The Dating Dictionary

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Use this glossary to illuminate the best (and worst!) practices in the dating world. Here are the words and phrases you should know:


Without sexual feelings or associations.

Bad Pancake

Used to describe the first person you date after a breakup, the bad pancake is someone you don’t see a future with whom you use to test the waters of dating again.


Keeping someone in dating rotation while playing the field, indicating they’re not quite ready to commit.

Big Dick Energy (“BDE”)

The quality of having supreme self-confidence without needing to brag, be loud, or exaggerate. The phrase took on a life of its own after singer Ariana Grande made a (since deleted) reference to then-fiance Pete Davidson’s "equipment," prompting a fan to declare that Davidson had "big dick energy." A few other people who the internet has decreed have BDE include:

  • Men who believe in feminism
  • Badass women
  • Scorpios
  • Actress Cate Blanchett
  • Jake Tapper


Sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women.

Blizzard Buddy

Someone you develop a romantic relationship with specifically for the purpose of not having to ride out a big weather event by yourself.


Sending flirty but non-committal messages to a person you're not really interested in dating but don't have the guts to break things off with completely.

Catch and release

When someone puts all their effort into pursuing you until they “catch” you...but as soon as you finally agree to a date, they lose interest in favor of a new target.


Luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. The term catfishing was inspired by the 2010 documentary "Catfish."

Cis / cisgender

Used to describe someone whose gender identity matches their anatomical gender at birth (the most common gender identity).

Cuffing Season

Starting in the early fall, the time of year when singles want to partner up so they have a steady, dependable person to be with during the cold, mostly indoor months of winter. What sets cuffing season relationships apart from other relationships is how they came together at a specific time for a specific reason.


Being rejected, shot down or dismissed. Someone responds to texts, but in a way that suggests they’d really rather end the conversation.


The process of staying in contact with one or more romantic prospects as a backup in case things don't go smoothly with your main squeeze.

DM Slide

When you direct message your crush using the private messaging functions available on all of the major social media networks, eg. Twitter and Instagram. You usually need to be mutuals first — ie. follow each other — to avoid your message ending up in an "other" folder, and DM sliding tends to occur after some public interaction, eg. liking each other's pics or @ replying.


Acronym that means “define the relationship”. Used in chat and texting, it implies a critical point in a relationship in which one person wants clear answers from the other.


A date that feels less butterfly inducing and more like you should have brought your résumé. You’re barraged with a line of questions about school, work, family, where you grew up, etc.


Going “deep” into someone's content feed on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / some other social network and liking a post or photo.


Only experiencing sexual attraction after making a strong emotional connection with a specific person.


An extremely powerful force that can make a woman become so preoccupied with the guy she’s hooking up with that she loses sight of her own identity and disappears on all her friends.


A one sided relationship in which one person is usually being taken advantage of.


A love that lasts only the summer. Called freckling because, like freckles, they can come and go.

Friends with Benefits

Two friends who trust each other enough to engage in sexual activity without fear of hurting the other's feelings. Ideal scenario for folk who are not interested in a serious relationship, or who do not have time for one. Not a boyfriend or girlfriend; neither party has to refrain from dating other people.


"Good, giving & game." A term relationship and sex columunist and podcaster Dan Savage coined, it means that an ideal mate should be good in bed, giving "equal time and pleasure" to one's partner, and game "for anything within reason". Indicates on a dating site profile that a member is a quality, selfless and open-minded sexual partner.


A form of intimidation or psychological abuse, sometimes called "ambient abuse," where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory, perception, and often, their sanity. The classic example is to switch something around on someone that you know they're sure to notice, but then deny knowing anything about it, and to explain that they "must be imagining things" when they challenge the change.


1) homosexual (used especially of a man) OR 2) relating to or used by homosexuals (ie. a gay bar).


Fluctuating between more than one gender, or between having a gender and not having one. They do not stick to one gender, or lack thereof, for their entire life. It is not related to a person's genitalia, nor their sexual orientation.


When someone disappears from a relationship without a word. They suddenly stop responding to texts and calls and you never hear from them again.

Half-night stand

The traditional one-night stand involves meeting a sexually-attractive stranger and taking them home for a night of unattached sex -- they leave in the morning and you don't see them again. The half-night stand cuts out the staying over part: the late night guest leaves straight after sex is over.

Hall pass

Permission given by your lover to fool around with another person outside your relationship.


A variation of ghosting, in which the ghoster continues indirect contact with the ghosted by liking his or her social media content.


An "involuntary celibate", a member of an online subculture who defines themself as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one. Discussions in incel forums are often characterized by disgusting patterns of resentment, misogyny, misanthropy, self-pity, self-loathing, racism, a sense of entitlement to sex, and the endorsement of violence against sexually active people.


Posting the first picture of you and your significant other on Instagram, letting the world know you’re official.


Coined by the dating app Hinge, Kittenfishing is when you portray yourself in an unrealistically positive light in your online dating profiles. We all do this to some extent, but kittenfishing crosses the border into dishonest territory: think photoshopped or very outdated profile pics, or listing "lawyer" as your occupation when you're really a first year law student.


Acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), and the plus sign representing others who don't identify with the former who do not identify as straight. It's used to include the many different communities of people whose sexualities or gender identities place them outside of the mainstream. Now there’s also another common version, L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+, where the addition of "I" is for intersex and "A is for "asexual" (or "ally" as a supporter of the community and equal rights).


