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A Complete Guide to Online Dating Slang for Clueless Singles

Jennifer Dagi
A Complete Guide to Online Dating Slang and Terms
Things change rapidly in the dating world and if you're not on track, it’s easy to get confused when interacting with people online.

Imagine you're chatting with a love interest and you receive a "WYD" message. You'll have no idea how to respond if you're not knowledgeable about trending slang terms.

If you respond with something lame, your date could think that you've been living under a rock or are too old to be using dating apps. And this is not the message you want to send across if you're seeking a life partner. In this article, we explore the most popular dating terms you need to add to your vocabulary—so you won't have to stay single for long!


An automated and fake profile created by a computer program to imitate the behavior of a human being. Bots are designed to interact with unsuspecting users, fishing out sensitive information such as bank account or credit card numbers and other personal details in order to scam them.


Cushioning is the act of flirting with multiple people at the same time despite being in a serious relationship—so that you'll have someone to fall back on in case things go wrong with your main partner. A common scenario is when you're currently dating someone but secretly texting other people.


This is an abbreviated term for a man who is involuntarily celibate. Incels desperately want to find a mate, but remain sexually inactive since they can't find a woman who's interested in them. As a result, they accuse women of being shallow for rejecting men on the basis of their looks, not recognizing that their unattractive personalities and hostility to women may be the real turn-off. 


This means putting someone you're not interested in dating on the back burner because you think they could have potential but aren’t what you're looking for at the moment. When you bench someone, it's a sign that you're not that into them and want to leave your options open for a better partner.


An acronym for “define the relationship,” DTR is a conversation you have with your partner about your relationship status and where you are heading as a couple. This is the exact moment you get to decide if you're in a real relationship, are just friends with benefits, or are in a situationship.


This refers to a relationship that's not yet romantic but is definitely more than a platonic friendship. If you've gone to a few movies together without other people but you haven't technically referred to them as dates, you're most likely in a situationship.


A premium service offered on dating platforms as a way to get more exposure and increase your chances of being seen by more users in the search results. When you boost your dating profile on sites like Zoosk or EliteSingles, you'll be shown to more people who are interested in connecting with you.

Slide Into DMs 

Sliding into a person's DMs usually refers to sending them a private message on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. Some people find this creepy and intrusive if they don't know you personally.

Slide into DMs


This is the process of stringing someone along, usually by intermittently sending them flirty text messages, even though you don't want a serious relationship with them. If you're texting a romantic partner irregularly because you don't want to break up with them just yet, that's breadcrumbing.

Love Bombing

When a new partner showers you with lots of affection in the beginning stages of your relationship in an attempt to win you over, they're love bombing you. As soon as you commit to a serious relationship with them, they'll suddenly withdraw their affection or break up with you, leaving you utterly confused. This is a manipulative and abusive tactic used by people with narcissistic tendencies to control others.


Ghosting refers to being abandoned by a potential partner without warning or an explanation. When someone you're dating abruptly stops replying to your texts and won't take your calls anymore, this means you've been ghosted.

Slow Fade

Similar to ghosting, this is the act of easing your way out of a romantic relationship by slowly reducing contact with your partner over time. If someone doesn't have the guts to break things off with you at once, they'll gradually fade out of your life.


This is when someone is only interested in dating you as a summer fling, when the long hot sultry nights put everyone in the mood for love. It's often a short casual relationship that ends as soon as the days get colder.


This is the act of keeping your relationship secret from your social circle because you know it's temporary. If you’re forced to invite a date to dinner with your parents or if your friends link up with them on social media, it only makes it harder to extricate yourself if you decide the relationship is not for you.


“Friends with benefits” is a mutual agreement between two friends to have sex with each other on a regular basis with no strings attached. If you're not ready to commit to a serious relationship and just want to have fun with someone, this could work for you.


This is when you cheat on your partner emotionally (rather than physically) by flirting and chatting with another person in a sexual way. In a committed relationship, it could be seen as infidelity, because emotional connections can be more intimate than sex. If you're secretly texting someone and hiding it from your partner, that's microcheating.


