25 Relationship Terms That Sum Up Modern Relationships

Dating experience | | , Copywriter & Sports journalist
Updated On: January 6, 2024
Modern relationship terms

If you’ve been paying attention, relationship terms of late go from something that sounds like a chemical formula to something that just shouldn’t be a word. You’re baffled by some of the words and “bae” is nowhere to be seen anymore! The days when the hippest and complex relationship terms were “friend zone” and “friends with benefits” are long gone. With Gen-Z now ruling the dating scene, expect the terms to change accordingly.

“Who even coins these relationship terminologies? When did it all get so confusing! What even are these different terms for relationships?” We know these concerns are weighing on you, especially if you’re in your mid-20s. But don’t fret at all. You don’t need to worry anymore about the dating game sprinting ahead and leaving you far behind. Catch up on the terms that define modern dating with our list below.

Relationship Terms That Sum Up Modern Relationships

If you saw the term “breadcrumbing” on someone’s profile and immediately thought about recipes with breadcrumbs, you need to read this article cover to cover. You’ll find yourself saying “oh, so that’s what that means!” and “wait…what?” throughout this list.

But there’s no need for any dating anxiety to creep up on you because you haven’t really heard of all these terms for relationships. Don’t let your out-of-touch dating lingo get in the way of your “pocketing” tirades (you’ll know what this means by the end of this article). So let’s get started!

1. Pocketing/stashing

Pocketing is when you’ve been dating someone for quite some time but you’ve never been introduced to their parents or their friends. Or you haven’t introduced them to yours. They’re basically harboring you but with no real intentions of taking things much further with you. Yes, these romantic relationship terms are sometimes not that ‘romantic’.

To see if you’re being pocketed, ask your partner to upload an Instagram story with you. If they freak out and divert your attention, you know something’s up. In many South Asian households, however, we do this all the time. It’s called staying alive so your parents don’t kill you!

2. Breadcrumbing – one of the more common online dating terms

relationship terms and meanings
If this is happening to you, you’ll be waiting for a text for days on end

Breadcrumbing means what it sounds like. Offering a few crumbs while promising more, but never actually delivering. This is a tactic people use to keep someone on the hook, so they stay interested. A few days may pass by without a text and suddenly one day they’re all flirty and interested in you again. As any rapper would say, don’t take the crumbs, go get that bread. Unless the bread is toxic, in which case you need to discard it.

Related Reading: What Is Breadcrumbing In Dating? Signs And How To Respond To It

3. Curving

Imagine someone approaching you at a club, and you act like your friend is calling you and smoothly slide right out of the situation. You didn’t outright reject the person but you curved them. Curving in relationships works along the same lines, where you completely ignore a flirty text someone sends you but keep the conversation going nonetheless. So it’s not as cruel as a flat-out “no, just stop. Ew” but it still involves rejection.

4. Orbiting

This one is psychological warfare that feels incredibly Gen-Z. Yes, this generation has opened a door to a world of all types of modern relationships. Orbiting is when someone ghosts you, but still hangs around on your social media. Watching your stories or liking your posts, the whole shebang.

This one is confusing but trivial. Maybe it’s a sign they want you to notice them. Imagine telling your parents about how you’re being orbited. They’d think you’ve gone crazy and the next day you’d be asked if you want to meet that “nice boy who lived next door and now works at Google”.

5. Submarining/zombieing

No, this isn’t a new video game that we are talking about. So we are hopefully all well aware of dating terms like ghosting and if you know what that is, then good for you. Submarining and zombieing both refer to when someone who’s ghosted you just decides to pop back into your life, with no explanation.

In that case, shoot the zombie in the head and stay far away from any submarines because if you let this person in again, you’ll just be looking at more of the same pain that they might have caused you before.

6. Cuffing season

This list of terms for relationships would be incomplete without this famous one! Ways to fight the cold: layer up, stay indoors, cuddle! Cuffing season refers to the rather colder seasons of the year when you feel like all your problems would melt away with a good cuddling session.