Ditching someone who has lost the excitement appeal by claiming college studies are to blame, when in fact they’re just not that interested anymore.

Love bombing

When someone drops over-the-top affection and/or gifts on you during the beginning of the relationship as an attempt to build trust…but also to establish an unhealthy level of control over you for the long haul.


Excessive enthusiasm for weddings and marriage, which annoys your single friends (if you’re the one getting hitched) or scares off dates (if you’re itching to find "the one").


A form of infidelity that stops short of the full-blown, overt cheating that occurs when a person sleeps with someone else behind their partner's back, but is low-level, cumulative dishonesty and infidelity that is intolerable in a committed relationship. Think heavy flirting, tonnes of secrecy, furtive kissy-face emojis and emotional affairs.


In the same way that monkeys swing from branch to branch without touching the ground, someone who goes from relationship to relationship with no downtime in between.


A subcategory of ghosting where the prospective partner lays it on thick through flattery and more or less convincing you that you’re The One, then ghosts you.

Netflix and Chill

A euphemism for a stay-at-home date that leads to sex pretty quickly, where hooking up becomes the main attraction.


Denoting or relating to a gender or sexual identity that is not defined in terms of traditional binary oppositions such as male and female or homosexual and heterosexual.


A completely worthless conversation, wherein nothing is illuminated, explained or otherwise elaborated upon. Typically occurs at parties, bars or other events where meaningful conversation is nearly impossible.

On A Thing

When you’re in a romantic relationship that’s not quite official but not exactly casual.

Open relationship

A committed, romantic relationship that contains an arrangement where both parties can sleep with other people.


Continuing to interact with an ex's content on social media, even if you've ceased all IRL contact with them.


The ability to fall in love/be attracted to someone regardless of their gender.


Showing off or dressing nicely with the intent to impress and gain the attention of a member of the opposite sex.

Pen Pal

A person with whom you text or message frequently but hardly ever see in real life.


The practice of ignoring one's companion(s) in order to pay attention to one's phone

Pie hunting

An unsavory dating phenomenon in which a person (the "hunter") deliberately dates "pies", or heartbroken, vulnerable people with messy dating histories, who are perceived to be easier and lower-maintenance.


The practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.


An "umbrella" term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or cisgender. It's a term of solidarity to foster community between sexuality-and-gender-diverse people.


A shady dating trend where someone hides the fact that they're dating around from a new partner and, when confronted, claim to have simply been under the assumption that there was no monogamy to begin with.


One who finds the content's of someone else's mind to be their most attractive attribute, above and before their physical characteristics.


Sending sexually explicit digital images, videos, or text messages, usually by cell phone.


A romantic “relationship” that doesn’t have a label and can’t quite be defined.

Slow Fade

The process of ending a lackluster relationship or fling by gradually reducing contact and response times.


A word to describe someone so hot that you basically see the smoke coming off them.


Someone so attractive, you almost want to eat them right up.


When a person won't introduce the person they're seeing to anyone in their lives, and doesn't mention their existence on social media. The "stashed" partner is kept hidden from view and stashing is a classic move of the commitment-averse.


When a man removes a condom during sex without his partners knowledge or consent. Legally considered a form of rape or sexual assault in some places. Considered a crappy thing to do everywhere else.


Heterosexual (the most common sexual identity). Being romantically, and sexually attracted to the opposite sex or gender. Straight men are attracted to women, and straight women are attracted to men.


When you stop seeing someone and cut off all communication and then reappear after some time and act like nothing happened.


A person who engages in consensual sex with people or couples outside of their core relationship.


A friendly, romantic, sexual or intimate relationship, either brief or long-term, between two people whereby text messaging is utilized as the primary form of communication throughout, often due to one person's unwillingness and inability to express their feelings.

Thirst trap

A sexy photo posted on social media to attract attention.


An attractive person on Tinder, particularly one who's accidentally gotten away. This usually doesn't involve a glass slipper, but rather an accidental swipe left when using the app. Tinderella can also refer more generally to any female Tinder user, especially those who use the app religiously, perhaps to the point of obsession.


The process of contacting someone through Instagram's direct messaging feature after you have seen them on Tinder but not become a match. It's an annoying and generally poorly-received way of bypassing a left-swipe, and women in particular get fatigued by the messages that pile up in their "Other" folder when they link their Instagram account to their Tinder profile.


Denoting or relating to a person whose personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.


How you act during the flirtatious and not-quite-serious stage of getting to know someone before an official romantic relationship begins.

Turkey dump

When a student returning from college breaks up with their significant other from high school. So-called because it traditionally takes place over Thanksgiving break, the first time most students return from school.

Uncuffing season

The spring and early summer months when people break off relationships that were previously secured for the winter (a.k.a. “cuffing season”) to "play the field" and be free during the fun, warm summer season.


The attempt to come back into an ex’s life after successfully ghosting out of the relationship months prior. The most common method is sending a random “Hey” text.

Thank you to the following sources for their definition contributions:

  • AskMen

  • Bumble

  • Cosmopolitan

  • Google Dictionary

  • Urban Dictionary

  • Wikipedia

  • Wiktionary

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