ENSCONCED FIRMLY ON THE SMUG, WELL-DENTED SOFA OF COUPLEDOM, I’m probably not the best-placed person to spout mouthy observations about what it must be like dating these days. But I’m also nothing if not delusional, so you’d better believe I’m going to try. What’s more, I’m going to do it with all the gravelly, imperious overtones of David Attenborough narrating Planet Earth. I apologise in advance.
Let’s start with this curious little peek into how the other half live. (Not to be confused with how your other half lives.) A young person informed me this week that it’s ‘cufﬁng season’, and that, as sure as night follows day, this will shortly be followed by the equally impenetrable-sounding ‘clearing season’. Being 100, I had no idea what that meant, so, ever-curious, I swiftly – read: idiotically, with the enthusiasm of a puppy jumping into a puddle – bashed it into Google. Let me save you a job. Don’t do it. The results were, quite frankly, shocking. Especially at my age.
Why? Well, I’m so glad you asked. Aside from cufﬁng – less 50 Shades (shame), and more cold-weather desperation, it turns out – I also managed to get soaked in a tidal wave of terminology from the dating sphere that makes ‘ghosting’ look as quaint as ‘going steady’. In fact, I now yearn for the simpler times of ghosting – or at least, I do on your behalf.
So here it is. A condensed, slightly sanitised version of the entire encyclopaedic modern dating lexicon that seems to have sprung up in the time since I was last knocking about in Mahiki. The CliffsNotes of courting, if you will.
Micro-cheating. It’s a thing. Deﬁnition: death by a million tiny inﬁdelities. According to psychologist Martin Graff, micro-cheating is the term for that grey area that social media has made it all too easy for us to occupy. Added your ex on Snapchat? Complimented a member of the opposite sex on Insta? Commented with a heart emoji, ﬂirtily tagged someone in a meme or shown a “high level of digital interest in someone outside your existing relationship?” (The Independent’s judgemental words, not mine.) It all constitutes micro-cheating, friends. In short, we’re all screwed, and I should probably stop DMing Zac Efron so much.
Dr Graff explains, “So much of human relationships has moved online, meaning couples now have to make decisions about what is acceptable that they didn’t have to make 10 years ago.” Social media strikes again, eh? Which brings us neatly on to my favourite trend: ‘Gatsbying’.
Someone (a genius, obviously) has classiﬁed this as the phenomenon of posting a ridiculously ostentatious and/or impressive Insta Story or Snapchat and waiting for one particular person to watch it. This could very well be where stupidity meets brilliance, but I do worry that if this niche level of subtlety is where mating rituals are headed, humanity is doomed and we’ll all be extinct within the next 80 years.
Elsewhere, we’re now also apparently having to navigate ‘submarining’: when someone whose mama clearly didn’t raise them right ghosts on you, before resurfacing weeks later as if nothing happened. See also: ‘zombieing’ – returning in the manner of the undead. Not to be confused with: ‘haunting’, which is essentially just ghosting but with a fun, creative twist – they carry on watching your Stories just to confuse everyone.
Worryingly, it goes on. ‘Kittenﬁshing’: catﬁshing, but by using a picture of themselves where they’re much, much younger. ‘Breadcrumbing’: leaving a sporadic trail of slivers of interest, but never actually committing to anything. ‘Tindstagramming’: linking your Insta proﬁle to The App That Cannot Be Named and having someone slide in your DMs there instead. ‘R-bombing’: where someone leaves their read receipts on, not even allowing you the kind uncertainty to wonder whether you’ve actually been snubbed or if they’ve just died instead.
I have to hand it to them: if there’s a higher-power dating consortium coming up with terms for these microclimates, they’re nailing it. But by naming them, are we actually validating certain behaviours – even egging them on? Quite possibly. One good thing about buzzwords, though… they’re over quicker than an Insta story. Along with the trends, we hope, that spawned them.