The Lovers' Lexicon: Your Guide to Gen Z Slang & Dating Terms

Because relationships should really come with their own dictionary.
Gen Z Slang and Dating Terms
Design: Tiana Crispino
Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
by
Jamie Cuccinelli
Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
Jamie Cuccinelli
Senior Editor, Sex & Relationships
  • Jamie is a Senior Editor for The Knot where she oversees all sex and relationship editorial content.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, she worked with an array of digital publications that include Brides, The Zoe Report, Bustle and MyDomaine.
  • Jamie graduated with a degree in English and Media, Culture & Communications from New York University.
Updated Oct 16, 2023

Modern relationships and online dating seem to come with their own language. From DINK to beige flags to situationships, Gen Z slang has taken over both your TikTok #ForYouPage and the dating world. And just like Gen Z's affinity for low-rise jeans, some of their relationship terminology may leave you scratching your head. Fortunately, your vocab lesson is officially in session.

Whether you're navigating dating apps yourself or just want to know WTH "the kids" are talking about, it's time to study up on Gen Z's new favorite relationship terms, from A to, well, Z. Below, find helpful definitions to Gen Z slang and modern dating terms—and get your rizz on. (Sorry.)

The Ultimate Gen Z Dating Dictionary

TBH, there are few things more embarrassing—or that'll make you feel older—than using a Gen Z slang term incorrectly. To save yourself from such a twenty-first-century faux pas, read up on the definitions of modern dating terms here. (We'll be keeping this page up-to-date for all your love lingo questions and needs.)

Beige Flag

noun—1. unoriginal or dull dating app prompt responses, photos and/or conversation starters; 2. a partner's unique quirks and innocuous habits

Benching

verb—when one continues to casually date a partner without committing, essentially keeping them and the potential relationship as an "option"

Breadcrumbing

verb—the act of providing a partner with just enough affection to maintain their attention while never progressing the relationship

Cuffing

verb—the act of entering into a more serious relationship, usually lasting through the colder months of November through March

Gen Z Slang, DINK
Design: Natalie Romine

Cushioning

verb—when someone maintains or seeks other potential relationships to keep their options open while simultaneously in a committed relationship

DINK

acronym—dual income no kids; a lifestyle that some couples seek categorized by two streams of income and no children

Dry Dating

noun—the practice of abstaining from alcohol during dates

Enmeshment Definition
Design: Natalie Romine

DTR

acronym—define the relationship; the act of defining a relationship or the moment when one is asked to do so

Enmeshment

noun—a relationship in which the partners and their lives have become so intertwined, boundaries are ignored or blurred

Fexting

verb—to fight with a partner over text message, reportedly coined by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden

Gen Z Slang, love bombing
Design: Natalie Romine

Freckling

verb—the act of entering into a more serious relationship during the warmer summer months, before ending the relationship during the fall or winter season

Groundhogging

verb—when one pursues relationships with the same type of person with the expectation of different results

Kitten-fishing

verb—when one misrepresents themselves on dating apps with smaller lies than the more overt catfishing; ex. adding an inch or two to your height or using old photos

Gen Z Slang, pocketing
Design: Natalie Romine

Love Bombing

verb—the unhealthy and potentially abusive behavior of showering excessive flattery and/or gifts for the purpose of manipulation

Pocketing

verb—a verbal or nonverbal refusal to introduce a partner to family and friends or share photos on social media

Rizz

noun—how successful someone is at attracting and/or flirting with potential partners due to a charismatic personality or silent charm

Roommate Syndrome

noun—when a romantic relationship begins to feel platonic once cohabitation begins

Situationship

noun—a romantic or sexual relationship that remains undefined

Gen Z Slang, Soft Launch
Design: Natalie Romine

Slow Fade

noun—a way of ending a relationship through slowly decreasing your communication with a partner, in lieu of a verbal and honest conversation

Soft Launch

noun—the subtle reveal that you're in a relationship by sharing slightly obscured photos of your partner on social media

Soul Tie

noun—a deep emotional bond and spiritual connection between two people

Gen Z Slang, Twin Flame
Design: Natalie Romine

Stonewalling

verb—when one partner in a relationship is emotionally inaccessible to the other and instead withdraws from conflict and/or refuses to communicate

Twin Flame

noun—1. an intense soul connection, not necessarily romantic in nature, based on the concept of one soul being split into two bodies; 2. a type of soul tie

How Do Gen Z Slang and Modern Dating Terms Originate?

While the origins of Gen Z slang and dating terminology will often vary, one can usually rely on social media to discover and spread modern dating terms and trends.

For example, the term beige flags was originally coined by TikToker @itscaito as a way to describe the dating app indicators that someone is, for lack of a better word, boring. And, as occasionally happens, its definition grew and shifted as the term rose in popularity—in this case, to also encompass a partner's quirks and oddball habits.

Queer spaces will also regularly originate their own relationship terms, oftentimes due to the unfortunate fact that many of the popular relationship terms of decades past are steeped in heteronormativity and exclusion.

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