Today’s guide is all about the millennial dating terms. By understanding various online dating behaviors (through these terms), you’ll be able to equip yourself with enough knowledge to dive into the unpredictable world of tinder, bumble, and other online dating apps.

Online dating has widened the possibilities when it comes to finding a match. Nowadays, it’s easier to find true love outside and inside the internet.

However, the simplicity of online dating has also made it so complicated. There are so many new dating trends that solely started online. This has then resulted in new words popping up to describe a new phenomenon happening in the dating scene.

To help make sure you don’t miss out on the current dating language, here’s a list with definitions of some of the hippest and most recent online dating terms to guide you.



Benching is a kind of leading on wherein you like someone enough to officially date them, but you don’t want to settle just yet. You want to keep your options open, but you don’t want them to move on and find someone else either. So what do you do? You string them along just enough to keep them waiting on the sidelines for you.

This is one of the millennial dating terms that’s somewhat related to sports. You know when you’re on a sports team but not actually playing? You’re a “reserve” and just waiting on the bench until something happens to the other players and the coach needs you? Yeah, it’s the dating version of that. With benching, the person puts you as a reserve in case one of their main players gets called off the field.

Example: “Richard’s been dating me for more than six months now, and he shows no interest in taking it to the next level. He’s definitely benching me.”



Breadcrumbing is an online dating term similar to benching. It is also a kind of leading on wherein you send a trail with flirtatious messages but never following through. You flirt with a person and send them sporadic messages, but you’re always “busy” when you’re about to meet up. But not too busy when you’re horny, so you just talk to them whenever you have an itch you want to scratch. You’re not really interested in dating them but don’t have the guts to break things off with them completely. So you string them along to keep them around as an option.

As for the origins of this word. This is one of the millennial dating terms that are related to literature, specifically a fairy tale. If you’re thinking about Hansel and Gretel right now, you’re right on track. Think of the phenomenon of getting a small creature to follow you by laying a trail of breadcrumbs here and there. That’s why it’s called “breadcrumbing.”

Example: “I don’t get it. Jason keeps on calling me and even tries to meet me but then would suddenly stop texting back. Like I feel like I’m being breadcrumbed here, to be honest.”

3Cuffing Season

Cuffing Season

This so-called season happens during the wintertime, or right around the holiday season. During this season, everyone’s coupling up just to keep some steamy warmth. Even if you’re not that attractive to the person, you would still date them just to have some company.

This word is one of the millennial dating terms that started from Urban Dictionary back in 2010. Though the term was supposed to be a joke, people began using it and become a part of the online dating culture.

Example: “Okay… so you’re saying that you don’t like that this person’s listening to country music, but would still date him? For what? Because it’s cuffing season?”



Cushioning is the process of staying in contact with one or more romantic prospects as a backup in case things don’t go smoothly with the real bae. The “cushions” are usually kept on the periphery, e.g., texting rather than full-blown cheating.

Here’s a scenario: You meet someone you really like, but they’re already in a relationship. The way they flirt with you via chats or texts makes it seem like they’re interested. But it doesn’t seem like they’re planning on breaking up with their current partner. This is cushioning. You lead someone on for them to be a “cushion.” They are meant to soften the blow just in case things don’t work out well with their current partner.

Example: “I love my boyfriend and all that, but we’re kinda shaky all the time, so I’m still texting Brad just in case. Brad can be my cushion when things fall apart.”



This is probably one of the weirdest millennial dating terms right now, especially because the actual word is correlated to death. But hear us out, as this term kinda makes sense.

Flatlining is a dating term for a dead convo. You know that feeling wherein you’re the only one who is making some effort to chat your fling? That’s what flatlining is.

Example: “I like John so much but he just keeps on flatlining. You know… like I’m the only one who’s interested in the convo.”



You’ve probably heard of the online dating term “catfishing” where a person pretends to be someone else to catch a potential mate. Now meet the lovechild of catfishing, “kittenfishing!” We all do this to some extent. Maybe we use a cute filter, or we photoshop a bit of fat off our chins. But kittenfishing crosses the line.

Yes, maybe they’re not flat-out lying in their profile like catfishing, but they’re also stretching the truth far too thin. The most basic version of this involves posting old or heavily-altered photos, or lying about weight or height so that the person who walks into the bar only vaguely resembles the person you matched with.

This is one of the millennial dating terms that was coined through a dating app. According to the Hinge dating app, kittenfishing is the child and the lite version of “catfishing.” It’s when you portray yourself in an unrealistically positive light in your online dating profiles.

Example: “I met the girl I was talking to on Tinder and boy, does she look so different in real life! I got kittenfished.”

