As if dating wasn鈥檛 hard enough, now there are a million apps and a whole new vocabulary to memorize. The concepts of baes and benching aren鈥檛 new to love and relationships, but because of social media (and texting, and swiping, and emoji), now they鈥檙e camouflaged by strangely innocuous words that make dating culture even harder to navigate. Read on for the slang you need to know if you鈥檙e on a quest to find your OTP.

1. Bae: Bae refers to your girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, significant other, or object of desire 鈥 whether real, in progress, or aspirational. There are different stories of where bae originated from: Some claim it鈥檚 a shortened version of 鈥渂abe鈥 (because 鈥渂abe鈥 just wasn鈥檛 short enough), and others say it鈥檚 an acronym for 鈥渂efore anyone else.鈥 What is not questioned, however, is its rise in popularity. In 2014, it was an Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year runner up (the crown went to 鈥渧ape鈥), and it became the first meme of 2017 when a Turkish chef seasoned his meat in the most extra way, earning him internet fame as 鈥salt bae.鈥

2. Benching: Someone is benching if they鈥檙e keeping their dating options open, AKA leading you on. You may have gone on a great date together, but since then, they only text intermittently and primarily with emoji, make vague plans they never follow through on, or cancel on you at the last minute because of flimsy excuses like, 鈥淚 forgot I have a work thing.鈥 They鈥檙e double tapping on your 鈥榞rams to make sure you don鈥檛 forget about them, but you鈥檝e been benched like a second-string athlete waiting for someone else to get injured so you have a shot in the game. TL; DR: He鈥檚 just not that into you.

3. Breadcrumbing: Breadcrumbing is the lazy person鈥檚 version of benching. Every time mercury is in retrograde, a breadcrumber will re-emerge and slide into your DMs or text you a short message (鈥U up?鈥), teasing you with the fact that they鈥檙e still thinking about you but not making any effort whatsoever toward a real life date or relationship. Note to prospective partners: The only time breadcrumbs should be involved is if you鈥檙e wandering into the woods toward a house made of candy or about to make some fried chicken tenders for dinner. Otherwise, save your carbs for something worthwhile.

4. Conscious Uncoupling: When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced they were divorcing, they chose to describe it as a 鈥渃onscious uncoupling鈥 (the term was coined by a psychotherapist prior to that). It鈥檚 basically another way of saying two adults made an adult decision to do something adult. Which begs the question: Is there such thing as unconscious uncoupling? Did a couple ever sleep break up and then the next morning find all their shared social media photos deleted and think, well, 鈥淚 guess that鈥檚 that鈥?

5. Cuffing Season: Cuffing season refers to the fall and winter months when the weather outside is frightful and cuddling inside is delightful. Singles intentionally look to couple up during this period because it provides extra body heat and (hand)cuffing someone to you during the holidays means you don鈥檛 have to endure all those awkward family gatherings alone. It begins approximately when pumpkin spice starts its seasonal domination of all things food-related and ends when you dust off the crochet crop tops in preparation for festival season.

6. Cushioning: Cushioning is getting yourself some dating insurance. Even though you鈥檙e seeing someone, you鈥檙e also stringing along some backup boos (possibly the benchwarmers in #2) that can cushion your fall if your current relationship doesn鈥檛 work out. It鈥檚 essentially cheating by another name. It鈥檚 like if someone loses a chess game and then goes around telling everyone they got second place. Sorry, that鈥檚 not a thing; just admit you lost, and let鈥檚 all move on.

7. DM: DM, or direct message, is contacting someone via social media when you don鈥檛 have their phone number. It usually requires charm and smooth talking to slide into someone鈥檚 DMs without coming off as a total internet stalker, but it鈥檚 a way to chat up someone out of the blue while still getting a sense of who they are (by only slightly internet stalking them). Like Yo Gotti said, 鈥淚t goes down in the DM.鈥

8. Drafting Season: Drafting season is the counter to cuffing season. During the warm spring and summer months, everyone is brunching outdoors, single and mingling. It鈥檚 the perfect time for people to evaluate the pool of potential mates for someone they can bunker down with when cuffing season rolls around. Just like sports drafts, there are a lot of players involved, and it鈥檚 usually very confusing.

9. DTR: DTR, or Define the Relationship, is the conversation you have to address the elephant in the room during the early gray stage of a relationship 鈥 are you two鈥 dating? Is this an actual romantic relationship? No one likes having the 鈥渢alk,鈥 but it鈥檚 definitely better than that awkward moment when someone you thought you friendzoned changes their Facebook status to 鈥淚n a Relationship鈥濃 with you.

