Time and time again, we’re told that sexuality is a spectrum. So, why is it that in both the media and in society this supposedly vast spectrum is regularly diminished and generalised into a narrow binary? When LGBTQIA+ representation occurs, it’s often translated in ways considered palatable to the heterosexual majority. And those identities that don’t conform to what’s now considered socially acceptable are often downplayed, misconstrued or erased altogether.
According to recent Census data, there are currently 28,000 people in England and Wales who identify as asexual. Moreover, gen Zers are by far the most sexually insightful and diverse generation yet, with many of them embracing this sexuality.
So, why is it we still know so little about asexuality? And how do we effectively educate society about the misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding asexuality? SCREENSHOT teamed up with dating app Pure to gain a greater perspective from the source itself: those who identify as asexual.
If you were to look for a definition of asexuality online, you’d most likely find the words: “the quality or characteristic of experiencing no sexual feelings or desires.” Now, this is an incredibly narrow interpretation of what asexuality is, and it leaves a real void. So, it was important to conduct our own research.
Firstly, we asked Pure users: “How would you describe being asexual to someone who’s never heard of it?” Here’s how they responded:
One person described it as simply “not enjoying sex” while another offered the metaphor of “not being hungry.” In a similar vein, one individual described it as “being able to appreciate what’s on the menu, but not being hungry enough to order.”
Of course, it should be noted that a number of people who identify as asexual may be averse to sexual contact, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely anti-affection. One respondent aptly put “sexual intimacy isn’t my cup of tea, but other intimacy is lovely.” A separate interviewee put it simply: “the sexual attraction level you have for your parents which is zero, is how I feel about everyone.”
Due to the fact that the general population knows so little about asexuality, it’s important we strike out some harmful stereotypes and or preconceived notions about what it means to identify this way.
One of the overarching themes that cropped up from the survey was the idea that asexual people are completely disinterested in relationships. A number of the Pure users emphasised in their responses that they found it frustrating when people assumed that they didn’t want to fall in love or experience romance, or indeed that they were simply “prudes” because they were opposed to sex.
In fact, most asexuals are actively interested in finding love. They just have a slightly different criteria when it comes to choosing a potential partner. For example, “respecting boundaries” is a massive priority, quickly followed by zero pressure for sexual intercourse.
Asexuality does diverge from what society has previously considered ‘atypical’ in a romantic relationship so it’s crucial anyone entering into a partnership with someone asexual fully understands their boundaries and makes sure to respect them—regardless of whether or not it’s something they’ve previously encountered.
Moreover, 90 per cent of the survey respondents stated that they do not celebrate Valentine’s Day—reaffirming that, while asexuality does not translate to zero romance, it does usually infer that asexual couples may choose to show love and companionship in less traditional settings, potentially favouring alternative celebrations over those historically moulded by heterosexual pairs.
Don’t get me wrong, LGBTQIA+ representation in mainstream media is still incredibly sparse and often rather lacklustre. However, there is definitely greater onus put on depicting gay, lesbian, and trans stories, then say characters who identify as pansexual or asexual.
Because of this, a number of young people may struggle with understanding their own sexuality, or may think that there’s something wrong with them because they’re not following the same paths as their friends. For example, one of the answers we received read: “Everyone started dating in their early teens and I just couldn’t understand why.”
It’s important to highlight how some asexual individuals first discovered their own identities—particularly if it could help reassure others who might be questioning themselves.
Some of the responses we gathered included sentiments such as simply always knowing that they weren’t interested in sex. They found the idea of intercourse overwhelmingly complicated and repeatedly clarified with potential partners that they were solely looking for “platonic connections” rather than anything overtly intimate.
Finally, we wanted to ask asexual individuals more about their thoughts on dating apps, why they’ve previously been so exclusive or the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and what actions can be taken to ensure everyone now feels welcome to participate.
One of the major points a majority of the answers hinged upon was the fact that cishet (cisgender, heterosexual) relationships, and the ways in which they connect, have always dominated the space. Some asexual individuals stressed the fact that historically, dating apps have taken the easy route when it comes to creating parameters to cater to different subcategories of sexual identity such as pansexual and demisexual.
It’s also true that ‘sex sells’ and so people who are averse to sex end up being completely erased and ignored from the dating space.
According to the community, in order to move forward and make dating apps more accepting and accessible for asexual individuals, they need to “promote different types of connection,” “create more safe options for asexual people,” and become “more adaptable for blind and deaf users.” And most importantly, there need to be apps which actively “decentre romantic relationships and encourage platonic connections.”
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.