It’s a great way to avoid lack of intimacy in a relationship and it’s been scientifically proven that cuddles make you happier. So, yes, they actually do solve all your problems. Until the clock hits 9 AM, of course. With all the types of modern relationships nowadays, we’re sure you can find a cuffing season partner with ease.

on happy couples

7. Benching

“You’ve been benched for this game, better luck next time” – both athletes and hopeful lovers can now relate to this sentence. Out of the relationship terms and meanings, this is the one that will also sting a little. Benching means putting someone on the bench (figuratively) so you can save them for later. “I wish we were together, but I’m with someone right now. Maybe if we were both single, right?” No, just no. You’re being benched, find another team to play for.

Related Reading: What is Benching Dating? Signs And Ways To Avoid It

8. Cushioning

Cushioning means when you’re in a relationship but decide it’d be a good idea to keep a few options in the loop, in case your relationship falls through. You know so you can cushion your hurt with someone’s arms wrapped around you immediately after your breakup. If you think you’re being used as a cushion by someone, you’re what’s known as a standby lover.

9. Slow fade

Would you rather rip the band-aid off or slowly peel it off, which might even hurt more? The cowards who pick the latter will probably be slow fading you too. So, this is one of the terms of relationships you must take careful note of. Slow fading means to back away from a relationship slowly and over time so that the breakup supposedly hurts less. If you ask us, they just need to grow a spine and yank that band-aid off.

10. Allosexual

Allosexual is best described as being the complete opposite of asexuality. But then, what about just the word “sexual”, you might ask? “Sexual” implies that you are sexually active. While allosexual simply means you experience being sexually attracted to someone, t doesn’t describe what you do about that sexual attraction, what sexual orientation you align yourself with, or what gender you’re attracted to. It only means that you feel sexual attraction.

11.  Hey & pray – to start talking in dating terms

terms for relationships
You’ve been there too, trying to figure out what message to send to your match!

So what exactly do you call them, how to start talking in dating terms or sliding into their DMs? You know you’re guilty of overthinking that all-important first message to send to that elusive match you just got. You’ve spent hours on end trying to think of ways to be funny, witty, or whatever it is that gets the job done.

Once all the ideas run dry, you end up sending a “hey!” and praying for a response. Next time, just send any other dating app conversation starter. Just don’t send “hey”. It is literally the most boring thing to reply to.

 12. Kittenfishing

These are the people you see on social media who seem too good to be true because they are. Harvard, Stanford, AND Oxford?! Yeah, okay genius. Out of all these relationship terms and meanings, Kittenfishing is especially deceptive. It refers to someone lying on their profile to appear more alluring than they are. So, the gig is up, 5’11 guys. If you write 6’ on your profiles, you’re essentially kittenfishing a woman.

13. Love bombing – one of the more serious romantic relationship terms

Love bombing is when someone you’re dating showers you with excessive love and positive reinforcement only to become manipulative and abusive once they’ve got you obsessing over them. They may project an idealized version of themselves to win you over and barrage you with love, then turn on you and manipulate you into things you don’t want to do. Of all the types of modern relationships, this one possibly hurts the most and is one of the more serious romantic relationship terms.

14. Pansexuality – for the new types of modern relationships

A pansexual person is someone who’s attracted to all genders. How it differs from bi-sexuality is that bi-sexual implies that you’re primarily attracted to two genders. Pansexual is a more accepting and humanizing term where you’re could be attracted to anyone, irrespective of where they’re on the sexuality spectrum. As David Rose says on Schitt’s Creek, “I like the wine, not the label.”

15.  Roaching

You catch your partner of a few months cheating on you, and once confronted, they claim to have not known that you two were exclusive. This hurts since you thought the exclusivity came as the part and parcel of the rather serious relationship you two were in. It might even lead to gaslighting. Just like you would to any roach you saw in your house, you need to throw this person out of your life.

