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17 New Dating App Terms & Their Meanings for Easy Online Dating

Even just a short time online dating, you probably notice that there is some new lingo out there. Here are the most common dating app terms defined.

Dating App Terms

Online dating isn’t what it used to be. You don’t just message a bit and then meet up. Dating apps have become an entire culture of their own. This means there are new rules with new dating app terms for us. There are new behaviors and dating practices that are new to us.

Dating someone nowadays happens before you even meet. You talk on an app, you text, and maybe even video chat. And all of that happens before you even consider meeting up. Whether you want to stay up to date on the latest dating app terms or just want to know that what you’re going through can be labeled because others are going through it, this article is for you.

[Read: 17 real life dating terms all daters need to know!]

There are a lot of dating app terms

Unless you’ve been out of the dating game for about 10 years, you know some of these dating app terms. These are some basic ones you are probably familiar with to ease you into the more obscure definitions later on.

[Read: All of the pros and cons of using dating apps explained]

Ghosting is probably the most popular. Nearly everyone that has tried dating online has dealt with this. When you’re ignored, you’ve been ghosted. [Read: What is ghosting and how does it affect you]

I’m sure you’ve also heard of catfishing, as there is a major TV show based on this bizarre practice. When someone misleads you into thinking they are someone else, you’re being catfished. Nowadays, if someone puts off meeting up in person and won’t even video chat with you, it is a pretty clear red flag that they are catfishing you.

FWB or friends with benefits is also a dating term that should make you scratch your head. It is especially all the good parts of dating without the messy emotions. Although it rarely works out for anyone, it is still something many people attempt.

[Read: How does being friends with benefits really work?]

Netflix and chill has become popularized these last few years as people would rather stay home and put little effort into dating. Netflix and chill is essentially inviting someone over to watch TV or a movie and abandoning that for some time between the sheets.

Cuffing season is another dating term that has caught on in mainstream media as well. Cuffing season is the period of time between fall and winter as the weather gets colder and people partner up.

[Read: What is cuffing season and make sure you’re not left out?]

Now, if you recognize these terms, you’re not as lost as you may have thought. Good for you. But there are a lot more dating app terms to be defined, so grab a drink or a hearty snack and keep reading.

Dating app terms defined

Be prepared for some weird terms, some off-putting behavior, and just an all-around vocabulary study guide to modern dating.


You know who Waldo is, right? The guy with the glasses, the striped shirt, who looks eerily similar to everyone else? The whole point is you try to pick him out of a group photo. Waldo-ing, in terms of dating apps, is the same thing. It is when someone’s dating profile is filled with group shots where you guess which person is the one you’re talking to.

Big Dick Energy

You may have heard this before. It seems self-explanatory, but it can be misconstrued as cockiness. BDE is actually confidence without the cockiness.

This is the opposite of a guy driving a muscle car to compensate for something. It is a guy who is confident in his emotions and masculinity without coming on too strong.


Curving is sort of like throwing a curveball in baseball. For those that aren’t familiar with that practice, it is essentially making you think one thing but doing another.

A person who is doing this will keep talking to you. They will respond to your texts and build a connection but avoid any conversations about commitment or even meeting up.


Zombieing and ghosting may sound similar at first, but zombieing is a bit more confusing. When someone ghosts, they just disappear never to be heard from again, but when they zombie, they rise from their imaginary grave.

This is someone you figured was out of your life, but then they come back from the dead. They may DM you, like a photo, or even straight up text you as if nothing happened. [Read: Those who ghost and come back and how to deal with a zombie of dating]


Freckling is a cuter term for a summer fling. The same way many of us get freckles when we’re in the sun during summer, freckling is seeing someone while the weather is nice, but once fall returns it shuts down.


