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Seven dating terms you need to know right now

If any of these descriptions sound familiar, get out while you still can.

Written by
Alexa Harrison

With the advent of what feels like an (almost) normal summer, people are returning to pre-pandemic routines and looking for some fun. That's also the case when it comes to dating. But even though dating has always been tough, technology—namely dating apps and social media—has complicated things. (This is probably not news to you.) Everything moves more quickly and the lexicon changes with each passing year. To keep up, Time Out asked dating and relationship expert Diana Mandell what signs to look out for and terms we should absolutely have in our toolbelt for 2022. Her advice? “If you receive any indication that someone you're dating is showing signs of any of these behaviors, cut off all communication and move on.” 

1. Benching 

“Benching is a term used to describe someone who is Plan B or C,” says Mandell. “You are kept around on the sidelines if someone feels like it. I describe this as a ‘toy on a shelf.’ When someone feels like engaging with you, they take you off the shelf and when they're done, they put you back and ignore you until they feel like engaging with you again.”

2. Breadcrumbing 

Mandell explains, “Breadcrumbing is the emotionally manipulative act of giving just enough attention, time, energy and affection to someone with the intention of keeping them around as long as possible with as little effort as possible. Most people who engage in breadcrumbing are emotionally unavailable and choose not to commit to long-term relationships.” This takes the form of avoiding quality time (don’t mistake hook-ups for quality time) and all talk of the future while still giving enough digital attention to keep you hanging on.

3. Eclipsing

Sometimes dipping a toe into your date’s interests is just getting outside of one’s comfort zone or an attempt to get closer to another person. But if you completely lose your identity in a date’s interests or adopt their personality traits, you might be “eclipsing” and ignoring your own passions. 

4. Love bombing

If a date or new partner is coming on a little too strongly—think overly affectionate, showering with gifts, saturating you with compliments—pay attention. “The person giving the affection is often manipulative with the goal of creating dependency. This gives the manipulator a large ego boost as they gain power and control over the person they're love bombing,” Mandell warns. “The love bombing behavior could stop for several reasons: the manipulator gets bored, believes the receiver is starting to wise up and/or gets distracted with a new target.” 

5. Pocketing 

Ever get the sense that the person you’re dating seems embarrassed of you and is making a concerted effort not to introduce you to family or friends? This maneuver is called pocketing. If you’ve been dating for a while and you’re nowhere to be found on their social media, meeting in discrete locations, they’re making excuses as to why you don’t have group activities and the sharing of your lives is one-sided, it may be time to move on. 

6. Orbiting 

According to Mandell, “Orbiting is a newer term that describes the behavior of someone showing interest in you on social media by liking your posts, engaging in your updates, possibly reaching out to you and flirting with you yet they essentially turn into a pen pal of sorts having no intention of meeting and potentially starting a relationship with you. They are dangling a carrot in front of you by giving you some sporadic attention, but nothing substantive.” 


7. Zombeing 

Zombeing is an update on ghosting: when someone who previously ghosted returns from the dead. “Often you're given no explanation, they simply pretend as though the ghosting never happened, there is zero accountability or explanation. This is a huge red flag and someone to definitely stay away from,” says dating expert Mandell. “They have shown you that they don't value or respect you and the probability of them ghosting you again is quite high.”

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