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? 

Ghosting is 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.

Introverted Alpha Male

The belief that every man has the abilty to exert alpha tendencies and personality traits in specific environments and situations even if he is an introvert. With proper coaching and awareness, these men can use their subtle confidence in select areas of their life and extrapolate that to other areas where they struggle i.e. women, social settings, etc.

Stashing Definition

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


Ambiguous relationship with no label. Could be friends with benefits, could be an open relationship could be a commitment.

What is Gaslighting? Gaslight Definition

Gaslight is the Psychological tactic of sowing doubt in the mind of an individual by denying facts and avoiding reality. It’s a form of manipulation whereby one part denies all sense of facts and reality to a point where the other person begins to accepts this as truth. Gaslight meaning with respect to dating occurs when one person manipulates the other person to the point that the other person accepts all the blame in the relationship.


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? 

Hatfishing is 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?

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


Breadcrumbing is an act of sending limited, sporadic messages to keep people in mind but resulting in the relationship being stuck in neutral.

What is Catfishing? What does Catfishing Mean?

Catfishing is 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).

PDA Meaning

Public Displays of Affection

Love Language


Kittenfishing is like catfishing but on a smaller scale. These are small white lies that people use to enhance their appearance look more appealing on their dating profiles (termed coined by Hinge). One such example is Dwight Schrute’s title Assistant Regional Manager vs Assistant to the Regional Manager.

Other examples include adding a few inches to your height, changing your actual location, stating you are single when you are separated, having kids and not mentioning that fact, using older photos that don’t look like you, cropping photos to make yourself look slimmer, using slimming photo effects, taking photos at high angles, using filters to hide facial imperfections and blemishes, swapping parents for roommates references, balding,

Submarining Definition

Submarining, is like ghosting but the person reappears randomly into your life without explanation.

What does Thirsty mean?

Thirsty is the act of being too eager like a wanderer thirsting for water in the dessert


Momfishing is 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?

Right Swipe means yes, I like this person. Similarly, I approve.

Left-Swipe definition?

Left Swipe means no, I do not approve of this person, idea or suggestion.


Benching is the act of stringing someone along slowly without formally ending the relationship.

Stage 5 Clinger

Most famous reference is from the movie Wedding Crashers. It is someone who becomes overly attached and appears rather crazy (bulging eyes, separation anxiety and possessive and talks in absolute terms fairly early on in the relationship or dating for that matter). Typically if you are dating a stage 5 clinger, you fear for your life if the relationship ends.

Cuffing Season

Cuffing season is the 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 (DTR definition). Acronym when one person has a conversation to define the dating situation usually to confirm whether it is casual or a committed relationship.


Friend-zoned occurs when you come to regard (someone) solely as a friend, despite their unreciprocated romantic or sexual interest in you. Guys are usually the ones being friendzoned.


Involuntary Celibates (aka Incels) are a part of an online subculture who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one.

Slow Fade

A slow fade is an attempt to distance oneself in a relationship by reducing contact, taking longer to respond in hopes that the other person will break things off.

NSA Meaning

No Strings Attached, hookup, casual relationship.


Roaching is 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

Pie Hunting is 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.


A fuckboi is a term reserved usually for a straight white male man whore. Will usually say anything to a girl to hookup with them including I love you,  sprinkle them with compliments (love-bombing), talk about a future together or is totally infatuated with you but doesn’t take the time to get to know you.


Orbiting is like ghosting but you continue to stalk the person online usually on Instagram.


Cushioning is the 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).


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

Friends With Benefits (FWB Definition)

Friends with benefits is the 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.


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


Shaveducking is the act of pretending to like someone only for their beard.

What is Monogamish?

It’s a term applied to people who are in a committed relationship but can sleep with others. The definition is different from monogamy or monagaous in that those terms refer to exclusivity in addition to commitment. There is a gap between monogamish and those yet to DTR in which people are committed to each other but have not made any verbal commitment but also have not ruled out seeing others yet.


