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Your definitive guide to dating terms

Image Credit: CBS

Since dating apps exploded a few years ago, it seems like everyone became pretty clued in pretty quickly. Dating apps have come a long way since those early days (as we can see in Tinder’s expanded gender selection), but they’ve almost become a dating world of their own. For those only just entering this whole new world, perhaps after a break-up or dating for the first time in a while, some of the new terms can seem utterly bewildering. We asked Claire Certain, the Global Head of Trends at Happn, to give us a rundown of the dating terminology.


This is probably the most recognisable term in the rise of online dating, although the act has been around for a lot longer. Ghosting is when someone you are dating suddenly goes completely silent on you. One moment you’re having some flirty banter and maybe a few dates, and the next you’re checking your phone incessantly, mystified at the sudden loss of contact. Ghosting can happen at any point in a relationship, and even between friends. Usually ghosts are simply too afraid of confrontation to tell you they aren’t interested in taking things further.


This is where a romantic interest who previously ghosted you has now reappeared, but without direct contact. Instead, they’ll like or follow your social media posts, haunting you in cyberspace to remind you they still exist.

Slow Fade

The slow fade is similar to ghosting, except more drawn-out. This is where someone you are chatting to or dating gradually withdraws, making less and less effort to be in touch.



This is a unique problem for the digital age. Some people manage to have an entire relationship through exchanging messages, without ever actually meeting. Most dating apps encourage their users to meet in real life as soon as they feel comfortable, so as to avoid a lingering textlationship.

Cuffing Season

This term refers to the winter months, where people who would usually be happily single or casually dating adopt a preference for being in a committed relationship (“cuffed”) to stay warm.



DTR is an acronym for ‘define the relationship’ – this is the digital equivalent of having ‘the chat’ about where your relationship is currently or where it’s heading.


Also known as “bread-crumbing”, benching is when someone you have been seeing stops agreeing to meet, but continues to contact you over message and social media. These people are essentially keeping you on the bench while they play out their other options. You should beware of anyone who treats you like second fiddle!


Tuners are people who are actually romantically interested in you, but who are avoiding being totally upfront about it. These people want the relationship to progress, so they flirt via all kinds of means, but are vague and often frustrating. Tuning is the process of less direct flirting, which can be very frustrating. We all hope a bencher is really just a tuner, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between under-confidence and indifference.



A very slippery term that can encompass everything from pre-date chat to traditional dating. When someone tells their friends they are “talking” to a girl or guy, it usually means they are dating them, but casually.


To some, this is the pinnacle of online dating: FBO stands for Facebook Official. This of course involves changing your Facebook relationship status to mirror your newly confirmed relationship.

Netflix & Chill

This is one of the most well-known terms to come out of online dating. If a partner asks you to “Netflix & chill” you can guarantee that the TV won’t be on for long!


While you think you know what this means, the slang is somewhat different. If someone is ‘thirsty’ in this sense, they are very needy for attention. Someone who is thirsty wants something or someone to the point of desperation.