Life Advice



Erika Ettin: A glossary of today's dating lingo

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Anyone dating today, especially online and using apps, will tell you that you may have to add a few words to your vocabulary. By now, everyone probably knows about catfishing (pretending you’re somebody online who you’re not). But did you know there are also practices called benching, breadcrumbing, and even kittenfishing?

This glossary should help you get up to date on today’s dating lingo. The concepts are not new; the words are. So next time your pal confides that a potential match is one of these terms, you won’t have to excuse yourself to the restroom to Google the meaning.

Benching: This is the dating version of being on a sports team and waiting for the coach to put you in. Someone is into you, but not enough to take your relationship to the next level. At the same time, they don’t want you going off to find someone new. Essentially, they keep you just interested enough to be available on the sideline when they want you. It’s not nice — and not good for self-esteem.

Cuffing season: While summer is typically thought of as a time to be single and have fun, cuffing season is the opposite. It’s the period from October to March when people want to be coupled up — or “cuffed” to another person — at least until spring arrives. In general, finding a partner seems more appealing in the winter months in order to have someone to cuddle with, so you may notice that people are pairing off just as temperatures hit below freezing.

Cushioning: Have you ever had a few potential partners just a text away, just in case your current relationship doesn’t work out? That’s called cushioning — because you’re making sure you land without hurting yourself too badly, in other words, cushioning the blow. It’s considered to be “microcheating” by many, meaning you’re making an emotional connection behind your partner’s back despite not being physically intimate.

ENM (ethically non-monogamous): Also known as consensual non-monogamy (CNM), someone who identifies as ENM means they are looking for an open relationship. This means different things for different people, so honest and open communication is the key to success.


GGG (good, giving, and game): Coined by sex advice columnist Dan Savage, the GGG approach is what sexual partners should strive to be for a healthy relationship. “Think good in bed, giving based on a partner’s sexual interests, and game for anything — within reason,” Savage explained. I would leave it out of your dating app profile because it does have that sexual connotation, which is a turnoff for many in the profile.

Ghosting: Things seem to be going well with someone you’ve met until suddenly, they’re gone. Poof. They just stop answering texts or calls. It’s as if they’ve vanished, much like a ghost. Unfortunately, sometimes completely cutting off communication seems easier than letting someone know they don’t want to pursue a relationship any further. It truly stinks (for lack of a better word) because moving on is much more difficult after being ghosted, so don’t do this to people. Instead, be kind: “Thank you so much for the nice time. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the connection/spark I was looking for, but I wish you all the best.”

Haunting: Being ghosted is bad enough, but being haunted might be worse. This is when your match cuts off communication, but they subtly let you know they’re watching you, perhaps in the form of a “like” on a Facebook comment or by viewing your Instagram story. Haunting is also known as orbiting: You know they’re around, but they won’t come in direct contact. It’s truly childish.

Kittenfishing: While catfishing means someone is using photos of another person in their dating profile, kittenfishing is a less severe (but still frowned upon) dating offense. A kittenfisher is someone who isn’t using another person’s images, but they’re very much enhancing their own to present an unrealistic version of themselves. Perhaps they Photoshopped their pictures, embellished their accomplishments or are using outdated images of themselves. While everyone wants to present the best version of themselves on a dating profile, this is taking it a step too far.

New dating trends emerge all the time, and daters invent new words to go with them. So stay alert, so you’re not a victim of these tactics — or the offender.

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