I have heard multiple definitions of Tindstagramming but I will lay them all out here.

Tindstagramming is when someone whom you swiped left (any dating app) decides to stalk you on Instagram and attempts to slide into your DMs to connect with you there.

The other definition of Tindstagramming I have heard is when people add their Instagram handles to dating profiles to get more likes.

Either way, both seem tasteless and creepy or self-absorbed.


Zombeing is when someone ghosts you and then tries to reappear in your life either online or offline. This term is trending as of late during Covid-19 as people are lonely, getting desperate or trying to reach out to past flings, exes or matches.

Love Bombing

Love-Bombing is 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.

Out of My League Meaning

In dating apps, there is a notion that people are within the same league or desirable groups, mostly dictated around wealth, dating age range education, lifestyle, looks and height. For example, a guy who is 5’5″ is viewed as out of his league for a woman who is 5’10”. Similarly a guy who is a blue collar worker is sometimes viewed in society as dating outside his league if he dates a woman who is Ivy League educated.

People in theory can date up (or outside their league) based on education, achievements, celebrity status, wealth or personality.

Thirst Trap, What Is Thirst-Trap?

Posting of a highly seductive, suggestive photo either to get attention, get likes on social media or illustrate you are looking for a hookup. Often viewed as tacky, creepy, gross, and full on insecurity and self-worth.


Backhanded compliment. An insult disguised as a compliment. Used by pathetic pickup artists (PUA) as they lack creativity and confidence to have honest conversations with others. Tactic to belittle others to lower their self-confidence and sow doubt. Teasing is viewed as light-hearted and playful while negging is viewed attacking insecurities.

Alpha Male

Alpha males tend to be self-absorbed, loud, pushy and vulgar when rejected. They use cliche, corny and at times crude jokes and lines. They don’t take no for an answer. They are the type to bombard you with questions, have vague profiles, be very sexual and forward within the first few messages. 

Beta Male

These are shy, quiet introverts. They lack confidence, are indecisive, have self-doubts, are insecure and tend to overthink everything. They are always nervous about being judged.

Omega Male

Omega males are quieter, yet still confident in their own skin. They let their appearance, actions, expressions, etiquette, people around them and manners speak for themselves. They are more free-thinking, independent and don’t need validation. They are possess a subtle style that is understated but purposeful. These are the guys you need to date.

Dateable aka Relationship Material

The notion that some people are only worth a hookup or something casual vs being worthy of dating, being seen in public and capable or being in a relationship.

What Does Netflix and Chill Mean?

Netflix and chill is a more subtle way to suggest someone come over for something sexual. It’s also an excuse kids give parents when they plan to go over to someone’s place to hookup.


Pretending to be more progressive and active than they actually are.

What does MGTOW mean?

MGTOW is an anti-feminist movement where by men (in an online community such a Reddit r/mgtow) advocate to separate themselves women and from a society they believe is destroyed by feminism.

Married But Looking aka Married But Available (MBA)

Terms that identify as individuals who are married but are in open-relationships or are actively looking to cheat on their spouse

Alpha Woman, Alpha Female

Driven, ambitious woman who is well-spoken, confident and usually has an advanced degree MBA, JD, PHD, etc. Some alpha females have a hard time dating because they seek alpha males which often are unwilling to take a backseat or at least support strong women.

Wife Material

Someone that you find smart, attractive, social, emotionally intelligent, not need and nurturing. You can be infatuated with a woman and have a great physical relationship but might not view her as wife material.

Shit Test or Shit Testing

A test performed by one person to another to judge reaction and evaluate the person. Tests or difficult situations happen naturaly and organically like encounters with kids, homeless people, servers, cab drivers, road trips, traffic but these tests are conducted intentionally. Often such people have security issues and need validation to open up or trust others.

How To Spot Red Flags While Online Dating

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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