber flirting through likes and retweets, but never really taking things any further than that. If it sounds like some masochistic mixed signals, it’s because that’s precisely what it is. 

Ugh, that irksome random text | © Jamie Street / Unsplash

Besides making singletons want to throw around every piece of furniture like an angry toddler, it is incredibly irritating and nosy. You might think it is a Universe’s sign to contact them (word to the wise: don’t). Realistically speaking, ‘orbiting’ is just another toxic trick to keep former flings on their toes.


We’ve learned from the German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel that breadcrumbs trails lead nowhere good. In the context of exes, ‘breadcrumbing’ is an ex-beau dropping tiny morsels of interest to keep you on the table. Flirtatious, but non-committal.

Those flirty and ambiguous crumbs will never pave the path toward a real relationship

Breadcrumbs can translate into throwing an Instagram like here and there and spontaneously dropping a “Hey, hope you are well” in your DMs. The worst part about it? Breadcrumbers can smell you moving on from thousands of miles away – and horribly enough, that’s when they will place the breadcrumbs trail.

All of that will keep you hooked but unsatisfied. Those flirty and ambiguous crumbs will never pave the path toward a real relationship – but to more overthinking and self-doubting.


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