If someone vanishes from your life for a long time with little or no explanation and suddenly reappears as if nothing happened, you've been submarined. The best thing to do in such a situation is to let them go before you sink or drown.


Catfishing is when you're chatting with a person who pretends to be someone else online to lure you into a romantic relationship—and eventually scam you. If your potential date constantly shies away from meeting you in real life, you're likely being catfished.

Always do a background check on someone you're dating by googling their name or searching for their social media profiles to avoid getting swindled online.


This is the act of painting an unrealistically positive picture of yourself in your online dating profiles to make you seem more attractive than you are in real life. 

As another form of catfishing, kittenfishing is when a person has photoshopped photos, an outdated profile, or embellished achievements. If you're matched with someone with a false identity online, report their profile and block them right away.

Swipe Left/Swipe Right/Super Swipe 

Swiping is the act of using a single finger to move a dating profile photo to the left, right, or top of your phone screen. When you swipe left, you're rejecting a potential match, and swiping right means you like the person's profile. 

On dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, if you swipe your finger toward the top of your screen when viewing a profile, it's called a super swipe and shows that you're really into them.

Swipe Left/Swipe Right/Super Swipe

ELO Score 

This is a secret rating system Tinder previously used to calculate every user's desirability score to give them better matches. 

It was determined by several factors ranging from the attractiveness of your profile to how many users swipe right on you and the number of people you swipe right on. However, Tinder has since replaced the ELO Score system with an improved algorithm.

Catch & Release 

This is another version of a one-night stand where you hook up with a person without becoming physically or emotionally attached to them. In other words, after having sex with someone, you release them back into the dating pool.


If someone says you're “thicc,” they're referring to your physique. It’s a deliberate misspelling of the word "thick" and is used to describe a person with a big, curvy, and sexy body. Full-figured people can read it as a compliment!


A thirsty person is someone who gives off the impression that they're eager or desperate for sex when dating people. If your date gives you inappropriate compliments, pushes you to do something you're not ready for, or sends you nude pics without your permission, they're thirsty. This behavior is often considered unattractive by singles looking for a serious relationship.


If someone ghosts you and then stalks you on social media by liking your posts or watching your Instagram stories without interacting with you directly, they're haunting you.

Cuffing Season

"Cuffing" is a term derived from the idea of getting handcuffed or tied down to a partner. It refers to the time of year when lonely singles find themselves wanting to be in a romantic relationship so they have someone to snuggle with on cold nights, typically during early fall to late winter. It's often short-lived and lasts until spring comes along.


In monogamous relationships, you can only date one person at a time, whereas polyamorous couples consent to dating multiple people simultaneously. Of course, this arrangement comes with its own rules too!


This is a short form of "What You Doing", and when someone sends you this message, they simply want to know what you're up to at the moment. It's a fun way to start a conversation or check up on someone you're dating.


This is a dating slang term for being rejected, dismissed, or turned down by a person in a subtle way. When someone doesn't want to explicitly decline your offer to date them, they'll do this so subtly that you won't even realize you've been rejected until much later. If a potential partner seems interested in dating you but avoids committing to plans, you're being curved.


This is a new dating trend where someone you're seeing sneaks around to date other people. When confronted, they claim to have been under the impression that you were both in an open relationship. It's often a lame and disrespectful attempt to shift the blame for their infidelity to you.

Don’t Be Deterred by the Lingo

Whether you're new to online dating or you've been in the game for a while, it's important to stay abreast of popular words used in the dating world. However, since things are constantly changing, it's quite taxing to keep up with it all, especially if you're a newbie or embarking on the senior dating scene after a hiatus.

From love bombing to breadcrumbing, from catfishing to gaslighting, there are so many new dating terms singles need to know to stay relevant. Hopefully, after reading this article, you are now more familiar with some of the internet dating slang terms circulating among singles today.

Jennifer Dagi
Jennifer is a dating and relationship writer and coach who shares her insights on Top10.com. She is also the founder of Moments With Jenny, a blog where she’s been serving down-to-earth relationship advice and insight for the last 6+ years. Her focus is on helping couples build happy, healthy relationships.