All the Millennial Dating Terms You Need to Know

By Jenn Rose Smith

The dating world seems to be evolving faster than ever, thanks to apps and a little thing called the internet. Spend a mere twelve months inside of a committed relationship and you’ll be at serious risk for falling out of touch with our ever-changing dating culture. If that’s you, don’t worry, we’ve got all the freshest phrases sorted out for you below. Scroll down to find out if you’re being “breadcrumbed”, why “love bombing” is a risky move, and when exactly you should “DTR”. Happy swiping, y’all.

featured image from the artist and the storyteller

image by lucy williams


Benching is when you take a player out of your dating game indefinitely. The door for romance isn’t fully shut, but you’ve made the decision to stop pursuing/engaging that relationship for the time being.

Context Clues: “Yeah, I’m super busy studying for the Bar right now, so I kind of had to bench him for now.”

image via mode damour


When someone gives you just enough interest and hope to keep you on the line. Breadcrumbing can include flirtatious interaction on instagram, occasional texting and invites, and plenty of real life flirting when you run into them in person.

Context Clues: “She was basically breadcrumbing me for months and I never could manage to meet up with her. Then I finally heard she got back together with her ex.”

image by itchban


Ending all communication without explanation. When you’re being ghosted by someone, he/she will not respond to your texts, emails, or social media interaction. Nor will they reach out to you on their own accord. You really don’t know if they’re dead or alive, got back with an ex, decided you smell funny or WHAT. It’s terrible. And we’ve all been there.

Context Clues: “We hung out for two weeks straight, then he full on ghosted me. Like, I thought he was dead.”

image by kayla clark


Someone who has created an entirely fictitious identity for themselves online. Catfish profiles exist on all social media platforms – dating apps, facebook, instagram. A catfish will probably claim to live in another town or state, and engage with you exclusively via digital exchange (lots of texting, direct messaging, emailing, maybe calling.) If something seems too good to be true, beware of the Catfish: the person you’re communicating might not even be the gender or age they’re claiming to be. Fun.

Context Clues: “So you know that guy Brad from California who found me on instagram? Total catfish. I did a reverse image search of his profile pic and it belongs to a professional model. Like, Brad’s probably a 55 year old woman in Toronto.”

image by anneli bush

De Berging: 

When a witty friend is copy editing, proofing, or just plain ghost writing your flirtatious texts for you. Also known as “kitten fishing”.

Context Clues: “I’m totally De Berging this guy with my best friend. We’ve got him right where we want him.” 

image by lululemon

Burner (Definition 1):

Short for “backburner” relationship. A burner might be someone who always liked you back in high school or college, or maybe a former job. You’re probably not that into it because you’ve still never acted upon it, but you like keeping the option open. It’s worth taking a closer look at burners, because they likely possess some characteristics that appeal to your practical side and what you really value.

Context Clues: “Yeah, he’s kind of a burner for me. We worked together at Facebook years ago and we’ve just stayed in touch ever since.”

photo by w magazine

Burner (Definition 2):

Someone who goes to Burning Man. Burners often have plenty of free time, mysterious family income situations, no jobs, and lovely open hearts.

Context Clues: “Oh yeah, she’s super cool. She’s a fire dancer and she does these really wild neon art installations. Knows the whole burner crowd in Austin.” 

photo via pinterest


Snooping around someone’s social media accounts on a regular basis. Also known as “cyber-stalking”. If you’ve seen his ex girlfriend’s facebook page, his mom’s recent vacation, or his last two hair styles, congrats! You’re creeping. Proceed with caution however, especially when it comes to exes. You may see something you wish you hadn’t!

Context Clues: “Oh yeah, he’s totally creeping my instagram. I know because he ‘likes’ all these random super old photos of mine.”

photo via shybi

Love Bombing:

Expressing intense affection at a super early stage of dating. Think “too much too soon.”

Context Clues: “She seemed cool but then she started love bombing me like 3 dates in.”

image by karina marks

Cuffing Season:

Roughly November – February, depending on where you live. This is the time of year when people tend to pair up for physical warmth and companionship during the long, boring months of winter.

Context Clues: “Oh, I think he’s just cuffing with her. I bet that’s over with by March.”

image from it couple: daniela and adam

The Slow Fade:

The Slow Fade is a fizzling out of a relationship or connection over time, without any direct “breakup” conversation. The Slow Fade may occur over several weeks, and be marked by conflicting schedules, problematic allergies, and a sudden onset of family obligations.

Context Clues: “Yeah, we never really broke up. We just did The Slow Fade over, like, a month or two.”

image from the artist and the storyteller


The Define The Relationship talk. This may be the final hurdle standing between you and legit boyfriend/girlfriend status. The main goal of the DTR is to establish exclusivity — neither of you is seeing, sleeping with, or “talking to” other people. Some couples are able to transition into a trusting relationship without ever having a DTR, but it’s always reaffirming when you can vocalize your expectations/feelings and have them reciprocated.

Context Clues: “We still haven’t had the DTR talk, but I feel like it’s going to happen soon.”

image via mashoflife


The glittering finish line of millennial dating: “Facebook Official.” When your significant other changes his/her status to “in a relationship” (and even better, tags you!) Congrats, you’ve got yourself a full blown significant other. Perhaps even a future spouse… but hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We should just enjoy this moment while we’re here. After all, in this day and age it was no easy feat.

Context Clues: “Stop what you’re doing right now and check out Ryan’s facebook. FBO!!!”