Life

A comprehensive guide to every millennial dating trend

Posted by
Megan Murray
Published

As Badoo announces a new tool to curb ghosting, take a look below at our comprehensive dating dictionary. 

Back in the good old days of our grandparent’s era, things seemed pretty simple. If you had the hots for someone, you simply had to actually talk to them and arrange to go on a date where you could, y’know, get to know each other and decide if you had that illusive spark.

These days, things are… not so simple. Frankly speaking, it’s a bloody minefield.

Thanks to apps and social media, our means of communicating with each other have changed and therefore so have our dating methods.

Apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Happn have undoubtedly spawned a new species of dating trends, most of which we could really do without. 

Getting to know someone on a real life date, remember that concept? 

But although there’s no denying that being ghosted, marleyed or submarined feels a tad depressing, we’re choosing to roll with the punches here, naming and shaming these dating trends for what they are so that you can spot them a mile off and say a big ‘no thank you’.

Has that hunk or hunkess you went on a few nice dates with stopped replying, but is continuings to like your pictures or watch your stories, driving you up the wall? Or what about the non-committal dater who keeps you sweet with emoji filled messages but never puts their money where their mouth is?

Well, let us tell you, you’re not alone and, chances are, the behaviour that’s got you completely baffled has a name. Take a read of our comprehensive dating dictionary and you might just recognise some of this behaviour in your date - or even in yourself. 

Scrooged

We all remember the mean old man in A Christmas Carol, whose clenched fist deprived him from all the joy of the festive season. Well, this dating trend is a bit like that, but instead of receiving visits from ghosts of Christmas past,  you’re more likely to just be ghosted. 

 According to research by eharmony, almost one in 10 people have avoided getting too serious with a partner just before Christmas so that they don’t have to buy them a present - with men aged 18-24 being the worst offenders. According to the survey, 11% of men (versus 7%) of women will start to retreat in the weeks before Christmas, before breaking off the relationship in time for the big day. Not exactly a picture of seasonal cheer is it?

Rachael Lloyd, relationship expert at eharmony, says: “We know that relationships can often become less of a priority in the run up to Christmas. It’s also a time when dating significantly slows down. In fact, a quarter (24%) of Brits agree that it’s a time to prioritise family and friends above romance.

“However, it seems particularly miserly to end a relationship simply to avoid buying your partner a present and indicates that you weren’t ready for a romantic commitment in the first place. There’s no excuse for this type of behaviour. There are a huge number of purse-friendly presents on offer, which some of these ‘Scrooges’ might consider before pulling the plug.”

Ghosting

Ah, the mother of all millennial dating trends. It’s a tale as old as time really. What was probably once referred to as ‘the silent treatment’ has been renamed ‘ghosting’ to reference the complete and utter disappearance of a potential love interest from your life, with zero warning, almost as if they’d died.

It can come at any stage, from a few dates in to the spectacularly terrible story of a woman who came home to an empty house after her boyfriend upped and left without any communication.

That’s a severe example, but ghosting is usually done by one person very suddenly ceasing communication with the other over texts, by point blank ignoring them. At this point the one being ghosted will likely not hear from the ghoster again in the near future, which leads us nicely into the other dating trends…

Zombied

Sometimes, after things go south with the person you’re dating, it’s like they have a twisted alarm that goes off in their head just as you’re starting to get over them and the ill-fated interaction you shared.

It could be a breezy text, pretending not to have noticed that the two of you stopped talking in the first place, or maybe it’s a not-so-casual Facebook friend request or the like. Essentially, it’s a nudge to say “hey, remember me?” just like a zombie, returning from the dating dead.

Speaking to the Washington Post about the phenomenon, dating coach Francesca Hogi explains: “As our technology advances and it becomes easier to contact people out of the blue, we see it more often.

“All these very casual ways of reaching out and contacting people, I think it gives [people] permission to say: ‘Hey, the risk is very low. She’s not going to curse me out on the phone and hurt my feelings.

“She’s just going to ignore my text message.”

So, should we ignore the Zombie – aka the flake who’s eager to reconnect?

Not according to Hogi, who argues that we should be less cynical: sometimes people really do miss connections, make mistakes, or dismiss people too quickly.

