Us gen Zers are an eclectic bunch. We’ve always done things our way, whether it be political ideology, fashion or gender identity; we’ve never been ones to accept the status quo or conform to societal expectation. The same goes for our dating lives. And as modern love has evolved and changed, we as a generation have curated our very own dating dictionary, filled to the brim with terms and phrases aimed at helping us navigate our very messy and unhinged romantic realm.
So, in order to shine some light on the ultimate keywords every gen Zer should have tucked away in their clutch, we’ve created our very own lexicon for you to peruse at your leisure.
Any gen Zer with an Instagram account will have heard of this term before. Aimed at helping new couples debut their romance online, soft launching refers to publishing sneak peaks of a new partner on your social media, ideally as cryptically as possible. This usually results in a flood of DMs from friends demanding to know details about the hairy knuckles peeking out from the corner of a recent selfie.
Another classic phrase used by daters in 2023. A situationship describes a pair who’ve been dating, either quite intensely, or for on and off hookups, and are beginning to develop romantic feelings for one another. However, either one or both of the couple aren’t ready to commit to a fully fledged relationship. Chaos, confusion and upset normally always follow.
Millennials may’ve coined the red and green flags, but gen Zers definitely extended this to practically half of the rainbow. Pink flags are warning signs, they’re not quite yet red but they have the potential to get there. Beige flags, while they might appear on the surface to be something quite toxic, in reality are simply signs that someone may not be compatible with your personality. It doesn’t always mean someone is far too boring to date…although sometimes it does.
This is a slightly more obscure term that not everyone will have heard of, unless of course you spend 24 hours a day on TikTok in which case you’ll definitely have heard of it. Rizz, in its most basic form, means to have game when it comes to flirting. Rather frustratingly it’s used primarily in reference to men chatting up women. Classic.
If you’ve ever used a dating app, you’ll be very familiar with the concept of ghosting. Often brutal and always unexpected, ghosting occurs when an individual completely cuts contact with someone they’ve been romantically involved with and subsequently offers zero explanation. Being at the receiving end of this cruel act can be incredibly hurtful and upsetting, particularly as it usually reflects a complete lack of respect from the ghoster towards the ghostee.
Oh to be a simp, what a rough life it must be. Often referred to as the clinically ‘nice guy’ of the gen Zers, simping is used predominantly as a derogatory term for someone who is going out of their way to impress and hopefully win the affections of an individual who has shown little to zero interest in them. Like I said, it’s a rough life.
Gaslighting is an incredibly important term and one that just won’t go out of style. And while it doesn’t apply solely in romantic situations, it has become a more prominent issue within modern dating. Gaslighting is not a particularly new term, however, it’s been reinvigorated by young females as a way to call out men who manipulate scenarios and use their status and power to depict women as crazy, unstable, and overly emotional—a stereotype once considered the bedrock of social sexism.
Through greater discourse and education, gaslighting has become an important tool for women to fight and counter misogyny.
No, this one doesn’t have anything to do with baking. Breadcrumbing is a dating trend that’s been blowing up online recently. It refers to the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (breadcrumbs).
It’s become quite divisive, with some considering it a shady toxic trait which leads unknowing individuals on, while others deem it fair game and simply a natural process within the dating cycle.
Now, with Valentine’s Day upon us, cuffing season is technically over. However, for a lot of us—it’s an all-year kind of thing. Cuffing season traditionally kicks off at the beginning of winter, when lonesome singles are far more likely to be searching for a chilly companion. It can also refer to the idea of lowering your standards simply to snag a partner before Christmas rolls around.
If there’s one thing to look out for if you’re dating currently, it’s love bombing. Classified as a controlling and manipulative tactic used by narcissists people, love bombing consists of some purposefully showering you with adoration and affection in hopes of eventually gaining your trust and then controlling your emotions and actions. The worst love bombers will frequently withhold and restrict the affection they once showed you. A number of psychologists have identified love bombing as an early sign of relationship abuse.
Some gen Zers consider this to be very similar to breadcrumbing, but benching is slightly different. This dating phrase refers to when someone keeps you ‘on the bench’ while they test out the waters with other potential dating opportunities.
Ever seen the film Groundhog Day? Well, groundhogging is the dating version of that film. It refers to the act of picking the same kind of people over and over again, and expecting a different result. Sometimes having a fixed type can end up being a highly restrictive and ultimately ineffective mindset.
Catfishing is officially out, and kittenfishing is in. As explored by one of SCREENSHOT’s very own staff writers, “kittenfishing is the diet version of catfishing if you will, a tactic where you purposely misrepresent yourself online but not to the extreme extent where you have a full-fledged false identity complete with a fake passport and accent. Think about deploying tiny white lies—like exaggerating your height, age and interest or even adding a country or two to those you’ve actually seen—all in the hopes to hook a potential date.”
Cobwebbing is a dating trend that involves dusting off the “cobwebs” (ie: old flames) so you can start fresh with someone new. This might include doing a deep cleanse of all your social media platforms, burning a t-shirt or two and potentially creating a 2012-esque vision board on Pinterest visualising your future without sed ex.
This is one for all the Discord fans out there. According to Urban Dictionary, Edaters are a couple who met while either playing a video game online or through a platform such as Discord or Twitch. The relationship is also normally maintained through online interaction versus face to face—the love, however, is as real and genuine as any in-person partnership.
So, there we have it. We hope that this comprehensive list of gen Zer dating slang will guide you through every unhinged first date, lonely night and romantic rendezvous.
