Dating Dictionary: 7 Modern Dating Terms You Need to Know

Author Andi Lew shares her expert advice on dating and the keywords you need to know for swipe success!
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Even though dating has always been tough (Love is a Battlefield didn’t win a Grammy for no reason), modern dating is somehow even more complicated. 

According to Andi Lew, wellness coach and author of Where’d They Go? Bringing Light to Ghosting Culture, thanks to technology – particularly apps and social media – speed dating is now quite literally on speed.

“With the rise in divorce rates and use of technology, we have found ourselves in a social revolution,” she says. “We [can now] use dating apps to connect with potential love interests from the comfort of our lounge while the kids are sleeping, or find time to court while at work,” explains Lew. 

With this revolution comes a slew of challenges and a lexicon to match. Here are the dating terms you need to know (and watch out for!) to survive the dating game. 

He's Just Not That Into You
Still from popular Rom-Com He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) (Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

1. Ghosting

No, this is not the act of throwing a white sheet over your partner. Ghosting is, explains Lew, “Where you’re having an interaction with someone who just never replies to your texts, calls or emails ever again and suddenly vanishes into thin air.” 

Ghosting may be a painful experience to be on the receiving end of, but Lew says it is a product of the current dating landscape. 

“We are being conditioned to behave in real life the way we do online: blocking, deleting, unfriending and swiping,” she says. 

If a Casper ends up making their way in and then out of your life without a trace, Lew says to take it as a blessing, as they are not worth your time. 

2. Breadcrumbing

Lew explains this term refers to when your suitor gives you little bits (read: crumbs) of attention to keep you interested. In short, it is the act of leading someone on. Lew advises to watch out for those who breadcrumb, as often they are the ones who tend to ghost as well.

3. Gaslighting

Coined after the 1944 film Gaslight, where a man forces his wife to question her sanity, gaslighting refers to the act of someone making you question reality through manipulation. “[Gaslighters] make you feel small and like everything is your fault so that you will stay in a narcissistic and potentially emotionally abusive relationship,” Lew explains. Gaslighting can take many forms, but phrases to watch out for include, “I never said that!” or “I did that because I love you!” – and the old faithful, “You’re crazy!”

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4. Love Bombing

Receiving an invite to big family dinners or even hearing an “I love you” two weeks into dating might make you feel like you are on the right track, but Lew warns this could just be love bombing.

“[Love bombers] give you all the love too soon, which follows with a break-up that is just as fast,” she says.

Love bombers will likely pull you in for two reasons: to consciously manipulate you or because they have unhealthy attachment patterns thanks to previous relationships.

5. Catfishing

Lew explains that with the rise of social media, catfishing has escalated, often perpetrated with fake profiles from those who are afraid to form genuine connections.

Though dating app users tend to blur their age or height, be mindful that there are people out there who will go to extreme lengths to create a new identity.

Luckily, dating apps like Tinder and Hinge have verification processes to help real users stand out with a verification tick.

If you are still unsure if your suitor is authentic, cross-check their profile on social media.

Love Hard movie still
Still from Nina Dobrev’s Love Hard (2021) (Credit: Netflix)

6. Submarining

Also known as orbiting, Lew says this refers to when an ex-love interest pops up out of the blue after ghosting you.

“[Submarining and orbiting] is when your ‘ghost’ resurfaces or hovers over you, watching your social media stories but still does not communicate,” explains Lew.

The solution for these types of people? Remove, delete and block.

7. Wokefishing

Like catfishing, Lew tells us that ‘wokefishing’ is when your suitor pretends to have a more emotionally progressive character than they have.

A ‘wokefish’ will tell you what you want to hear when you match or even promote social causes in their dating bios, but do not have the social action to back it up.

Andi Lew is a wellness coach and bestselling author. Her book Where’d They Go? (Heart to Heart, $27.95) has everything you need to get closure on ghosting. Find it in bookshops and at

moments condoms
(Credit: Moments Condoms)

Date Safe

Did you know 51 per cent of adults are having unsafe sex? If you have managed to dodge a catfish, breadcrumber or ghost and find a good person to get in between the sheets with, be sure to get STI (sexually transmissible infections) tests regularly and protect yourself with condoms. Moments Condoms are made with premium latex and you can buy them discreetly online – gone are the days of hiding condoms in your shopping trolley!

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