Ugly Dating Definitions

Warning, this list will make you wonder why people date at all. There are countless words created only for people who are dating. And Yes, dating has its own dialogue. These definitions are helpful as they can happen to you if you put yourself out there in the dating world long enough. I intend for some of this to be scary. In no way is this an endorsement of the actions behind these words. Dating can be brutal, and it is helpful if we are using the same language.

This is my list of the most helpful words you need to know if you are new to dating. If you are not new, you already know them.


When someone intentionally or unintentionally keeps a connection going with little effort to make it meaningful or intend for a relationship outcome. Attempts to reach out are low effort, meaning that they can occur every few days or weeks and are usually a short message. Breadcrumbing usually happens when you are usually someone’s second choice, benched, or a shelf guy/gal.


Someone who is presenting false information to Lure someone into a dating situation is using this scam. This scam is most likely to happen if you use online dating apps that easily alter photos and profiles. However, this can happen when you meet someone in public (offline). For example, when you meet someone who says they won the lottery and are independently wealthy, rather than telling you they steal cars for a living. They present a manufactured and false image to date you.


Traditionally this is an innocent word that means two people who enjoy each other’s company and spend time together. However, this word must be verified with the user every time because it means something different to many people. Traditionally, I believe people, especially after a difficult breakup, feel like this is what they want. A companion, like someone to do things with, like events, dinner, or watch a game, is a friend. A Companion without strings. (FYI – Rarely are there zero strings.)

Cuffing Season

I still can’t believe this is a thing. It’s an entire season, usually beginning in the fall when single people couple up during the cold wintry months. They may enjoy your company, but this is short-term comfort in their minds.

Ethical non-monogamy or Consensual non-monogamy

A person or people who have open sexual relationships where the other people consent to all the others is ethical, to some people, because the partners approve or participate willingly. Polyamorous is one type of ethical non-monogamy; swingers are another. If you are into this rock on, if you are not, keep a wide berth. Just don’t try to convert someone.

Friends with Benefits (FWB)

People who care about each other and share common interests and talk about their lives and have sex. Nothing more.


It usually happens in romantic relationships and is a way of manipulation and is considered abuse. A person uses romance and attention to manipulate people into doing what they want. Love-bombing and gaslighting frequently go together. Often the person being gaslit feels like they are losing their sanity.


After dating someone and they disappear without any discussion. The other person will not respond to texts or calls, and you never hear from them again. You may even have a date planned, and they do not confirm or do not show up. There is no valid reason for ghosting. It’s rude and immature and yet expected. Sometimes ghosts try to reach out at random and then disappear again; that is called haunting.

Love Bomb

A person is love bombing you when they come on very strong and want to be with you and connect with you. They shower you with attention, maybe extravagant gifts, and want to know everything about you. At some point, this becomes a way for manipulation and gaslighting. Narcissists frequently lovebomb.

Netflix and Chill

If this invitation comes your way, know that there is no intention of watching the Television.

Pen Pal

A person who you never (or hardly ever) meet, but they message you frequently by text or on a dating app.

Shelf Guy/Gal

You are unsure whether you (or they) are interested in a relationship, or you are uncertain of your feelings. They could or could not work into a relationship. You date them occasionally. You keep someone on the metaphorical shelf until you want to pick them back up and date them more seriously. this could also be benching someone.


The relationship has not defined an intent or when you date someone and don’t know what you mean to each other. You appear to be a couple but are not. Spoken words about being in a relationship or having commitment are minimal, and seeing each other has been going long enough for you to say “it’s complicated.”

Slow Fade

The slow fade happens when a person creates an increasing distance from another person to make a break up easier. They don’t ask you out as often, message you less frequently, and so on. This is mean-spirited because it creates confusion in a relationship. Sometimes, however, slow fades happen naturally if you consider life events can change a person’s freedoms.


These terms are things I didn’t know when I started dating, and I wish I had a list. Commit to yourself that you will not do these things and not tolerate them from others. Please date responsibly.