Just when you thought that the world of modern dating could not get any more confusing than when someone ghosts you (aka when someone you are seeing disappears out of thin air), think again. The dating glossary has expanded to include viral terms like “orbiting,” “cloaking” and “paper-clipping.”
Even though there are dozens of dating apps that have the intention of making the process of finding true love an easier endeavor, dating as a millennial is still so hard. So, whether you are a hopeless romantic looking for love or you just want to understand what the hell your single friends are talking about at your next brunch date, here is your ultimate dating dictionary of all the bizarre trends to look out for.
Benching is when a romantic interest leads you on but does not progress the relationship to the next level — keeping you on the sidelines. It is the same idea as in team sports: When you are benched, you are not actually playing. But, if their main love interest is not working out, you are back in the game.
Breadcrumbing is when someone leaves little clues (“crumbs”) that they might be into you and keep the conversation going, except in reality they are not interested in you at all. Think of it as the dating version of the classic fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel,” where the siblings drop morsels of bread to find their way home from a walk.
“Caspering is friendly ghosting — or when the other person tries to let you down easy. It gives you the false hope of future plans that will never happen,” explains Gabi Conti, author of “20 Guys You Date In Your 20s” (out next year). “In my experience, they will tell you that you will hang out ‘soon,’ but they really have no intention of ever seeing you again,” Conti told Hello Giggles. Ironically, someone who Caspers often thinks slowly prolonging the relationship would be easier than breaking things off officially.
“Cloaking is when a person not only stands you up for a date but then also blocks you on any dating app that you’ve previously communicated on,” explains Mashable’s Rachel Thompson, who coined the term after her own cloaking experience on the dating app Hinge. According to the video, after agreeing to meet at a restaurant, her date was nowhere in sight when she got there. He never showed up and then proceeded to block her from all communication (so all your conversation history disappears). Thompson likens the experience to her date wearing a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak. “It’s being stood up,” she says, “but extra.”
“Cookie-jarring is when someone dates a back-up potential partner in case things don’t work out with the person that they’re actually into,” says Theresa Herring, LMFT, a Chicago-area relationship therapist. “If you’ve been doing most of the initiating of texts and plans, you are likely being cookie-jarred. The evasive cookie-jarrer will give you just enough interest to keep you in the cookie-jar but doesn’t actually plan on being in a committed relationship with you.” If you are in a relationship that leaves you with constant insecurity about where you stand (“Do we have a future?” “Why are they taking so long to text me back?”), chances are you are being cookie-jarred.
Curving is when someone responds to text messages in a way that keeps someone at arm’s length. “Instead of just ghosting, a person will wait several hours or days and respond with ‘Sorry, I’ve been swamped at work,’” says Herring. “The responses won’t actually be truly apologetic or initiate hanging out in real life. People curve because they struggle with confrontation and letting people down. Their guilt and discomfort have them respond to your messages, but their heart’s just not in the relationship,” adds Herring.
Haunting, coined by “Cosmopolitan” editor Hannah Smothers, is when a person from your romantic past continues to interact with you on social media after you have stopped seeing each other. Read: sporadically liking your Facebook posts or watching your Instagram Stories. In addition to the reminder that this person still exists in the world, it leaves you wondering if they miss you or if they are thinking about you, which can be maddening.
Unlike Catfishing (inspired by the 2010 documentary, “Catfish,” where internet predators create fake online identities to lure people into romantic relationships), kitten fishing is a less aggressive version where you portray yourself on a dating app in a way that is not entirely accurate. “It could be using an outdated photo or pretending that you’re into certain activities that you’re not,” says Herring. People kittenfish because they are not confident in themselves and try to make themselves more desirable. But it can seriously backfire: “It seems harmless enough and a way to get interest from potential partners, but ultimately, it does you a disservice. You want someone to like you for you. When you kittenfish, they are intrigued by who you’re pretending to be. That doesn’t set you up for a fulfilling relationship down the road,” says Herring.
Orbiting, coined by “Man Repeller” writer Anna Iovine, is similar to haunting: where someone ceases real-life communication with you but continues to observe you on social media. They will even go as far as commenting on photos and replying to Tweets, but they will ignore more direct means of communication like calls and text messages. They want to keep tabs on you, but also keep their options open.
Paper-clipping is inspired by Brooklyn-based artist Samantha Rothenberg who used a cheeky illustration of Clippy (the Microsoft Word computer pop up assistant from the ‘90s) in an Instagram post to describe an ex who will not disappear after a breakup. This type of person wants to make sure that you do not forget them — popping up when you least expect it.
Pocketing is when your partner does not want you around their friends and family and they are particularly careful about not posting pictures of you two together on social media. Sorry to break it to you, but these emotionally unavailable people compartmentalize you from the rest of their personal life because they do not see a future with you. The silver lining is that it is easy to spot a pocketer: If they continually do not involve you on important occasions like birthdays or special celebrations where family and friends will be gathering, it is time to move on.
R-bombing is when you see confirmation that someone has read your text message, but they decided it is not worth responding to you. “Of course, this is bound to happen on occasion when people are busy, but if you’re noticing it happening frequently, you’re being R-bombed,” says Herring. “If they really liked you, they wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from responding right away. And if they were truly too busy, they wouldn’t have read the message at all. People generally R-bomb because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by letting them down directly. Instead of telling the truth — that they don’t see your relationship going anywhere — they read and ignore.”
Scrooging, which was first coined by eHarmony, is the act of dumping someone before the holidays in order to avoid having to buy them a gift. It is a sad excuse for commitment-phobes, as there are plenty of free or budget-friendly ways to show you care. Ever heard of a card?
Stashing takes pocketing a step further by not introducing you to family or friends for the purpose of dating other people behind your back.
Trickle ghosting, which entered the dating lexicon thanks to this viral Reddit post, is when someone suddenly slows down communication to a “trickle” — only getting back to you every few days. It is similar to curving, but trickle ghosting usually refers to people who have been in long-term relationships.
You-turning occurs when someone is in a relationship that seems to be going well but decides to abruptly end it. Perhaps they discovered a new pet peeve, or they met someone new. Whatever the scenario, a You-turner wastes no time in ending the relationship and likely won’t give you the real reason why.
Like ghosting, this individual completely ignores you out of the blue, but then suddenly rises from the dead by reaching out with a text (“Hey, how’s it going?”). This person is often someone from the way in the past who wants to randomly rekindle a relationship. Hey, we guess you never know if that summer fling from high school could work out.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.