Dating advice: the trends you need to know for 2020

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Jessica Rapana
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As we enter a new decade, it looks like online dating isn’t going anywhere. It pays to be prepared with this handy guide.

Modern dating can feel a lot like navigating a minefield.

Gone are the good old days when your sole focus was on finding someone you actually like (no easy feat in itself). 

Nowadays, you also need to watch out for fleabagging, dogfishing and caspering, to name a few. There’s even different shades of ghosting to worry about: soft and hard.

The bad news is this treacherous new landscape probably isn’t going anywhere: statistics predict more than half of couples will meet online by 2031, and most babies born in 2037 will be “e-babies”, aka babies whose parents hooked up on the internet.

However, there is good news: you can be prepared by arming yourself with the dating terms you’ll need to know for 2020 and beyond.


We have a feeling you’ll know this one, as the vile qualities of a Jekyll and Hyde-type character, as nicknamed here, have been around in the dating world long before the apps. Have you ever been approached by a man, online or in real life, and thought he’s initially keen to shower you with compliments and flattery in the quest to get your attention, but as soon as you (however politely) reject his advances he turns nasty – very nasty? 

Jameela Jamil does. In fact, she previously tweeted about how, after thanking a man for his offer of his number but explaining she had a boyfriend, he shouted at her, calling her “low class” and threatening her career. Well, now we have a name for this abhorrent behaviour, and it’s Jekylling. 

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The cousin of ghosting, this Frozen inspired trend is when someone you’re speaking to online suddenly goes quiet and freezes you out, with no explanation. Suddenly, their responses get shorter, snappier and whole lot frostier, before eventually saying nothing at all. If you’ve been Elsa’d, the only thing to do is let it go, and move on. 

Deja Eeew

This is a good one. Picture the scene: you’re flicking through your chosen dating app and you come across the profile of someone you’ve already spoken to, or have even been on a date with. It did not go well. That feeling, friends, is called ‘deja eew’. You know, a bit like deja vu, but worse. 


It’s an infamous plot line in the much-loved TV show Friends, the one where Ross and Rachel have an argument and he heads out to a bar, only to end up sleeping with a woman who – you guessed it – isn’t Rachel. Of course, Rachel is furious, with Ross’ only comeback being “we were on a break”. 

With internet dating, it can sometimes be tricky to know if the other person is still seeing other people and using the app after you’ve met. Rossing is when you’re dating someone but not officially a couple, and they go off with someone else because of a lack of communication around the exclusivity of your relationship. 

Have you been Elsa'd?


Keanu Reeves has made many headlines this year thanks to appearing in great films like Always Be My Maybe alongside Ali Wong and receiving online praise for his respectful approach to his female co-stars. But potentially the biggest column inches taken up by Reeves in the last 12 months concerned his relationship.

When Reeves and Alexandra Grant walked the red carpet back in November 2019 the internet was whipped into a literal frenzy over Grant’s resemblance to Helen Mirren, with many claiming that the couple didn’t look particularly suited. It looks like these disappointing comments about Reeves and Grant’s relationship have sparked a dating term, with Keanu-ing referring to two people you wouldn’t have imagined together. Sigh. 


Inspired by Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s iconic TV character, Fleabagging is essentially the act of dating those people we know are wrong for us. The term was coined by dating site Plenty of Fish, whose experts revealed that women are much more likely to ‘Fleabag’ than men. Indeed, according to the dating site, 63% of women have admitted to doing it, vs 38% of men.


Like a phone that won’t connect, “dial-toning” is the term used to describe when someone gives you their number, only to never reply to your message after you text them. Like ghosting, except you never get through the first time. A 90s name for a modern problem.

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Dial-toning is when you never get a reply


Nearly half of singles have experienced this phenomenon: when an ex gets back in touch after you’ve split to ask a favour, usually something charity-related. If you’ve ever got the “Hey, I’m doing X, could you donate/come along?”, you, my friend, have been cause-played.


Have you ever been dating someone who suddenly takes up the same interests as you? It might start with them ‘tagging along’ to your Sunday yoga class. Next minute: they’ve bought an unlimited membership. Eclipsing is effectively when someone starts adopting the same hobbies as they person they’re dating. 


If you’ve ever got dolled up for a hot date only to be bailed on – or worse, ghosted – at the twelfth hour, not only have you been bamboozled, you’ve also been glamboozled. Sadly, more than half of daters have experienced this. What a waste of time and product. 

A woman does her make-up and checks her computer

You can never get that foundation back

Yellow carding

Not necessarily a bad thing, this is when you call someone out on their bad dating behaviour. If they glamboozle you, for instance.


If your partner’s ex keeps reaching out to you, you might be a victim of exoskeleton-ing. More than a fifth of singles have been through this via social media or otherwise. 


Obsessed with Myers-Briggs and love languages? Well, you might be guilty of typecasting: exclusively dating people based on compatibility. No Capricorns, et cetera. 

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The first part of a relationship tends to be the most exciting. You can’t get enough of them. When you’re not with them, you’re wishing you were. It’s not called the honeymoon period for nothing. A flashpanner loves this warm, fuzzy feeling too. So much that they tend to jump ship after this part is over. Not cool.


If you’re a one-foot-in-one-foot-out kind of dating app user, this might be you. Obligaswiping describes when you endlessly swipe without any real follow through. Sure, you might flirt a little, hang around for a chat but you have no real intention of meeting up, you just want to tell yourself you’re making the effort. 


Sure this is not new, per se, but it’s been doing the rounds for good reason. It’s like ghosting, only ‘friendly’. In other words, when you give someone the heads up that you’re about to ghost them.

Images: Getty


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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.