7Love Bombing

Love Bombing

This is one of the millennial dating terms that didn’t start online but eventually became a popular word in the culture.

Love Bombing is a form of manipulation. The pursuer will go all out to woo you. They will share gifts, talk to you non-stop, bring you to expensive dates, and shower you with compliments regularly. The actions will be so over-the-top that you might even feel that you’re part of a rom-com. They also want commitment as soon as possible. Even if you’ve just met them 4 weeks ago, they’re already talking about moving in together. The pursuer does this to ensure that they’ll have full control over you. 

Example: “Tonya, please wake up from this. That person ain’t for you, sis. Don’t be swayed by his love bombing. He’s just trying to take full control here.”



Negging is a form of emotional manipulation where someone uses low-grade insults to undermine the target’s self-esteem. The pursuant usually uses backhanded compliments, sugarcoated insults, comparison, and the silent treatment (at times) to keep their victims craving for their approval.

If you’re being negged, you may feel confused at the way this person is behaving. You will think that something’s wrong with you that you’ll end up impressing them even more.

This is one of the millennial dating terms that has got to stop. Because quite frankly, nobody deserves to be manipulated like this. That’s why if someone tries to pull a move like this, don’t be afraid to confront them, or better yet, ignore their attempts.

Example: “He said that this dress is pretty on me, but it suits my sister’s style even more. He knows I have body image issues… I don’t get if he’s trying to neg me or not.”



Orbiting is when you think everything is finished business with a date that didn’t work out — or even a serious relationship — but then you notice that they’re lurking on your social media. Maybe they keep liking your old Instagram or Facebook posts. That means they’re “orbiting” around your life. Often the notifications are a deliberate attempt to remind you that they exist.

Example: “He’s been watching all of my stories on Instagram. Our relationship ended two years ago so I don’t get why he’s still orbiting.”



A situationship is one of the more recent millennial dating terms. It’s basically a romantic relationship that doesn’t have a label. There’s no commitment between parties even though they’ve already shared intimacy with each other.

Example: “We’ve already done a lot of things together. We even went out of town last week. But he never spoke about our relationship at all. Like… Is he fine with this situationship?”

11Slow Fade

Slow Fade

As its name suggests, this is the process of ending a boring relationship or fling by gradually reducing contact and replies. It’s like slowly turning down the volume on a song and starting a new one without anyone noticing.

When someone slow fades a partner, they reduce the number of communications they have with the other person until, eventually, the other person never hears from them again. This is one of the millennial dating terms that doesn’t necessarily have an origin word to it. It is what it is.

Example: “His messages got fewer and fewer until one day he just completely stopped talking to me. He slow faded on me.”



Stashing is when you’re dating a person but that person won’t introduce you to anyone significant in their lives. They don’t even mention or feature you and your existence on their social media. You’re hidden from the public. The person you’re with is into you, but they aren’t sure they want to close the door on other possibilities, and therefore “stash you” to keep safe.

Example: “Clayton won’t introduce me to any of her friends or family. He doesn’t even post our pictures together. I think he’s stashing me.”



Stealthing is one of the millennial dating terms that you should definitely know and understand. Ever had sex with someone and you were sure they had a condom on then after the deed is done, you notice that the condom is gone? You’ve got stealth.

This is the act of taking a condom off during sex without even letting your partner know you’ve done it. In addition to being emotionally traumatizing, this is straight-up sexual assault. Condom wearing is part of consent. You must respect your partner enough to wear them and not remove them when they haven’t consented to that.

Example: “When we started, he was wearing a condom, but halfway through I realized he wasn’t, so I knew he stealth me. I need to check myself at loveyourself clinic and get HIV testing immediately. I’m so scared…”



Ever had someone who keeps popping in and out of your life? Submarining is when an ex or old flame resurfaces in your life after a long period of no contact. They break up with you or ghost you and then just come back into your life as if they did nothing wrong!

Example: “She keeps disappearing every three months and then she comes back as if she did nothing wrong. She’s submarining me.”



Whelming is one of those millennial dating terms that you’re not sure if they’re legit or not but actually are.

Ever experienced a person online that “humble-brags” the number of their matches? Like instead of chatting to you and trying to build rapport, they’re lamenting how overwhelmed they are with their matches. Annoying, amirite? Well, that’s what Whelming is.

Example: “He talks about getting 40 matches on that hour that we’re talking. He keeps on saying ‘sorry for the late reply’ like that’s so annoying. Like, we could just cut the convo if he’s so whelmed.”


Online dating can seem like a new world and a new language; there are lots of new terms but don’t feel intimidated. Familiarize yourself with these terms, and get out there to find the one you’re looking for!