When it comes to dating, the devil—aka that supposed ‘pro-surfer’ who chatted to you for weeks, met your mum over FaceTime, and then ditched midway through a round of appetisers—works hard, but Bumble works harder. The year is almost over, and while questionable online habits such as winter coating and reverse catfishing lay to waste in the graveyard of 2022, a new horizon is approaching, filled to the brim with fresh dating trends geared towards us, the most chaotic yet purposeful and diverse cohort to date: gen Z.
Bumble gathered this data by conducting internal polling from 12 October to 1 November 2022 using a sample of 14,300 users from around the world.
So, with the women-first dating app’s forecasts fresh and warm in my hands, let me take you on a journey to explore and explain three of the most gen Z-orientated trends set to dominate our romantic lives in 2023.
Bumble has an extensive history of championing progressive and healthy habits when it comes to our swiping and liking habits. Both its zero-tolerance for ghosting as well as its participation in the fight against cyberflashing clearly shines a light on the company prioritising the promotion of constructive and safe online connections.
This latest trend is no different. SCREENSHOT was lucky enough to sneak a peak, and when we heard about ‘Ethical sex-ploration’, our ears pricked up. As Bumble explains, “The way that we are talking, thinking about, and having sex is changing.” According to the app’s data, 42 per cent of us are approaching sex, intimacy, and dating in an open and exploratory way, and sex is no longer taboo. In fact, more than half of the daters surveyed agreed that it’s important to discuss sexual wants and needs early on in a relationship.
Over the past year, 20 per cent have explored their sexuality more, and 14 per cent are considering a non-monogamous relationship. It’s true that gen Z is the queerest generation yet—according to LGBTQIA-focused publication Them, the current self-diagnosing TikTok scrollers and Y2K obsessives are inherently far more comfortable exploring their sexualities and gender than previous groups. Surveys have recently shown that 15.9 per cent of gen Zers would describe themselves as queer or transgender.
Bumble has spotted a clear shift among young daters who are seeking the same sexual diversity and inclusion that they see in the world, reflected in the apps they use to find meaningful romantic connections. Relationship practices such as polyamory or solo polyamory have gained massive traction among young adults who’ve begun to seek partnerships outside of the binary monogamous format.
This diversity also includes people who aren’t seeking sex, which is an equally valid path to follow. Bumble also told us that from the data it has analysed, 34 per cent people are not currently having sex and are completely okay with it.
First time dating app users—this one’s for you. Some may glance at the name of this 2023 trend and picture a slideshow of prospective partners donning corsets, puffed sleeves, feathers and ruffles. However, this particular renaissance is far more exciting and involves far less fanciful clothing.
Bumble’s data has picked up a rather interesting pattern, the fact that 39 per cent of the users on the popular app have ended a marriage or serious relationship in the last two years. It seems these newly singles are jumping into their second chapter with 36 per cent reportedly using dating apps for the first time.
So, if you’ve found yourself in a slump, still longingly holding onto photo booth reels and that one shared jumper, push away the kleenex and head over to a dating app which might help you pour some spice back into your life. Oh, and while scrolling, why not also fall back in love with Beyoncé’s magnetic house album, Renaissance.
Diving head first into these apps can be intimidating, so make sure to also take your time navigating these deep waters—and remember, not all fish are sharks! Although, you can always keep guardrailing (another one of the company’s 2023 trends) in mind, which states that establishing regular emotional boundaries should always be the top priority.
On Bumble, 85 per cent of users are looking for a long term relationship, so if you’re just hunting for a casual thing, maybe head elsewhere.
Gen Zers are praised by some and criticised by others (boomers) for their relentless pursuit of diversity, inclusion and freedom of expression. We’re unwavering in our fight for progressive politics and we’re not shy about it—not very snowflake of us, hm? Well, it would make sense then that gen Zers who are romantically or sexually interested in men are looking for shared perspectives. And it turns out, they might be in luck.
Bumble’s third forecasted dating trend is ‘New Year, New Me(n)’. According to the app, conversations about gender norms and expectations have been front and centre. Over the last year, 74 per cent of men say they have examined their behaviour more than ever and have a clearer understanding of toxic masculinity and what is not acceptable.
It should be noted that there have been various debates about the validity of toxic masculinity and whether or not as a concept it actually helps to educate boys and men. The Atlantic, for example, noted in 2019: “The concept of toxic masculinity encourages an assumption that the causes of male violence and other social problems are the same everywhere, and therefore, that the solutions are the same as well. While themes of violence, entitlement, and sexism recur across communities, they show up differently in different places.”
This comment encourages us to consider some of the nuances when it comes to tackling these issues—maybe dating apps are a good place to start? Bumble has identified a clear positive shift among male users of its app. Defying traditional romantic norms has an abundance of benefits for all those involved, from avoiding awkward conversations to preventing gender-based violence.
From surveying its users, the app found that more than 52 per cent are actively challenging stereotypes that suggest that men should not show emotions. On top of that, 38 per cent now speak more openly about their emotions with their male friends, and 49 per cent of men agree that breaking gender roles in dating and relationships is beneficial for them too.
And with so many more men taking the time to be proactive and prioritise relearning when it comes to these societal issues, maybe users could also partake in another popular dating forecast, ‘Open Casting’. Ditch the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ taglines and see what else is out there, you might surprise yourself.
So, there we have it, Bumble has bequeathed us with some of the freshest dating trends which could even persuade the most TikTok-obsessed gen Zer to shift their interest from golden retriever content to finding love online.