Dating Lingo

06 Mar

There’s nothing worse than feeling out of touch when you just don’t understand the lingo. If you’ve been off the dating scene, or concentrating on career success, you may not be au fait with expressions that have been cultivated and adopted to describe dating behaviour. It’s a dating safari out there, so here, in this article, I lift the mystery on all this terminology and enlighten us all.

If you have been online dating or read recent articles about dating behaviour, you may have noticed a whole host of new terms. For many, these terms may even be startling. I have compiled an up-to-date breakdown of online-dating jargon, labels for a set of behaviours you may encounter on your dating journey. They are useful to know about, as many of them are undesirable, especially if you are looking for a long-term commitment.


When someone you’ve been seeing is seemingly interested in you, but doesn’t appear ready to commit. You may have been dating for a few months, but things don’t seem to be progressing. Maybe your partner is seeing other people and has ‘parked’ you, as it were, either in an attempt to figure out whether you are a keeper or to keep their options open. You have been ‘benched’, as a coach would do in a sports team, until called out onto the field.


Stringing someone along. The distinction between this and benching is that the person who ‘breadcrumbs’ has no intention of dating you seriously. It can be difficult to tell when someone is doing this.

Catch and release

This is your classic scenario: the thrill of the chase – and then the decline in excitement. A person who engages in catch and release has no intention of dating you – or even of stringing you along. Instead, this person will disengage once the chase is over.


Pretending to be someone else online, and sometimes luring a person into meeting in real life. It is often associated with scamming, or done by people who just yearn for attention.

Cuffing season

A subgroup of singles can’t bear to be alone during winter. They desire a partner during Christmas and New Year, and actively seek to find one during autumn for this purpose. Usually, by spring, they break up and resume their single life until the following autumn.


When some people are dating and feel the relationship is going downhill, a breakup imminent, they may begin chatting or flirting with other people (often single) in order to ‘cushion’ the blow of the breakup.


When someone you have had frequent interaction with, or indeed have been dating, suddenly disappears. They don’t return calls or texts, and seem to vanish without so much as an explanation or goodbye.


When an ex lingers around your social media, either in an attempt to get back into your life or to stalk you. They may Like a post or somehow make their presence known, without actually engaging with you.


Coming across unrealistically positively to your ‘real self’. This happens mostly online, where people post outdated photos, from younger, better-looking days, or they may lie about their job, height, age etc. Perhaps they post photos of themselves next to a sports car, as if it were theirs; maybe they are hanging out with a celebrity, when it transpires to be a waxwork (it’s happened!). They attempt to come across as better than they are, enhance their actual personality and looks, which inevitably gets revealed upon face-to-face contact.


Referring to Ebenezer Scrooge’s ghost, Jacob Marley, this behaviour occurs when an ex wants to get back together over the holiday period.


Your date is more interested in what’s happening on their phone screen than you, even though you’re right in front of them – on a date!


Similar to ghosting, but slower. They gradually extricate themselves from your life. They text less and becoming more distant, cancelling plans, acting reluctant to set up new dates.


The person you’re dating seems to be keeping you a secret. You are neither introduced to friends and family nor referenced or acknowledged on social media. This is often a sign of someone keeping their options open.


An ex comes back ‘from the dead’. This is typically someone an erstwhile ‘ghoster’ who then returns out of nowhere, acting as if nothing has changed, or that their disappearance has had no effect on you.

Exactly why these behaviours occur is a different kettle of fish, another article for another day. In the meantime, if you feel you have experienced any of these online-dating phenomena – or indeed have a tendency to engage in them yourself – you may want to consider dating coaching, either to help you spot warning signs, or to stop behaving in these ways yourself.

Contact Madeleine for a 10-minute free consultation on how she may help you.


by Madeleine Mason


Madeleine has over 15 years of experience in psychology, where she is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Applied Positive Psychology. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Counselling Psychology, and is member of the British Psychological Society, the International Positive Psychology Association & Dating Industry Professionals Network.More by this author