The road to love is not one so easily traversed in 2023.
With much of it taking place online and seemingly new nasty trends to look out for every other week, dating is a minefield fraught with learnings we could’ve done without. Sure, there’s plenty of fun to be had, and you don’t get anywhere by not putting yourself out there. But if you ask us, it can feel like a game of chess we didn’t even know we pulled up a chair for.
While dating advice can seem inconsequential in 2023, what we can offer is a no-nonsense glossary of the key red flags and trends to look out for when playing the field.
From ‘cuffing seasons’ to the more ominous phenomena of ‘orbiting’ and ‘love bombing’, the trials and tribulations of modern romance don’t have to be such a mystery—even if you’re still trying to work out the apps. To make things a little less confusing on your journey, we’ve put together a simple guide to the modern dating terms worth having on your radar.
Behold, the modern dictionary of unfortunate dating trends one can expect in 2023.
Modern Dating Terms 2023
We’re all familiar with ghosting as a concept, but what about when these suitors try to rear their ugly heads again? In this case, you have a Zombie on your hands. And just like the kind in horror films, you should stay far away.
Dating really can feel like sports, and just as players sometimes get benched from the game, so too do people. This has become the umbrella term for when someone doesn’t want to commit to dating someone but may enjoy having someone on the hook to have fun with from time to time. While this could be unintentional or even consensual, getting benched against your wishes is never a fun feeling, especially when you’re being breadcrumbed (read below) into sticking around.
Who would have thought that the fabled tales of Hansel & Gretel would reach our DMs? This nasty phenomenon occurs when someone you like gives you very little but just enough to keep your interest/hopes up. What does this look like? Think of someone dropping a simple ‘Hey ‘ every couple of months or ‘I saw X and it reminded me of you’ just to land themselves back on your radar. If you ask us, it rarely goes any further than a digital ego-boost and this is when ghosting isn’t so bad.
Think of this as benching in reverse. If you’ve been seeing someone only to find out that they’ve been seeing others behind your back, you may well be getting ‘cookie-jarred’. Even if you yourself are doing the same, it’s always good to get on the same page.
A reference to the classic Tom Hanks film Groundhog Day, ‘groundhogging’ refers to the mistake of going for the same king of ‘wrong’ person over and over, expecting to yield different results. See also: the definition of crazy. While there’s no shame in having a ‘type’, it’s important to self-reflect on what is and isn’t serving you in order to break the cycle.
Unlike ghosting, which involves an abrupt end to communication, fizzling is when someone aims to gradually drip-feed the message that they’re just not that into you by slowly being less engaged and unresponsive. While it may sound kinder than ghosting, it can feel pretty awful—especially since it’s actually not very subtle.
A play on the term ‘catfishing’ where one poses as someone else online, ‘wokefishing’, as coined by VICE writer Serena Smith, describes the act of portraying your political beliefs to be more progressive than they actually are in the hopes of reeling in a catch.
Identified by The New York Times, this confusing phenomenon of the digital age involves a person following you, reacting to your Stories, maybe even hitting up your DMs with inconsequential banter, but never actually proposing any interaction outside of social media. Why? We couldn’t tell you.
This one is easier to identify in other people than ourselves—we’re all a touch guilty—but ‘eclipsing’ is when a person overhauls their own interests and personality to align better with those of their romantic interest. While taking on new challenges, meeting new people and generally getting out of your comfort zone is great, it’s important to keep some perspective on who you’re doing it all for.
Since the dawn of time, humans have cuffed and been cuffed. Maybe not, but it sure seems like it. If you’re not already aware, ‘cuffing’, or refers to the fevered act of trying to lock down a romantic partner or the winter—a time when staying in and cuddling up on the couch takes precedence over going out and dating. Think of it like dating hibernation; only these couples aren’t always super serious about each other and are generally ready to rid themselves of the cuffs once summer returns.
If you’re dating someone, but they seem reluctant to introduce you to their friends and/or family, you may have found yourself being ‘pocketed’. While people can have their reasons from keeping their partner separated from the rest of their lives, it doesn’t set the healthiest tone for a relationship. Usually, it stems from where all great dating dilemmas do: intimacy issues.
Often mistaken for the ‘honeymoon period’, where one might find themselves showered with affection, grand gestures and even grander gifts, ‘love bombing’ is the process of someone bombarding you with love. Only, it’s more of an unhealthy idealism.
A tactic often employed by emotionally abusive people to lure in their partners, love bombing is based on romantic ideation, and those big feelings in the beginning that are founded on, well, not much, tend to dissipate as quickly as they formed. Things can go downhill from there.
Love bombing doesn’t just happen in romantic relationships, and while some offenders are just harmless hyper-romantics who become consumed with the idea of love, it’s good to keep your wits about you and address it when you see it.
This article originally appeared on Grazia International.