The Digital Dating Dictionary

March 18, 2021
The Digital Dating Dictionary

As online dating continues to boom, people new to matchmaking sites, or just dipping their toes back into the dating pool are likely to find it a somewhat different place than only a few years ago!

With new phrases, acronyms and terminology cropping up all the time, let's work through the most common terms you might hear online - and explain what they mean, and how best to react.

We'll look at:

  • Catfishing / Kittenfishing
  • Bots
  • Ghosting
  • Thirst traps
  • Being left on read
  • Myers-Briggs
  • Online dating acronyms

What Does Catfishing or Kittenfishing mean?

Catfishing has been widely reported in the media, so you might be aware of this scenario when someone pretends to be someone they aren't to attract new dates.

This can be harmless or can be predatory, so if you're ever chatting with someone and it doesn't feel quite right, report or block the account and don't be tempted to overlook inconsistencies in their conversation, or a name on a profile that doesn't match the messages!

Kitten fishing is less severe, and if we're honest is something a lot of us do to some extent when we're writing a dating profile. It's more about stretching the truth to make us look more appealing - than out and out lying about something fundamental.

For example, fibbing about your height, weight or age can be kittenfishing, provided of course you come clean before things get any more serious (trust me, being authentic and truthful is always going to be the best way to find the love of your life!).

How Do I Spot an Online Dating Bot?

Bots are annoying, but part and parcel of the internet dating phenomenon. A bot is a profile that looks and sounds like a real person (at least some of the time!) but is, in fact, an automated response mechanism, usually created to sucker in new members to pay for a subscription or credits of some kind.

Here at Best10, whenever we review a site, bots are something we're quick to spot and highlight in our dating reviews. 

If you sign up to a new site and are instantly bombarded with seductive messages from insanely attractive people - but have to pay to upgrade to reply or read their messages - it's probably too good to be true.

What Is Ghosting?

Ghosting is a phrase that makes sense; it means someone you've been chatting to, or perhaps have been on a date with, suddenly disappears, i.e. becomes a ghost!

There can be a million reasons for this, but it can be confusing if you've had a great rapport and then stop receiving replies to your messages, or your calls go unanswered.

Quite honestly, ghosting is unkind and unnecessary. Often there's a really good reason - such as a person has lost their phone, been dealing with a family crisis or has been drowned with work.

However, if someone ghosts you without an explanation, I'd move on - people who can't communicate their feelings very rarely make for suitable partners.

How Do You Spot a Thirst Trap?

You might see this fairly often on social media, as well as on dating sites! It can be friendly banter, a genuine description, or can be an unkind comment - in which case delete, block, and move right along.

A person who is 'thirsty' is after a hook-up, so if you're on a casual dating site that's going to apply to pretty much every member. 

Likewise, a thirst trap is an image, post or video shared on a platform that is intended to attract dates who are seeking something casual.

Ever come across those seemingly over the top booty shots or a come hither selfie that seems a bit excessive? That's a thirst trap. 

NB 'trap' can be misleading if it's a person who genuinely wants to find an intimate partner - but sometimes this tactic is used to draw in lonely singles to some scam or another, so if it's out of place or context, again it's best to ignore it.

Have I Been Left On Read?

Argh, this is one of my personal most hated things! Being 'left on read' means that a message has been delivered, and has been seen, but hasn't been responded to.

In fairness, this is often where someone is deciding what to reply, checking the date on their calendar or is planning to respond later when they have more time - but it's still very annoying.

Usually, you know a message has been read as it will display a tick icon, or be marked as read, in which case you know the message has been opened and seen.

What Is Myers-Briggs and How Is It Relevant to Online Dating?

This is a great conversation starter if you're new to online dating! Myers-Briggs refers to the Myers & Briggs Foundation, who have published an index of 16 personality types. 

You can check them out here.

If you see a profile with an abbreviation such as ENTP or ISTP, they're referring to their personality type on the index. Knowing yours, and being able to quickly see whether you are likely to be compatible with someone is a great way to spark up a common interest.

For example:

  • ESTJ: practical, realistic and matter-of-fact.
  • ESTP: flexible, tolerant and pragmatic.
  • ISFJ: quiet, friendly, responsible and conscientious.

Online Dating Acronyms / Abbreviations

As well as new terminology that has emerged from the growth of social media and online dating, you'll also find a lot of acronyms that might not make much sense!

These are the most common:

  • FWB = Friends With Benefits, i.e. someone who'd like to be friends and have a sexual relationship, but isn't looking for anything serious.
  • DTR = Define The Relationship. This is where people are talking about a developing relationship and want to know where they stand. For example, are you becoming a serious couple/ boyfriend or girlfriend/partner/casual date, etc. 
  • IG = Instagram. If someone mentions IG or asks you to DM (direct message) on IG, they'd like you to get in contact through Instagram.
  • IRL = In Real Life. This is usually when someone is asking you for a date, or to meet up in person.
  • ONS = One Night Stand. No explanation required!
  • SC = Snapchat. Sometimes called a snap, if you're chatting to a person on a dating site and they give you their 'snap', they want to chat directly on the Snapchat platform. 
  • WYD = What You Doing? Usually, a message when someone is asking what you are doing - or is seeing if you are busy because they'd like to talk or meet up. 

Remember, a lot of these phrases and abbreviations have cropped up over the last few years, so if you're diving back into dating or haven't used a lot of social media sites or online dating apps before, you're not alone in learning the new digital dating language!

If you're ever uncertain what somebody means, it's always best to ask; that way you can get a better idea about what messages mean, and decide on the best way to respond.

Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren is a freelance writer passionate about how we develop rewarding experiences, and overcoming the barriers we face to living our best lives. Lauren writes regularly about the modern world of dating, relationships, parenthood, and social dynamics.