Benching is another sporting term turned dating term. When someone sits on the bench in a sport, the coach puts them in if there is no one better to choose from. Sadly, it is the same in dating. If you’re being benched, someone is dating you casually, but letting you wait around for them while they see what else is out there. If they can’t find better plans, they reach out and expect you to be free. It isn’t cool. [Read: What is benching and 17 signs to know if you’re being strung along right now]


Haunting is one step up from ghosting. Essentially you’ve been ghosted, but that ghost just pops up here and there. They may watch your stories and like your photos but won’t actually reach out. They just linger in the background. [Read: Why haunting is so much worse than ghosting in so many ways]

Thirst trap

A thirst trap can be featured on a dating profile, Instagram, or really anywhere online that you post photos. A thirst trap is an incredibly attractive or maybe even a provocative photo posted with the intention of grabbing someone’s attention.

This would be a guy posting a mirror selfie, a girl posting a new outfit photo, or anything along those lines. [Read: The most obvious thirst trap signs that scream “I want attention!”]


Kittenfishing is a cute term for something that is not so cute. It is a toned-down version of catfishing. You may not pretend to be someone else, but you certainly aren’t being yourself.

Where catfishing would be stealing someone else’s photos and even information, kittenfishing is tweaking your own photos and information. You may photoshop images or use photos from years ago on your profile. You may say you have a fancy job when in fact you have an internship at a fancy firm.

This may not be as bad as catfishing, but it is still certainly over the line when it comes to dating apps.


Before I learned this term, I dealt with this a bit when using dating apps. This is when you don’t match with someone on a dating app, but they find you on Instagram and reach out there, hoping for another chance.

In reality, they are cyberstalking you and making themselves seem super creepy.


Remember how in fairytales someone would leave breadcrumbs behind so they could find their way back? Well, this is a version of that in dating. Breadcrumbing is when someone gives you just enough attention to keep you interested, but no more.

They will leave you scraps like the occasional text or DM, but never enough to commit.


Cushioning may initially sound like cushioning the blow, but it isn’t as nice as it sounds. It isn’t about cushioning someone else’s feelings. Cushioning is when someone is in a relationship and leaves themselves cushions to rely on in case their relationship goes south.

This could be someone they are stringing along via online flirting or even someone they are also dating. [Read: Why cushioning just makes you a jerk]


Phubbing is snubbing by way of your phone. If you go on a date with someone and they ignore you for their phone all night, you have been phubbed. Isn’t modern dating fun?


When you stash something, you’re essentially hiding it. So, stashing in terms of dating is the same. It is when someone is happy to spend time alone with you, but there is no evidence you are in their life. You haven’t met their friends or family, there is no record of your relationship on their social media, and things are pretty secretive. [Read: How to know if you’re being stashed in your relationship]


Gross, I know. Roaching has nothing to do with actual bugs but only bug-like people. Roaching is when someone is dating around but when confronted by someone they’re seeing, they agree that they didn’t know things were exclusive.

Turkey Dump

A turkey dump has nothing to do with your bowels on Thanksgiving. It does usually occur with college students who go home for Thanksgiving, see their partner from high school, and then break up with them because long distance isn’t working out.


DTR stands for “define the relationship.” This is a conversation that most couples have at some point to determine what they are to each other and where the relationship is going, not to be confused with DTF. [Read: The DTR made easy when you want to define your relationship]

Love bombing

As lovely as love bombing may sound, it is highly dysfunctional and usually comes with quite a bit of manipulation down the line. Love bombing is a form of manipulation and love itself. It is when a new partner essentially drowns you in love, affection, and attention. They reel you in with this behavior only to change later on. They promise you things will get better because they had been good at one point.

If someone is overly expressive with their affection before knowing you at all, it may be a sign of love bombing. They love you a lot but too much. It makes everything explode.

[Read: The signs of love that can be confused with love bombing]

These are some of the more common and obscure dating app terms you need to know, so you can get back out there knowing what to look for and what to avoid.

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Samantha Ann
It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding a wonderful relationship, I have decided to...