What Is My Type of Guy Quiz

16. Thirst trap – one of the more common online dating terms

A thirst trap is a provocative photo uploaded on social media with the intent to entice the followers sexually, often under other pretenses. That photo of your guy friend you saw eating ice cream on the beach, all whilst shirtless and flexing his muscles? Yeah, that’s a thirst trap right there. Did you really need to flex all your muscles and find the perfect lighting for a photo of you with ice cream?!

17. Micro-cheating

Things that you can’t really call cheating, but still something that you’d rather have your partner not do. When your partner replies to that person who slid into their DMs with sexual intent, it could count as signs of micro-cheating. These are terms for relationships you probably should not forget.

18. Wokefishing

Wokefishing is when someone labels themselves a feminist, LGBTQ rights activist, protests-attending and slogan-chanting liberal but turns out to be quite the opposite. Yes, such terms for dating relationships are important to know so that you can differentiate the phony from someone who is real with you.

When you are being wokefished, you may get to know about their actual views weeks or even months after you meet them, which will immediately prompt a breakup. It’s a problem that’s on the rise, so make sure you keep an eye out.

19. Negging – one of the newer relationship terms and meanings

A backhanded compliment designed to put you down and crave the approval of whoever it’s coming from. Negging could even lead to a toxic relationship. “Your hair looks nice. I like how you changed up from your normal style”, implying that they normally don’t look as good. Thanks, but no thanks, you need to step away from this person.

Related Reading: Negging – How To Spot It In Dating And Get Away

20.  Snack

When someone says you’re looking like a snack, it is perhaps the highest compliment a Gen-Z person can give you. It means that you’re looking extremely attractive, or as a Gen-Zer would say it, “on fleek”. 

21. Simping

The most famous currently out of all the relationship terms and meanings, is simping. Simping is usually used to refer to men who will do anything to get the attention and affection of a woman they crave sexually/romantically. Simps will drop anything they’re doing to have a shot at getting even the tiniest bit of attention from the woman, who often doesn’t care for them much. Simping could be a sign he wants more than a friendship.

22. Textlationship

terms for dating relationships
In a textlationship, your relationship exists in your phone

What do we call talking in dating terms but one that never transpires into actually meeting? A textlationship. It happens when you two can’t seem to get past the texting stage and plans to meet never really result in anything. You’ll see introverts struggle especially hard to get out of this phase.

If we were to pick a single term that defines modern relationships, this would be it. Don’t mind the introvert repping out push-up after push-up, putting on boxing gloves, and air boxing for an hour. He’s just getting ready to make a phone call! 

23. Daterview

Out of all the different terms for relationships, this one has got to be my personal favorite. “Are you looking for something serious? Do you want kids? What would you do to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict?” Okay maybe not the last one, but if it seems like you’re in an interview more than a date, you’re experiencing what’s called a “daterview”.

You might get caught completely off guard with strong questions you weren’t expecting on the first date. Conducting a daterview is definitely a first-date mistake. If before you even finish the complimentary bread basket, they ask you where you see yourself and the “relationship” in 5 years, get out. 

24. DTR

Meaning: define the relationship. A single message is enough to send shockwaves down your spine if you thought things were just casual between you two. This is one of the relationship terms and meanings that you are probably not looking forward to if you haven’t thought the relationship through at all. If you receive a DTR text, get ready to have one of those conversations that’ll either make or break your “relationship” (perhaps throw in some confusing open relationship terms in the conversation to catch them off guard?).

25.  Slow texting

You probably guessed it right by the name. It means when you receive texts extremely slow for no apparent reason. They could just be busy or your overthinking anxiety might be right and you’re going to get slow faded (scroll up if you don’t remember). If you confront them, you might seem too eager i.e a creep. If you do nothing, you might get slow faded. Real Catch 22, this one. Good luck, we were just supposed to tell you about the term, not give you all the answers.

So, there you have it! All the important terms for relationships that you need to know. No longer do you need to be afraid of these terms that define modern dating. Now go out there and find yourself a snack you can love bomb during cuffing season.

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