Addressing the potential zombies among us, she says: “If you are thinking of someone you lost contact with or might have ghosted, you should reach out to that person if you have any regret or curiosity but acknowledge the passage of time and your responsibility for it.”

And, perhaps most importantly, she adds: “Just do it respectfully and like a grownup .”

Thanks to apps and social media, our means of communicating with each other have changed and therefore so have our dating methods.

Benching

Although it’s great to have an abundance of hungry singles at your fingertips when you’re ready to meet someone, having so much choice does create a certain type of problem. With another match just a swipe away, connections can start to lose meaning and feel easily replaceable.

Enter the term benching, which refers to the behaviour of someone who’s still on the lookout in case someone ‘better’ comes along. Stringing you along, a bencher will keep you sweet with pleasant replies but stagger out dates or interactions over a course of weeks so as to slow down momentum.

In a nutshell, if you get the sense that you’re a back-up for somebody because of their non-committal behaviour, there’s a chance they could be leaving you on the bench, ready to tag in when they have time.

Orbiting

Ever had an old flame slide into your social media, pique your intrigue with a series of non-committal likes or Instagram story-views, only to never actually talk to you? Then you’ve been orbited.

The term comes off the back of ghosting, and describes the social media attention-seeking of someone who might have abruptly stopped replying to your messages, but continues to sporadically like your pictures, retweet your tweets or watch your stories.

We spoke to We-Vibe’s Relationship Expert, Dr Becky Spelman, to get heropinion on why someone might exhibit this sort of confusing behaviour.

Surmising on some of the possible thought processes behind orbiting, Spelman says: “There may be various factors at play. They may feel that they are letting the other person down more gently if they maintain a degree of contact in this way and think that they are being kinder than if they simply cut them off completely.

“They may feel that they are keeping their options option by showing this sliver of interest, and that if the dating scene gets lean at some point in the future they might be able to pick the relationship back up again. They might be going through photographs in the hope of having their ego boosted when they see signs of distress or upset on the part of the other person, or simply take a voyeuristic pleasure in peering into these windows on their life.

“Thankfully, there is actually no need to question or explore this behaviour in detail, because we can respond to the discourtesy of ghosting by decisively removing the person in question from our online community of friends and blocking future invitations from them!”

With another match just a swipe away, connections can start to lose meaning and feel easily replaceable.

Marleying

This dating trend specifically applies to the festive period, a time universally acknowledged as one for cuddling up and snuggling down.

When Christmas rolls around and the engagement posts start flooding your Instagram feed, it can make some of us suddenly wish we had someone to kiss under the mistletoe. Combine this with copious amounts of mulled wine and being back in your home town for the week, and you’re met with a recipe for an ex-disaster.

Coined by dating website eHarmony, “Marleying” refers to people who contact their ex over Christmas in the hopes of rekindling their romance for a fling – or more.

Speaking about the new trend, dating expert Laura Yates pinpoints Christmas as being “synonymous with memories, romance, couples and goodwill”, which can “trigger potent feelings of sadness, especially if you’ve recently gone through a breakup”.

Explaining why so many people reach out to an ex over the festive period, she adds, “You might compare this year to happier, coupled-up times with your ex, overlooking what happened in the first place to cause the breakup. In turn, this makes you feel vulnerable and there’s a strong desire to want to relive some of those times - even if it means settling for a few text exchanges.”

Stashing

We’ll set the scene for you: you’ve been talking to someone online and progressed to real life dates. Things are going pretty well. They’ve met your family, friends and even some of your work colleagues – and everyone’s gotten along just fine.

But you’ve not been introduced to a single person from their life. Not one.

The confusing part is they’ll share a snap of the dinner you guys shared on Instagram – but they won’t tag you in it. They’ll take to Facebook and check themselves into that cool, new bar you guys are hanging out in – but you’re not ‘with’ them. And they’ll phone their best friend to talk about their day – but your name is never mentioned.

If any of that sounds remotely familiar, then we have news for you: you’re being stashed. Stashed in a cupboard to take out for the good times, but not as a consistent part of their life.

This is a classic move of a commitment-phobe, and the optimistic among us could argue that as time progresses they’ll introduce you to other aspects of their life.

Images: Getty / JD Mason 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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