When we hear the term “modern dating,” confusion emerges. Beads of sweat start to formulate. Maybe you’re newly single and have to get back out in the dating scene. But how?

These days there are all these scary apps and websites and you just want to meet someone in real life. Or maybe you’ve been doing the whole online thing. You’ve gone from Tinder to Hinge to Bumble. You’ve realized it’s about finding an app that you like, and then using that app’s particular nuances to ensure you meet that special someone. But what happened to the notion that meeting strangers on the Internet was bad?

With more than 7,500 dating sites to choose from worldwide, it’s safe to say any pre-existing taboos around Internet meetups have officially died. Especially when 2,500 of those dating sites are based in the United States alone.

Dating is hard. And we may think it’s even harder now with all the technology powering it, but in all actuality, dating in our current society is a lot easier than it used to be.

Back in the days before telephones and computers, you were more likely to meet and marry someone who lived within approximately one mile of you. We also used to get married younger, because once you found a semi-decent partner, you really weren’t sure you would ever find another.

What makes dating so complicated these days are all the behavioral patterns we’ve adapted as a society within these technological advances. 49 million of us have tried this app-filled universe at least once. And, because of this, we’ve developed a sort of culture and terminology around modern dating.

Here is a guide to some of the must-know keywords you’ll need to know next time you swipe right.


When the person you’re dating isn’t responding to your texts or phone calls but they watch all of your Instagram Stories or “like” all of your photos. They “digitally hover” around you to make sure they stay in your orbit.

Text translation: “I’m completely ignoring your direct correspondence but I’m happy to keep my eye on you until I’m ready to make the next move.”


When somebody tries to make it seem like they’re having a great time by overtly posting on social media. The point of this is to show the person they are dating, or maybe newly broken up with, that they are care-free, fun, and living life — whether they really are or aren’t. This person might all of a sudden be posting to Instagram five times a day. Or maybe it’s a constant barrage of Snapchat stories that you see as a follower of their account.  

Text translation: “I care so much about your perception of my life that I’m going to post about every particular moment to ensure you think I am loving every second — even if I am not.”


This person keeps coming back for more. Just when you think you’ve gotten rid of them, they’re back — whether sliding into your DMs or sending you a text. They always want to hang out, even after you’ve canceled five times in a row, never getting the hint.

Text translation: “I want to hang out with you all the time. Even if I’m clearly missing the social cues that make it obvious you don’t feel the same way.”


Different from breaking up, this is a friendly alternative to ghosting. After the beginning stages of dating someone, you tell them how you feel and let them down gently. Casper = friendly ghost.

Text translation: “I just wanted to let you know where I’m coming from before disappearing completely from your life.”


Another term similar to ghosting; when you’re zombie-ed someone who previously ghosted you has come back into your life.

Text translation: “Hey, I know I totally disregarded you and your feelings the last time we dated, but I’d really love a second chance. I may or may not ghost you again.”


Define the Relationship. This one may seem obvious, but the timeline leading up to this pivotal moment can waiver from two weeks to six months. Normally, the longer you wait to define the relationship, the less chance you have of being in one.

Text Translation: “I really want to classify what we’re doing so that you don’t keep hooking up with other people and think it’s okay.”

Good luck out there, modern daters!

Artwork by: Juliet Romano Design.

Nicole Best is a freelance copywriter and published author living in Los Angeles. Her book of poetry on modern dating culture can be found at independent bookstores locally and in San Francisco. She’s also currently a student at the Uprights Citizen Brigade, where she’s learning to write sketch comedy shows. You can follow her on Instagram at @nikkiibest or follow her poetry at @haikantwithyou.

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