List of Online Dating Slang, Lingo, Jargon, Phrases, Terms. Definitions & Meanings: Stashing, Ghosting, Hatfishing, Catfishing, Gaslighting, Breadcrumbing, Thirsty & More

When it comes to online dating, you will notice a certain set of terms people use to describe others and situations. Most of these terms are used by immature folks, are cringeworthy in nature.

I provide these not that you use them but rather so that you can identify those that do more easily. People who use such terms are often immature or jaded from OLD (online dating acronym) but some terms can be helpful to identify by name and call people out for such behavior.

These are terms largely created by news outlets and pop culture sites aimed at millennials and used commonly by the folks on Reddit and other anonymous platforms.

What Is Ghosting?

The act of suddenly disappearing without a trace after several dates. One of the most ambiguous terms on this list with respect to timing. Note ghosting cannot happen after one date or if you have never gone on a date.

Stashing Definition

The act where a person keeps you away from others in his/her life (friends, family, colleagues, social media etc.) when dating.

What is Gaslighting?

Psychological tactic of sowing doubt in the mind of an individual by denying facts and avoiding reality. It’s a form of manipulation where by one part denies all sense of facts and reality to a point where the other person begins to accepts this as truth.


Sexting is defined as the sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images, videos, memes, jokes, emojis primarily between people.

Is Online Dating Safe?

What is Hatfishing? 

The act where a guy wears a hat in all his dating photos and even his early dates with the intention of hiding his hair loss.

What Does Dogfishing Mean?

The act where an insecure guy uses a dog (not his own) in dating photos in order to lure women.


Act of sending limited, sporadic messages to keep people in mind but resulting in the relationship being stuck in neutral.

What is Catfishing?

The act whereby a user creates a fake profiles to stalk or target a victim for abuse, deception or fraud. Can also refer to actual dating profiles whereby users deliberately use photos that are old and outdated i.e. 5 years or more or don’t reflect how the user looks like today (usually men who lost hair or gained weight or women how have gained weight or used photos to make them look younger).

Submarining Definition

Like ghosting but the person reappears randomly into your life without explanation.

What does Thirsty mean?

Act of being too eager like a wanderer thirsting for water in the dessert


The act whereby a guy sets up a dating profile pretending to be his mom and contacts women on behalf of her son (himself).

Similarly, it’s not unheard of for Jewish moms and Indian moms to create profiles for their sons or reach out to potential matches directly on dating apps.

What does Right Swipe mean?

Mean yes, I like this person. Similarly, I approve.

Left-Swipe definition?

No, I do not approve of this person, idea or suggestion.


Act of stringing someone along slowly without formally ending the relationship.

Cuffing Season

End of fall through winter season where single people are more likely to join dating apps and date each other to keep company during the cold months.

DTR Conversation

Define the relationship. Acronym when one person has a conversation to define the dating situation usually to confirm whether it is casual or a committed relationship.


Involuntary celibates are a part of an online subculture who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one.

Slow Fade

Attempt to distance oneself in a relationship by reducing contact, taking longer to respond in hopes that the other person will break things off.


When a person you are seeing is hiding the fact they are seeing others. When confronted they scamper off without explanation like a cockroach.

Pie Hunting

The act of deliberately seeking out single people with a disastrous dating or relationship history with the idea these folks are vulnerable and thus easier and lower-maintenance to approach.


Like ghosting but you continue to stalk the person online usually on Instagram.


Process of keeping in touch and in good terms with a few people in case your other pursuits do not work out. Similar to cookie-jarring (casually dating someone as a backup without the intent of becoming exclusive).


Act of excessively posting photos online and on social media to make an ex jealous. Usually done super early upon meeting.

Friends With Benefits

Term used for those seeking to maintain a platonic relationship with the benefits of hooking up but without the work or effort of relationships i.e. valentine’s dates, gifts for birthdays, holding hands etc.


Act of pretending you are not in a relationship and when confronted, play dumb, deny it or scamper like a cockroach.


The act of pretending to like someone only for their beard

Love Bombing

Outwardly aggressive flirtation, compliments usually online. Usually performed by folks who are super lonely or trying to build control over someone to take advantage of them. Similar to ‘Mosting’ whereby an individual creates a fake sense of intimacy through words only to describe feelings very quickly upon meeting.

How To Spot Online Dating Red Flags In Dating App Profiles

Some more traditional forms or manipulation and wastes of time can be experienced through narcissism. Some people like the idea of being in a relationship or rather hate being alone. You should be cautious of people if relationships are not progressing like you desire. Don’t accept empty promises and vague timelines.

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

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