Decoding the New Dating Scene

Are you feeling a little in the dark about the new vocabulary developing around dating? It’s not surprising, especially when you hear a term like getting “ghosted.”

Luckily, you’re just a few dating slang definitions away from having a better understanding of this vocabulary — often used on social media. It’s important to understand, especially if you have young people in your life who are dating.

Here are a few popular slang terms and their definitions, plus conversation-starter ideas for when you encounter them:

  • Breadcrumbing
    Also known as stringing someone along. When someone offers just enough attention to another person to maintain hope there will be a relationship someday. Some examples include sending occasional texts and in-person flirting.Conversation starter: Breadcrumbing can happen before a relationship begins, although sometimes a concrete relationship never forms. This could just be flirting, but there may also be a more serious reason a relationship isn’t starting. Ask your teen how they’re feeling about the person they like, and if there are issues around starting a relationship with them.
  • Instagrandstanding
    Creating Instagram posts meant to capture the attention of a specific person. This includes posting photos from certain locations the person has a history of visiting, and providing references to music, food or clothing the person is known to favor.
    Conversation starter: Has your child started exclusively posting on Instagram about South America after their new classmate just moved from Ecuador? Sounds like they’re Instagrandstanding. Ask them about their interest in the classmate.
  • Love bombing
    Communicating strong affection for someone at an early stage in a relationship. This is often considered a dating faux pas, and may be a manipulation tactic. For instance, going on a first date with someone and then confessing a desire to marry them the next day.Conversation starter: If your teen is dealing with love bombing fallout, talk to them about their actions and how it affected their relationship. This would be a good time to discuss appropriate levels of showing affection and why it’s sometimes challenging to manage. Discuss how love bombing can also be used to negatively control a relationship.
  • Ghosting
    Stopping all communication for no apparent reason or explanation. This means no more calls, texts, emails, social media messaging or in-person meetings. If someone ghosts you, they will not respond to any of your attempts to communicate with them, and will sometimes actively block you on social apps.
    Conversation starter: Ghosting can feel especially harsh to someone who didn’t suspect there was a problem with a relationship. If your teen has been ghosted, ask them how they are feeling and let them know there may not be a logical reason it happened. If you find out your child has ghosted someone, ask them why. Talk to them about better ways to handle ending a difficult relationship.
  • Catfishing
    Creating a totally bogus identity online and using it to manipulate someone to provide money or other favors. Catfishing is deceptive, as well as dangerous and illegal when used to steal identities. It can be a form of digital bullying. In the dating world, someone might catfish to hide their identity out of shame or embarrassment regarding their physical appearance, social status, age, gender or other traits.
    Conversation starter: If someone has been catfished, get details about whom they thought they were talking to and what kind of information they shared. If you find someone is catfishing others, tell them to stop immediately. It is wrong and may need to be reported to the victim and the proper authorities.


Use these conversation starters to start a meaningful dialogue and ultimately promote trust and open conversations with your kids.