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.