Cushioning, Ghosting, Breadcrumbing: A Bluffer’s Guide To Online Dating Terminology

Know the game before you get played.

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Y’all, it’s a jungle out there. When we’re not worried about getting ghosted or benched by people who we actually like, we’re having to field off people sliding into our DMs asking if we’re DTF. Being single in 2017 is exhausting as it is confusing.

Thankfully, Claire Certain, Head of Global Trends and Dating Expert at Happn, has trawled through the data and given us the low-down on the trends and terminology we need to keep on top of in order to nail the online dating game. We even threw in a few of our own to cover all bases.

Here’s an list of dating terminology you need to know so you can know the plays before you get played.

#1 Textlationship

When your relationship is confined to text, Facebook instant messenger and tagged memes. Perhaps you met online and haven’t made the move to catch up IRL yet, or you’re old friends but feel much more comfortable keeping your intimacy online. Either way, if it’s been an extended period of time and it’s strictly cyber: it’s a textlationship.

#2 The Ick

Popularised by the dating show Love Island, ‘The Ick’ is that feeling you get after a few dates with a person and you suddenly realise they repulse you. It’s a simple term to describe that unavoidable deflation of attraction. “It’s not you, it’s the ick.”

#3 Cuffing Season

Where someone who usually loves casual dating in summer snags a relationship for the winter months. Kind of like if you were a hibernating bear, who is also a horny jerk.

#4 Ghosting

The worst of the worst. We’ve spoken about ghosting quite a lot before, but for those of you who’re new to this royally fucked trend, read on.

Ghosting is where you chat to a person for a while, feel optimistic about where it’s going, head out on a couple of dates and then… nothing. Literally nada. They don’t reply to your texts, they stop asking you out, they’ve unfollowed you on Insta and stopped watching your snap stories.

#soznotsoz but ghosting is a coward’s game. For a satisfying story about a jerky ghoster who got their comeuppance, please read this.

#5 DTR

Short for ‘define the relationship’. If someone asks you to DTR, you better have an answer.

#6 DTF

A lot less wholesome than DTR, being asked if you’re DTF is a person wanting to know if you’re ‘down to fuck’.

Ty for asking! No thank you! You can go shave your back now!

#7 Slow Fade

The slow fade is just like ghosting but way more drawn out. You’ll gradually hear less and less from the person until you mutually agree that you’ve reached a stalemate. Still cowardly like ghosting but way less harsh.

#8 Cushioning

Cushioning is about lining up a bunch of potential people to soften the fall in case it doesn’t work out with the person you’re currently dating. It’s basically like having a bunch of side pieces.

If you’re constantly being hit up when someone gets out of a relationship, you could be their cushion. Avoid at all costs.

#9 Benching

Similar to cushioning, benching is when you’re put on the sidelines as someone’s last resort. Just like in sport, you’re pretty much put on hold until a person is single again and hits you up. Harsh AF.

#10 Haunting

When someone’s ghosts you completely but comes back from the dead by liking one of your posts or following you on Instagram after a four month hiatus. They won’t directly message you, they’ll just hover around your socials like a creepy goddamn zombie.

Turn back into that ghost and float away. Smdh.

#11 Breadcrumbing

When a person wants to keep you on the bench but they don’t want to keep in constant contact, they throw out a few breadcrumbs. A message here or there, a like on a photo, a question about your family, a direct snapchat.

Breadcrumbers are good at keeping you nice and cushioned so beware. You ain’t no fallback.

#12 Tuning

Tuning is flirting but way more pointed and strategic. It involves a person showing a lot of interest in you but refusing to commit to anything serious. Getting tuned can be either seriously flattering or seriously exhausting.

#13 Sliding Into The DMs

When you only know someone from their social media (usually Instagram or Twitter) but want to spark up a conversation via private message. Sliding into someone’s DMs is a bit creepy as you don’t really know the person, you’re just taking a gamble after they post a particularly good selfie. No judgement here tho.

#14 Talking

If you’re talking to someone, you’re testing the waters. You’re not dating, you’re not friends but, you know, you’re ‘talking’.

#15 FBO

FBO means ‘Facebook Offical’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the sense that you changed your relationship status (because who does that anymore?) but you could have posted a photo together for the first time, or checked in together on a date night.

Making the FBO leap means that shit is now written in history. Good luck.

#16 Thirsty

Being thirsty means you’re way too keen and not in a cute way. In more of a ‘I’m terrified that they’ve swabbed my pillowcase for DNA’ way.

(Lead image: The Mindy Project/Hulu)