Love & dating A-Z

A guide to dating terminology

Confused by dating lingo? Not sure how to define your relationship? Then check out our A-Z of love and dating for the words you need to know.

A is for Attraction

What is it: Attraction is the force that draws us to another person. This can be instant, based on appearance and sexual desire, or a longer process developing from a deeper bond. Although nobody knows for sure what attracts us to certain people, scientists have developed various theories about how we pick mates. For instance, it is believed that symmetrical features, waist-to-hip ratio and smell can all make a difference to how attracted (and attractive) we are to others.

B is for Bromance

What is it: A bromance is a close, affectionate relationship and deep bond between two heterosexual males, or “bros”. Often as close as a romantic relationship, men involved in this non-sexual relationship can start take on couple-like qualities, sharing affectionate nicknames, enjoying weekends away and even going on “man dates”.

C is for Chemistry

What is it: Chemistry is one of the most integral components of dating, yet although it is spoken of often it is hard to define what exactly it is or why we feel it. When people talk of feeling “chemistry” with someone it generally involves feeling a connection with someone, enjoying their company and feeling attracted to them. While some people think chemistry needs to be instant in a relationship, others believe it can develop over time.

True chemistry between lovers

D is for Dating

What is it: Dating is when two people spend time together in a bid to get to know each other in a romantic context. While the definition of dating is often confusing, it is generally thought that at this stage of a relationship exclusivity is not essential. For some, a date is just a fun, one-off activity; however, dating is often a way of testing compatibility and exploring the possibility of a relationship.

E is for Exit strategy

What is it: An exit strategy is a pre-determined plan for bailing on a bad date. This is often employed for first dates, particularly of the blind variety.  Common exit strategies include a pre-arranged phone call from a friend to alert you to an “emergency”, feigning complete exhaustion or illness, or fabricating other important plans for later that evening.

F is for Friends with benefits

What is it: Friends with benefits refers to a situation where two friends engage in a sexual relationship without commitment or, in some cases, exclusivity. Although some view this as an ideal situation, the blurred boundaries and intimacy involved in this situation can cause confusion or hurt, with a US study showing that a quarter of friends with benefits situations conclude with the relationship ending altogether – including the friendship.

G is for Going Dutch

What is it: “Going Dutch” refers to when a man and a woman go on a date and split the bill instead of the man paying, as is often expected. According to a survey by First Direct, while 58 per cent of women expect to go Dutch on a first date, only 26 per cent of men do, and 55 per cent of men expect pay the full bill on a first date.

H is for Hiberdating

What is it: There are two definitions of hiberdating. The first refers to the common situation where a couple ignore all their other friends once they start dating in order to spend all their time hanging out with, texting and writing Facebook statuses about each other. The second refers to dating someone only during the winter months, often getting together in a bid to brighten up the gloomy winter months then splitting up come summer.

I is for “I’ll call you”

What is it: The line often used at the end of a date. What does it mean? Well, who knows? For those familiar with this line, you are probably aware that “I’ll call you” could mean a wide range of things including, but not limited to, the following: “I won’t be calling you”, “I’ll call you, if I don’t get a better offer”, “I may call you – I haven’t quite decided yet”. Of course, for the lucky few “I’ll call you” may just mean the following: they’ll call you.

J is for Jaguar

What is it: You may be aware of the cougar phenomenon, referring to older women who date younger men. However, cougar is not the only wildcat nickname given to women seeking out younger men. While a cougar refers to a woman in her 40s, a puma is the name given to pre-cougar women in their late 20s or 30s, and a jaguar refers to those over 50 who date younger men.

K is for Kiss and tell

What is it: A kiss and tell is the disclosure of personal details involving your sex life to others, especially in circumstances where one person would like the information to be kept secret. In recent years, celebrity kiss and tells have become very common in the media, with people revealing details of their sexual liaisons with celebrities for money.

L is for LDRs

What is it: In dating terms, LDR stands for long-distance relationship, where a couple carry on a relationship despite being geographically far apart. Since the advent and rise in popularity of the internet and mobile phones, the number of long-distance relationships has increased. According to statistics from the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships, one in 10 US marriages have included a period at long distance.

M is for Missing in action

What is it: You’ve met someone, you get along great, there’s amazing chemistry... and then suddenly they disappear off the face of the earth. No calls, no texts, no Facebook messages. Yep, your date has gone MIA. While the reasons people pull a disappearing act are often varied and complicated, more often than not it is simply a way of ending a relationship without drama and conflict (and who wants to date someone that gutless anyway?).

