New to the world of online dating? We reveal the dating jargon you need to know

Do you know your ‘kitten fishing’ from your ‘cookie jarring’?

With more and more people turning to online dating in the wake of the digital era, the number of online dating apps, too, is growing. 

From the early days of Dating Direct, to the monopoly of apps such as Hinge, Tinder and Bumble today, Brits are welcoming the world of modern dating with open arms (… or should that be swipes?!).

According to research by Statista, in 2020, there are 3.11 million widows in the UK – many of whom are finding their feet in the dating world for the first time in years and just don’t know where to start. 

Whether newly widowed, out of the loop and now ready to get back into dating, or haven’t dared venture into the online dating world, there’s many things to consider. Which profile picture should you choose? What hobbies to list? And, most importantly, what’s your opening line?!

But there’s also another thing to contend with; dating jargon. 

What’s ghosting? What’s a situationship? And what the hell is kitten fishing?!


I’m Nicky Wake, founder of Chapter 2. I lost my husband Andy in 2020. We were early adopters of the online dating scene having met on Dating Direct back in 2002 where we bonded over a mutual love of art and music. 

I was widowed at age 51, and when I finally decided to get back into the online dating world I noticed that much had changed. Suddenly, I was being bombarded with unfamiliar terms that I found myself Googling every few minutes, and the pace of the conversations wasn’t something I was used to. 

It can be daunting getting back into dating, especially as an older person, or someone who has lost a spouse. And it makes it all the more difficult to persevere with a dating app when the whole experience seems somewhat overwhelming and alien.


If you’re navigating the dating world and want to brush up on your dating lingo, here are some of the terms and top dating jargon you’ll need to know for 2024:

Beige Flags

Indicates that a person may simply struggle to describe themselves in a profile. Or, it could mean that the person is boring online and in real life.


Refers to the disrespectful action of keeping someone stuck on the sidelines waiting for you.


Keeping barely enough contact to keep someone hanging on.

Cuffing Season

Refers to the period of time (usually the colder months of the year) where single people pair up to avoid feeling lonely on special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve.


Refers to staying in touch with one or more people so you have backup possibilities if your current relationship ends (AKA cookie jarring).

DTR Conversation

‘Define the relationship’ – refers to the moment in a relationship where you discuss exactly what you are as a couple.


Liking all new hobbies, passions, and interests that happen to match exactly what your new partner loves.


A partner only seems to want a relationship when the weather is mild (opposite of cuffing).


When a partner completely and suddenly stops communicating with you for no apparent reason.

Kitten Fishing

Misrepresenting yourself in an online portfolio with tiny inaccuracies. 


Luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona or imagery


Secrecy, emotional affairs, and heavy flirting. 

This type of cheating doesn’t cross physical boundaries but would still hurt your partner if they knew.


Going on a date only for your partner to stare at their phone the entire time.


Refers to a person who keeps a relationship secret by failing to announce their partner to their family, friends, or loved ones.

Slow Fade

Refers to a person who slowly begins to be less connected and increasingly unavailable in a relationship.


Similar to pocketing, stashing refers to a person who refuses to introduce their romantic partner to anyone in their lives and does not mention the relationship anywhere on social media.


Refers to two people who have a good connection and chemistry in texts and messages that does not translate to real life.


A deceitful act where a person pretends to be something they’re not, usually in a way that makes them seem more open-minded than they are.


When a former partner, or love interest, who ghosted you comes back into your life and tries to pretend as if nothing happened.

Hidden Meaning of Emojis

Dating jargon is one thing but new daters also need to know their emojis – sending the wrong one, or interpreting the wrong meaning could lead to a number of faux pas.

Emojis are now commonplace in online dating and a study published in PLOS One found that people who frequently used emojis engaged in more sexual activity, tended to date more frequently and have longer contact with their dates. 

So do you know your peaches from your aubergines? We’ve created the must have cheat sheet for the emojis you need to know for success in the online dating world.

Armed with the perfect blend of jargon and a newfound emoji expertise, it’s now time to dive into the world of playful banter and charming connections. Remember, flirting is an art, not a science, so embrace the spontaneity and let your personality shine through. Whether it’s a witty comment or a well-placed smiley face, enjoy the dance of online communication. 

So go ahead, put your newfound skills to the test, and may your conversations be filled with laughter, excitement, and maybe even a touch of romance. Happy flirting!


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