5 Ridiculous New Dating Terms For Gen Y Commitment Phobes
Illustration by nuglybird for RICE

Love is complicated, and newfangled words make the already confounding dating landscape even harder to navigate. The terms may be relatively new, but the dating practices they define have been around far longer.

Take it from this commitment phobe: when it comes to legitimising shitty behaviour, no one does it better than us.

1. Ghosting

To ghost someone is to disappear from their life without any reason. When you lose interest in someone you aren’t seeing exclusively enough to warrant a proper discussion to end things, you just vanish, like a ghost.

People do this because we want to avoid potential drama. But when you’re the heartbreaker, you can’t win. Whether you let someone down truthfully or decide to spare their feelings by ghosting, you’re still a jerk.

But as any self-respecting dater knows, with Tinder matches as with feelings: easy come, easy go.

2. Benching

A different level of hell, benching is merciless. Unlike ghosting, it doesn’t cut loose either party. With benching, you become a reserve for someone keeping their options open.

Say you’re seeing someone regularly and sense a possible romantic connection. You may have gone for days without a single text. Just when you suspect they’re dead or have ghosted you, they reappear in your life with a string of well-timed Instagram likes and friendly texts.

Congratulations, you’ve been benched. Katy Perry sums it up: “You don’t really wanna stay, no. But you don’t really wanna go.”

3. Breadcrumbing

Unlike benching where communication swings between hot and cold, a breadcrumber is consistently casual and non-committal.

In essence, breadcrumbing involves occasional flirtatious text messages that amount to connections, not conversations. As a serial flirt, your weapon of choice is false hope.

In a normal world, these playful text messages indicate interest. For breadcrumbers, sending non-committal text messages to lure the other party is simply fun without the follow-up. You want to keep yourself relevant in someone’s mind, although you don’t actually care about being in their lives.

Is there any better cushion than Tony Leung? (Image credit: IMDb)

4. Backburners

Backburner relationships are romantic prospects you may or may not want to pursue. Because of other priorities, incompatibility, another partner, or bad timing, you know things are unlikely to work out with backburners. Yet you constantly wonder: what if?  

You’re unlikely to take an assertive approach with these backburners, opting to maintain a platonic friendship in order to keep them around. In other words, they may never know you how you feel.

Because backburners are rarely pursued, just romanticised, it can often seem like your idea of them is more appealing than an actual relationship with them.

5. Cushioning

The newest dating trend to make you lose faith in humanity and a subset of backburner relationships, cushioning is akin to having breakup insurance. Basically, you keep in touch with other romantic prospects while you’re exclusively dating someone or in a committed relationship. So, if or when that break up happens, these prospects are then roped in to cushion your broken heart.

That said, there’s a difference between a cushion and a rebound. Cushions don’t necessarily have relationship potential, and merely make you feel better about yourself. That’s why you keep them around.

Sadly, your cushions may not even be there as friends. They might be holding out for something more, with more being everything from marriage to a quick lay.

Of course, we’re not all cynical about love. Some argue we may be closet romantics who just ditch anything that isn’t ideal. But every commitment phobe knows the ultimate pitfall: meeting someone ideal and then playing yourself out.

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