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Here are a few terms you might want to know for this year’s cuffing season.

Cuffing season

How we long for love. And when the weather cools down and the holidays loom ahead, even the most commitment-shy may find a steady squeeze or get “cuffed”—at least till Valentine’s Day. This popular term is likely short for “handcuffing” and relates to the old idea of a mate as a prisoner’s “ball and chain.”


How do you demonstrate romantic interest in the online era? Would-be suitors will, as one keen social observer puts it, “like three of your Instagram pictures in a row (only ones with you in them, obviously), they’ll send you videos of miniature pigs [on Facebook], they’ll text you with extra letters added into the words (thaaaank you). This is flirting, but…they’re keeping things at a level of plausible deniability.”

Thirst trap

You know those barely clothed selfies that certain people are always posting on social media? That’s a “thirst trap”—”thirst” being an all-too evocative popular term for desperation, sexual and otherwise. Are people really trolling for compliments with scantily clad six-pack abs or dangerous curves? Probably depends on the person. So if you’re serious about cuffing season, don’t keep tuning those thirst traps! Keep it moving along instead.


In a way, “negging” is the opposite of “tuning”: semi-insulting potential lovers or giving them backhanded compliments to start with so they’ll feel insecure and more open to advances. “‘For a girl with a belly shirt: ‘Did your shirt shrink in the laundry?’…’Your nose is a little red. You’re like an Eskimo. Cool.'”


Pretending to be someone else completely different than who you actually are. According to Slate, the term comes from the 2010 documentary Catfish, in which one imposter’s husband claims that people like her keep the online world exciting, like catfish that are put in with vats of live cod on long voyages to liven them up.


Maybe you’ve already gone out on some dates, maybe you’ve just exchanged messages with a romantic prospect on Match or Tinder. Either way, this person doles out just enough contact to keep your hopes alive. Like Hansel and Gretel, they leave you a trail of online traces or “breadcrumbs” but never come through.


But why does your romantic prospect even bother with breadcrumbs? All signs point to “benching.” Like a coach who leaves his second string players on the proverbial bench, your flirty, elusive friend is probably keeping you in the background in case other, more desirable romantic prospects don’t work out.


Of course tons of people do slog through all the obstacles and get together. At that point, they may go “Facebook Official” (FBO) by changing their stated “relationship status.”


But what’s the alternative to FBO breakups? If your affair falls flat, at some point you may realize it’s become a…textlationship! You exchange frequent messages, but somehow meetings in real life (IRL) never come through.


No list of this kind would be complete without the infamous term “ghosting,” the coward’s way out of awkward social interaction, romantic or otherwise.


Remember Gloria Gaynor’s great disco classic “I Will Survive”? She finally gets over the jerk who ghosted her and there he is sitting in her living room: “I should have changed that stupid lock. I should have made you leave your key. If I had known for just one second you’d be back to bother me.” Well, that’s the ultimate zombie anthem, only 40 years later, it all takes place online. Says one Brooklyn dating coach: “Zombie-ing can be as a simple as an ex who disappeared liking something on your Facebook or Instagram, or sending a request to connect on LinkedIn. (Subtext: I don’t have the courage to end our relationship respectfully, but please help me find a job!)” We don’t need no stinkin’ dating coach to move this one along. You can gauge whether your partner is trustworthy by looking for these signs.


Are there more terms not mentioned above? Let us know @theMRLshow