Modern Dating Lingo : Decoding terms – Benching? Ghosting? Situationships?

Modern Dating Lingo : Decoding terms – Benching? Ghosting? Situationships?

Devika Khanna

Mental Health Professional & Trainer


Over the last few years, the concept of dating and relationships has evolved and so has the dating lingo. With the easy reach provided by online apps and social media, it is so important that every person, young or not so young, seeking a partner, is aware of and protected from the games that are played.

These games can have serious repercussions on one’s mental and physical well being; and impact the path one seeks in life.

I first joined a dating app when I was 20. In those days Tinder was a popular choice. When I joined Tinder, I did so, hoping to fulfil my fairytale fantasy of finding a prince and living happily ever after.

But I received the shock of my life!

I was introduced to new terms – flings and hookups! It took me a while to get my head around it. By the time, I understood what a hookup or a fling meant, I was introduced to the concept of ghosting; and gosh, the learning cycle continued!

With each passing phase, we have seen new terms emerge in the dating lingo describing the new trends in behaviour observed.

Well, I thought of creating a guide to decode the current dating lingo, so that you don’t spend so much time figuring things out! And you are aware enough to recognise and prevent any of these affecting your life.

Presenting modern Dating Lingo 101!


This one is easy to understand! Ghosting happens when you are communicating with an individual who could be your prospective partner, but they abruptly stop communicating with you.

They may cut you off suddenly without a reason or an explanation. It may happen after a few dates; or just after a few conversations!

It may end up leaving an individual feeling frustrated or disgruntled.


I am sure all of you have heard of this statement, “I don’t know what we are, but we are more than just friends.” Well, people who are in what today’s dating lingo calls situationships, consider themselves more than friends; but do not label or define their relationship dynamics.

They may act like a couple, do everything couples do, without calling themselves partners. Well, of course, “it is complicated.”

It is casual, undefined and non-committed relationship that can leave individuals confused.


Dating apps are full of people creating fake profiles or online personas to deceive other individuals, usually for romantic purposes. They may use pictures of other people or AI generated images, information, personalities etc. to tempt unsuspecting individuals.

In current dating lingo, people who catfish may also have hidden agendas; such as, to extort money or to harass an individual. All you need to do is google cat fishing scams and you will realise how common it is!  


You found an interesting person who ticks off things on your list. You are attracted to them and they are responding well to you! You have spent quite a few weeks/months talking to this person but there is still no commitment.

Every time you bring up relationship conversation, they change the conversation. There are high chances that you are being benched.

Benching in modern dating lingo means that an individual keeps you as a backup option, while pursuing other people. They flirt or talk to you; but often do not have the intention of committing to you!


You met this person on a dating app and had a great initial conversation. Instead of regular conversation with an end goal, your conversations become sporadic and shallow. This person leads you on with an occasional message or sending you a meme, maybe once a week or even a date plan. These conversations/dates do not have an end goal.

This is Breadcrumbing, which, in present dating lingo, is a term for stringing someone along with small nuggets of communicatioN; but never fully committing to a relationship.

There is a lot of ambiguity and confusion for the individual who is at the receiving end.

Love Bombing

Have you been in relationships where your partner is overly affectionate? Your partner declares love very early in the relationship, showers you with gifts/compliments, is very eager to know you and is spending a great deal of time and energy in staying in touch with you.

This is what love bombing is! An individual deliberately uses these techniques to gain an upper hand in the relationship. Love bombing can be overwhelming for the individual on the receiving end.


People often confuse icing with ghosting or breadcrumbing. The difference lies in the fact that an individual who is put “on ice” is already in a relationship. Icing happens when you put your relationship on a pause.

The best example to understand this is Ross and Rachel’s break. They paused their relationship, but left open the possibility of getting back together in the future.


If you have watched Dhoom movie and remember Ali, then you know what delusionship is! Delusionship is when you start imagining a serious relationship with an individual after a few conversations or a few dates.

In some cases, individuals also imagine getting married and starting a family with their prospective partner. The other person is usually not aware of these ideas and fantasies.


Winter is here and I am feel cold and lonely! In layman’s term, your relationship status changes with the weather. Yes, you read that right!

In winters or during colder months, people who are single start dating or have a strong desire to be in monogamous relationships.

Winters or colder months can make individuals feel lonely. To beat this loneliness, a lot of individuals look for partners with whom they could spend these months.

This, in today’s dating lingo, is termed Cuffing.


Cushioning occurs when an individual starts looking out for other romantic partners while being in a relationship. In the world of online dating, cushioning means that you date multiple people, till there is serious commitment from one individual.

Cushioning usually happens in situations where an individual believes that their relationship will end. Flirting with other people provides you with a safety net, in case of difficult breakup. In other situations, cushioning is a sign that you fear commitment or are not willing to commit fully to an individual.


How would you feel if someone who ghosted you months ago suddenly reappears in your life and tries to pick up from where they left? Well, its surprising and shocking right?

This is what zombies do! They reappear in your life after months of ghosting you and pretend as if nothing happened. 

Pocketing (also called stashing)

Do you like to introduce your partner to your friends, siblings or to the world in general? Are you one of those who declare their love on Instagram or Facebook?

Pocketing, AKA, stashing in modern dating lingo, occurs when your partner hides their relationship from others without an apparent reason. They do not introduce you to their friends, social circle or on social media. There is secrecy about relationships.

Pocketing may result from fear of not being socially accepted or not being serious in the relationship.

Honestly, writing this was eye opening and made me reflect on my experiences. It is important to be aware of these trends/situations in dating.

Most of these situations/trends are harmful and can cause serious harm to either of the individuals involved. Learning about dating trends and dating lingo is also very helpful for therapists; for this will help them understand their clients in a better way!

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Meenu Sareen
3 months ago

Super cool read.