Gen Z Love Dictionary: Translating the World of Dating Slang

In the ever-evolving landscape of dating and relationships, each generation brings its unique language and customs. Gen Z, the cohort born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s, has developed a distinct dating lingo that reflects their digital-native upbringing, open-minded approach to relationships, and desire for authenticity. In this guide, we'll delve into the world of Gen Z dating lingo, helping you decode the terms and phrases that are shaping modern romance.


Ghosting is a dating term that has become mainstream in recent years, but it remains relevant, especially among Gen Z. It refers to the act of abruptly cutting off all communication with someone you were dating or talking to, usually without explanation or warning.

Essentially, one person disappears from the other's life as if they were a ghost.


Breadcrumbing is a form of emotional manipulation where someone sends occasional, flirtatious, or ambiguous messages to keep another person interested without any intention of pursuing a real relationship.

It's like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to string someone along.

DTR (Define the Relationship)

Gen Z values clarity and open communication in relationships. DTR stands for "Define the Relationship," and it refers to the conversation two people have when they want to clarify and define the nature of their relationship.

It can be used to determine if they are exclusively dating, in a committed relationship, or just casually seeing each other.


"Shipping" is short for "relationship," and it's often used when someone expresses support or approval for a romantic pairing or a potential couple.

For example, if two people seem compatible, someone might say, "I ship them!"

Sliding into DMs

With the rise of social media, direct messaging (DM) has become a common way to initiate contact with someone you're interested in. "Sliding into someone's DMs" means sending them a direct message with the intention of starting a conversation or expressing romantic interest.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

FOMO isn't exclusive to dating, but it plays a significant role in Gen Z's approach to relationships. This term refers to the fear or anxiety that one might be missing out on something better, whether it's a social event, a dating opportunity, or a different relationship.

FOMO can lead to people constantly seeking new experiences or partners instead of committing to one.

RO (Relationship Official)

Going "RO" means that a couple has made their relationship official or public. This often involves announcing the relationship on social media or telling friends and family.

Gen Z tends to place importance on making their relationships RO.

Thirst Trap

A "thirst trap" is a post on social media, particularly on platforms like Instagram, designed to attract attention, compliments, or romantic interest.

It's typically a flattering or suggestive photo that encourages people to "thirst" for the poster's attention.


Curving is a rejection tactic where someone responds to a romantic interest with vague or evasive answers. They don't outright reject the person but keep them at a distance.

It's a less direct way of showing disinterest.


Submarining is a term used to describe someone who resurfaces in your life after ghosting you. They suddenly reappear, often acting as if nothing happened, and attempt to pick up where things left off.


Benching refers to the act of keeping someone on the "bench," or as a backup option while exploring other romantic interests. It's a form of emotional stringing along where someone isn't fully committed to a relationship but doesn't want to lose the person as an option either.

Slow Fade

A slow fade is a gradual and passive way of ending a relationship or connection. Instead of abruptly cutting off communication, one person becomes less responsive and involved over time, eventually leading to a natural drift apart.


The term "Zoomlander" is a play on the movie "Zoolander" and refers to someone who looks great on video calls or Zoom but may not be as attractive in real life.

It highlights the difference between a person's curated online appearance and their real-world presence.

ROMO (Read-Only Mode)

Going into "Read-Only Mode" means temporarily taking a break from dating or romantic pursuits. It's a way for someone to focus on self-care, personal growth, or other priorities without the distractions of dating.

Cuffing Season

Cuffing season is the period, usually in the colder months, when people are more inclined to seek out committed relationships or "cuff" themselves to a partner to have someone to spend the cozy, winter months with.

LDR (Long-Distance Relationship)

While not exclusive to Gen Z, long-distance relationships have become more common due to increased connectivity. LDR refers to a romantic relationship where the partners live in different geographic locations and often rely on technology for communication.


"Snack" is a term used to describe someone who is highly attractive or good-looking. It's a way of expressing physical attraction.

Vibe Check

A "vibe check" is a way to assess the chemistry or compatibility between two people. It can refer to the moment when you determine if you and your date have a good "vibe" together.

Love Bombing

Love bombing is a tactic used by some individuals to overwhelm their romantic interest with affection, compliments, and gifts at the beginning of a relationship.

However, it can be manipulative and insincere, often leading to unhealthy dynamics.


Polyamory is a relationship style that involves consensually having multiple romantic and/or sexual partners simultaneously. Gen Z has shown increased interest in exploring alternative relationship structures like polyamory.


Gen Z's dating lingo reflects a generation that values communication, authenticity, and individuality. While the world of modern romance can be complex and challenging, understanding these terms can help navigate the ever-evolving landscape of dating. Whether you're a Gen Z'er yourself or just trying to keep up with the times, embracing these terms can enhance your understanding of contemporary relationships and communication in the digital age.