N is for Niche dating

What is it: Online dating has soared in popularity in recent years, with many people signing up to browse for their perfect partner, and now the quest for love has gotten even easier with the launch of niche dating sites which allow people to hunt out those who share their particular passions. Some examples of niche dating sites include websites for those of different religious backgrounds, for those who love a man or woman in uniform, and for vegetarians or eco-friendly singletons.

O is for Office romance

What is it: An office romance is, as the name suggests, a relationship or flirtation between two people employed by the same company. Although office romances can have their downsides if handled badly, a surprising number of people find love in the workplace. According to a study by Vault.com, 59 per cent of us have had an office romance, while separate research suggests that between 22 and 50 per cent of office romances lead to marriage.

P is for Pseudo-relationship

What is it: A pseudo-relationship is when two people (most often a man and a woman) hang out together, share private jokes together, spend special occasions together and go through all the motions of being a couple... without actually being in a relationship. Often there are no romantic feelings involved or, if there are, they are generally one-sided. This is also known as “Just Friends” syndrome.

Q is for Quiet night in

What is it: Quiet nights in are something that you will probably experience a lot during your time of hiberdating (see above). For many couples, entering a relationship means leaving behind (or cutting down on) nights out with friends in favour of quiet nights in with your partner. According to a study of 3,000 women, two in three women prefer spending time with their husbands than with their friends.

R is for Rebound

What is it: A rebound relationship is one that occurs before you are fully over your last relationship or partner. The definition of a rebound relationship is not based on the time that has passed since your breakup but rather on your feelings towards it. If you were not fully over your ex before meeting your partner or are using the new relationship as a form of revenge, to boost your self-esteem or to fill a void, it is likely you are in a rebound relationship.

S is for Speed dating

What is it: Speed dating is a matchmaking event in which men and women are rotated for a series of mini dates. At the end of the session participants can indicate which men or women they are interested in and, providing there is a match, contact details will then be provided. While most speed dating events are simply organised by age, many niche events exist such as gay and lesbian events, Christian speed dating and Comic Con speed dating for comic book fans.

T is for Three day rule

What is it: The three day rule is a rule often employed by men when making contact with a girl after getting her number or a first date. The idea is that by waiting three days to get in touch they will avoid appearing desperate. However, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Match.com, couples are now waiting less time (just an average of 1.52 days) to get in touch. This is believed to be down to new technology such as mobile phones which make it easier to get in touch.

U is for Umfriend

What is it: Umfriend is a slang expression used to refer to someone who you are not yet sure of your relationship status with or with whom you are trying to conceal a relationship from others. As the nature of this relationship is uncertain or undefined, the “Um” depicts a level of hesitation, as in: “This is Jane, my... um, friend.”

V is for Virtual relationship

What is it: A virtual relationship is a relationship that takes place over the internet; for instance through email, chatrooms and IMs. As it has become easier to communicate with others through new technology, the number of online relationships has risen, with some couples never actually meeting face to face. The text version of a virtual relationship is a textationship, in which a relationship is conducted purely by text.

W is for Wingman

What is it: A wingman (or wingwoman) is a friend who you take along to a social event or bar to help you find and approach members of the opposite sex. A wingman’s duties may include keeping your potential partner’s friends occupied while you make your move or going along with any fictitious stories you may use to impress your guy or girl.

X is for Xoxo

What is it: Xoxo is often used on texts, emails or instant messages to indicate hugs and kisses (the o’s stand for hugs and the x’s for kisses). This is a term used to express affection when signing off a message and is often used between good friends or those who are dating.

Y is for Yes

What is it: These three little letters are perhaps the cheapest and easiest way to restore peace in your relationship. According to a study of 3000 adults, the average couple argues 312 times a year, so it is important to know when to back down from an argument and just agree with your partner (even if you don’t fully mean it!). Next time your partner asks if you will change the channel, wash up or take out the bins, try using this magic word to save yourself some conflict!

Z is for Zelophobia

What is it: Many people experience jealousy at some point in a relationship, but for those with zelophobia jealousy is a cause of extreme fear. Many zelophobics are so afraid of the feeling of jealousy (perhaps due to their previous experiences of it) that they refrain from all romantic involvement. Having therapy to talk through emotions and build self-esteem can help with zelophobia.


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