If you’re dating in 2021, the first step is knowing some dating slang words, how to speak the language. Thanks to the proliferation of dating apps and social media messaging services, dating now has a solid online component. And just like all the other aspects of our online life (text speak, memes, and emojis), it has its own set of rules and vocabulary.
When you’re looking for love these days, it’s totally possible you might get bread crumbed and orbited on your way to the soft launch. Have no idea what we’re talking about? Keep reading as we help you make sense of
10 new dating slang words you need to know to navigate your dating apps.
1. soft launching
Soft launch originated as a web term that means launching a new website in stages. As dating slang, it means essentially the same thing, except the thing being launched is a new relationship. The term refers to the trend of posting subtle hints on social media that you’re dating someone new—two glasses of wine, for instance—without revealing identifying details. It was coined by actress Rachel Sennet, who tweeted in 2020, “Congratulations on the soft launch of ur boyfriend (pic on story, elbow and side profile only).” If things work out, maybe you’ll level up to sharing photos of each other on the main feed.
It’s an unwritten rule that if you see one cockroach, there are probably more lurking in the dark. That’s where the dating term roaching comes from. It’s described as roaching if a person you’re dating is hiding the fact that they’re involved with multiple other people at the same time.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it casual or seeing multiple people if that’s what’s been agreed upon. What makes it roaching is the fact that it’s happening in secret. The person might even play it off like they’re only seeing one person. Maybe it’s time to exterminate that connection.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, became a household name during the pandemic. He’s so well known, in fact, that he inspired his own dating slang.
Fauci-ing is the act of turning down a date because someone isn’t taking the pandemic seriously enough. The term is believed to have been coined by the dating app Plenty of Fish, and it’s gotten so popular that Axios asked Dr. Fauci about it in February 2021. He found it hilarious.
Doesn’t hurt to brush up on the difference between flu and COVID-19 before your next date.
By now, you’ve probably heard of ghosting, that unpleasant phenomenon in which someone abruptly ends all contact with no explanation. But what do you call it when someone who ghosted you suddenly comes back around? Zombie-ing. A zombie, in this case, is a ghoster who “rises from the dead” and contacts you like nothing ever happened. Just like in a real zombie apocalypse, there probably isn’t a cure for the virus. Perhaps the best thing you can do is run away fast.
Coined by writer Serena Smith, wokefishing happens when someone portrays themselves as more progressive than they are, usually on social media, in order to impress others or simply because they aren’t as well-versed on the issues as they believe themselves to be. The term is modeled after catfishing, which is when someone assumes a false identity or personality online. Online activism is a part of life in 2021, but misrepresenting your values to get dates doesn’t sound very woke to us.
Athletes get benched, or “removed from a game,” all the time. What does it mean in dating? Benching refers to the practice of keeping a potential romantic partner on hold in case others don’t work out. If you’re being benched, the person who is doing the benching might reach out just often enough to keep you on the hook, but they only really invest time in the relationship or come around when they don’t have other options. If dating had referees, there would definitely be a flag on this play.
Men’s Health has referred to orbiting as “the new ghosting.” It’s when someone breaks off all contact with a person they were dating in real life, but they continue following that person on social media and interacting with their posts and content.
In other words, they orbit their ex or former dating partner just like a planet might orbit another celestial body. Of course, it’s normal to stay social media friends sometimes, but if the breakup is fresh or the severing of ties was complete and the person is still reacting to your Instagram stories like nothing happened? Houston, we have a problem.
Does it seem like everyone pairs up as soon as the holiday season arrives? You aren’t imagining things. The phenomenon even has a name. Cuffing is another way of saying people are committing to a relationship, and cuffing season is “the period during the fall and winter holidays, from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, when people are more inclined to pair up in committed romantic relationships.” Cuffs has been short for handcuffs since the 1800s. Now, the terms getting cuffed and cuffing season are a play on handcuffing oneself to a partner (i.e., being exclusive). While these relationships may or may not go the distance once the seasons change, at least there’s someone else around to fake laugh at your uncle’s bad jokes on Thanksgiving.
Normally, when people are in a new relationship, they want to shout it from the rooftops. That’s not the case with pocketing. Pocketing means keeping someone you’re dating separate, or “pocketed,” from the rest of your life, like not introducing them to your friends, inviting them to events or making mention of your relationship on social media. There are a lot of different reasons why people may pocket a new relationship. Regardless of the reason, it’s safe to say no one wants to feel like they’ve been tucked away like loose change.
Breadcrumbing is the new “leading someone on.” Typically, if someone is breadcrumbing you, it happens via text and social media. They engage in occasional chats and messages, and they might even flirt, but they don’t intend to actually pursue a relationship. If anything, they might just be in it for the ego boost. The metaphor of breadcrumbing might remind you of Hansel and Gretel—and the trail of crumbs they left behind—and that’s exactly what this term references. Someone is leaving just enough of a trail to string you along. Take note: breadcrumbing can happen with exes, too. They might pop up just when you’re starting to move on. Normally, we aren’t ones to promote dating slang warfare, but if you’re a victim of breadcrumbing, that might be an instance when ghosting someone is justified.
The aforementioned above are the new dating slang words you need to know in 2021.