10. Friends With Benefits/No Strings Attached: Friends With Benefits (FWB) and No Strings Attached (NSA) are two sides of the same coin. FWB refers to platonic friends who mutually decide to hook up without crossing over the dating line. And NSA is when two people (friends or not) decide to get involved physically but without committing to anything more, like a relationship or those pesky things called feelings. FWB and NSA were also similarly themed movies that released the same year and starred Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as one couple and Mr. Mila Kunis (Ashton Kutcher) and Natalie Portman as the other. If you can鈥檛 remember who was in which movie, it doesn鈥檛 really matter. What matters is (spoiler alert): Both couples failed miserably at maintaining their titular pseudo-relationships and fell in love at the end. But don鈥檛 let that convince you that either of these is a good idea.

11. Ghosting: Ghosting is when you鈥檙e dating someone and it鈥檚 moving along quite nicely, and then all of a sudden, the other person cuts off all communication and completely vanishes from your life, both real and digital. It鈥檚 a way to break up with someone without having to tell them to their face, and it鈥檚 savage AF. Be an adult, and just don鈥檛.

12. Haunting: When someone who has ended things with you reappears every now and then to like or interact with your social accounts (e.g., watching your Snapchat story), you鈥檙e being haunted. Having this ghost of relationships past still lurking around in the ether causes you to be paranoid and anxious like that little kid in The Sixth Sense who just wanted to stop seeing dead people.

13. Love Bombing: Love bombing is when someone lavishes you with attention, future promises, and grand gestures quickly and early in your relationship, to the point where you are immediately smitten with them. But as soon as you show any sign of not making them a priority, they can turn on you. It鈥檚 a form of manipulation using over-the-top affection, so remember, if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

14. Monkeying: Monkeying is swinging from relationship to relationship to relationship. You take no downtime in between to reevaluate your dating choices because you think you鈥檒l lose momentum and fall into a puddle of tears on the ground. Pro tip: It鈥檚 okay to be single.

15. Netflix and Chill: This is inviting someone over to hook up while Netflix is on in the background. Remember those family movie nights when you鈥檇 pick a movie and everyone would pile on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn? Well, this isn鈥檛 that, and also, never use this term in front of your parents.

16. One Hit Wonder*: A One Hit Wonder (OHW, or alternatively a Take on Me or TOM) is someone who was a fun, short-term fling that didn鈥檛 leave a bad taste in your mouth. Similar to catchy songs like A-ha鈥檚 鈥淭ake on Me鈥 or Soft Cell鈥檚 鈥淭ainted Love,鈥 you were really into them for a solid two weeks/summer, spending every party and road trip together. You couldn鈥檛 get them out of your head until you did. Then you promptly forgot about and never saw them again, and it was totally okay. Every now and then, they鈥檒l pop up on social media as one of those 鈥減eople you may know,鈥 and you fondly wonder what they鈥檙e up to but not enough to friend request them.

17. Penguining*: Despite what Friends told you, lobsters do not mate for life (females take turns with the dominant male 鈥 what players). Most penguins species, on the other hand, are lifelong monogamists. Plus, they鈥檙e cute and always appropriately dressed to the nines in their chic black and white outfits. So when you and your forever bae have found each other for life, you鈥檙e penguining.

18. Talking: Talking is a term to ambiguously define your relationship without openly calling someone your significant other. If you鈥檙e 鈥渢alking鈥 to someone, you could be trying to date them, already exclusively seeing them, or something in between. It鈥檚 a generic term to bucket everything that could be possibly interpreted as commitment to the outside world and a sign that you probably need to DTR. You know, like actually talk to each other.

19. Vacuum-Sealed*: When your partner texts, calls, and generally smothers you to the point where you can barely breathe, you鈥檝e been vacuum-sealed. There鈥檚 wanting to spend quality time together and there鈥檚 a 鈥淐an I live?鈥 breaking point. If you find yourself in the latter situation, it鈥檚 time to say, 鈥淏oy, bye.鈥

20. Zombie-ing: If you鈥檝e been ghosted, which is emotionally traumatizing in and of itself, and then the other person starts communication again out of nowhere 鈥 as if they鈥檙e back from the dead 鈥 you鈥檝e now been zombie-d. It鈥檚 kind of like a scene out of The Walking Dead, where you鈥檙e slightly relieved to see a formerly familiar face but now are creeped out by their un-deadness.

*Okay, so OHW, penguining, and vacuum-sealed are not real dating terms (that we know of), but don鈥檛 they sound like they could be? Yes, this is the world we now live in. So, BRB, we鈥檝e got to go back to hiberdating (trust us, that鈥檚 a thing).

What are your favorite/least favorite dating slang terms? Share them with us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)