Dating terminology and behaviours

New dating terminology springs up all the time. Like slang, new words are constantly used to describe dating situations and behaviours, such as pre-dating. These behaviours have been around for ages, but we’re always describing them with new phrases. Here are a few other dating behaviours and terminology:

Bird eating breadcrumb on fence


Generally known as leading someone on, breadcrumbing is when you flirt and message someone constantly but don’t make a commitment to them. You’re giving them a taste of what it would be like to date you, but you never ask them out. Instead, you lead them down a trail of disappointment with breadcrumbs.

You need to keep an eye out for the signs of breadcrumbing; flirty messages, promises to take you out and wanting to meet you at later stages. There’s no intention to enter a relationship with you, and breadcrumbers are quick to tell you that you’re reading into things.

Breadcrumbing can be cruel as you’re never given the opportunity to completely cut ties and move on as you’re led to believe that these interactions could be going somewhere. As soon as you find another person, the breadcrumber will try to flirt with you and make you feel special once again.


Also called ‘backburnering’, cushioning is when you talk (more like flirt) with someone else despite being in a steady relationship or marriage. Some might call this cheating, others might call it keeping your options open in case things don’t work out with your current significant other.

Cushioning is a plan B – it saves you from heartbreak and makes the rebound quicker. But it can also be the cause of heartbreak. If your partner finds out you’re chatting to potential suitors behind their back, the chances of ending the relationship then and there are quite high.

Ghostly smoke silhouette


Like breadcrumbing, ghosting can be heartbreaking. This is when someone ignores your messages, phone calls and flat out ignores you without telling you why. It’s often used as a coward’s way to break up with a short-term fling.

Most often, ghosting occurs after you’ve met someone (either on Tinder or in person) and you have one or two meetings with them. Then, out of the blue, they stop contacting you and ignore your attempts at reigniting the spark.


This behaviour has been around for a while, but the name haunting is a new, apt way of describing it. It’s basically online stalking of an ex. When you keep tabs on your ex via social media, whether subtly or not-so-subtly, you’re haunting them.

The subtle ways of haunting are obvious – lurking their feeds and just keeping an eye on them without making your presence known. The not-so-subtle methods involve liking their recent posts, watching their Instagram Stories (they get notified every time you do) and checking their Snapchat sessions.

Satellite orbiting earth


Like a minor form of breadcrumbing, orbiting can be harmless. This is when you like someone’s posts on social media and watch their Stories because you’re curious about them, but you don’t actually want to date them.

You may have even been on one or two dates with them before, but decided that it wasn’t for you. Often, orbiting arises when you don’t want to be rude or cold, so you keep up with them on social media to ‘keep the peace’.

The liking and commenting aren’t hurting anyone and it can be a way to say “no harm done, you’re still cool”. However, it can also come across as creepy or the person could read into the situation and think that you’re still keen.


This behaviour has also been around since the dawn of cell phone technology. Pre-dating is the ‘just talking’ phase of getting to know someone – before dating them. It involves WhatsApp messages, social media direct messages (DMs) and sometimes even emails.

It often involves funny and flirty messages with the intention of getting the receiver to like you. Pre-dating can be a fun stage of the process of getting to know someone better, and it often comes with a lot of excitement. Just make sure you’re not being breadcrumbed.


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