From Cuffing, Ghosting, FBO and More, This Definitive Dating Terminology Guide Explains It All

If you’re bewildered by all the dating terms being thrown around these days, this list will definitely be a helpful (and amusing) reference guide.

Since dating apps exploded into the public consciousness only a handful of years ago, it seems like everyone is clued in on the new dating landscape. But for people only just entering this whole new world, perhaps after a break-up or simply getting themselves out there for the first time in a while, some of the new terms can seem utterly bewildering. Here, Claire Certain, Global Head of Trends at dating app Happn, gives her definitive dating terminology guide.


This is perhaps the most recognisable word that has arisen from online dating – although the act itself existed long before the dawn of dating apps.

The phenomenon of ghosting occurs when someone you are dating suddenly goes silent on you, with no indication that they are no longer interested. One moment you are flirting back and forth after a handful of dates, the next you are checking your phone incessantly, bewildered at why this person you had a connection with has so abruptly dropped off the face of the earth.

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.


Some people manage to have an entire relationship without ever meeting, only exchanging messages. Most dating apps of course encourage their users to meet in real life as soon as they feel comfortable, to avoid a lingering textlationship.

Slow Fade

The slow fade is similar to ghosting, except more drawn-out. This is where someone you are chatting to or seeing gradually cuts you off, making less and less effort with being in touch.

Cuffing Season

This term refers to the winter months where people who would usually be happily single or casually dating supposedly adopt a preference for being in a committed relationship.


This is an acronym for ‘define the relationship’ – a new phrase which is the equivalent of having ‘the chat’ about where your relationship is 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. Beware a flame who keeps you in limbo this way!


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.


Tuning can be mistaken for benching, but is far more positive for the tunee.

Tuners are people who are actually romantically interested in you, but who are avoiding being upfront about it. These people want the relationship to progress, so are flirting via all kinds of means, but are vague and often frustrating.

We all hope a bencher is really just a tuner, but be sure to tell the difference between under-confidence and indifference.


When someone tells their friends they are “talking” to a girl or guy, it usually means they are dating them, but casually.


To some, 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

If a partner asks you to ‘come over for Netflix & chill’ you can guarantee that the TV won’t be on for long!


If someone is ‘thirsty’ they are very needy for attention, to the point of desperation.

So there you have it. You’re now schooled up on all the ‘new’ dating terms. And if those terms don’t tell you something about the state of today’s dating scene… this video really sums things up.


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