Your *ultimate* dating dictionary: from benching to zombie-ing
"OMG, I think I’ve been benched! Our textationship was going really great—or was it a flirtationship?—but then, out of nowhere, he ghosted me. Ugh! I can’t tell if that’s better or worse than a slow fade or being mooned. All I know is that in two months he’ll be zombie-ing me big time. Guess I’ll just haunt him until then..."
You’re the queen of trendy slang. You had a finsta before it was a thing. You moved on from “savage” months ago. And you basically invented the #plandid. But when it comes to decoding the modern language of love, you’re completely confused. Dating is already tough enough without having to define your relationship with a dictionary—so we’re doing the work for you. Here’s a breakdown of what these terms really mean—both IRL *and* for your relationship…
What it means: You and the cutie in your chem class text all the time and you’re constantly chatting at lunch. You take the risk and ask him to hang out...only to have him cancel on you at the last minute. You reschedule…and he cancels…again. What’s up? Likely, you’ve been benched (yep, like in sports). Basically, the guy thinks you’re cool enough to keep on his “roster,” but isn’t ready—or willing—to put you in the game (aka date you) right now.
What to do: Been benched? Try to let it go (right after you let *him* go, too). You deserve better than someone who’s going to string you along. And if you realize you’re the one (unintentionally) doing the benching? Make plans with your guy and actually keep them. If you’re not interested in doing so, set him free.
What it means: You and the cute girl in your gym class flirt from the second you hit the track to the final moments of your sweat sesh, but nothing more ever happens.
What to do: If you want to move past those frustrating feels, ask for her number and strike up a convo. Don’t want to be so forward? Partner up with her in class, ask if she wants to eat lunch with you or buddy up to study together after school. The more time you spend together, the more likely you are to graduate from flirting to something more.
What it means: Everything with your guy is going swimmingly and then, suddenly, all communication comes to a screeching halt. He stops responding to your texts, your Snapchat streak is donezo and those instant Instagram likes are no more. Basically, he has decided to act like the two of you were never a thing and that he never existed—almost like he’s a, well, ghost.
What to do: If this happens to you, we give you permission to reach out—but only once. He’s gone completely Casper? It’s time to move on. You're contemplating ghosting someone else? Save yourself the bad karma points and let them down the old-fashioned way: gently, and in person.
What it means: It’s been months since you and your ex broke up, but you haven’t stopped commenting on his Musical.lys, liking the funny vids he shares on Facebook and generally finding ways to get his attention.
What to do: Getting double- tap happy on your ex isn’t cool. If that sounds like you, carve out some time for a social media break and take a deeper look into why you’re still keeping tabs on someone who’s no longer in your life. And if you find yourself on the receiving end of unwanted likes and comments, do your best to ignore them. Feeling harassed? Tell a parent or trusted adult what’s going on.
What it means: Ah, no, this is *not* what you think it is. Mooning is when someone turns off the notifications for your texts. Harsh? You bet. A thing? Unfortunately. But why is it called “mooning” and not just “ignoring”? It’s a play on iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb” icon—which is a moon.
What to do: If you continue to reach out to no avail, put your energy elsewhere (if they are unkind enough to moon you without telling you why, they're not the type of person you want to be with, anyway). You mooned someone? Be honest and say you’re not interested.
What it means: Not all relationships end with a blowup. Sometimes, things just peter out for no particular reason until you two are no longer a part of each other’s lives.
What to do: Just because your flame fizzled doesn’t mean it’s not sad—it just means you weren’t meant to be (but, hey, neither were Selena and The Weeknd...and they’re both doing OK). Still, if you’re feeling down, throw your attention into something creative to stay productive.
What it means: You’re totally into this guy you met in youth group. Your text messages are flirty and his Snapchats are super sweet. But beyond that first meet-up, you’ve never actually spoken to each other in person.
What to do: Sure, it’s super comfy to have this flirty relationship between your phones, but it’ll likely stay stuck in that mode unless you make a move. You already know you can hold a killer convo with this guy, so invite him to meet for a latte after school one day. Or, make it even simpler by having him hang with your buds at game night. Being with a crowd will ease any tension and nerves, and the face-to-face time will make your text-based relationship seem more, well, real.
What it means: You know the not-super-nice boy you dated for two months freshman year? Yeah, he’s baaack—and he wants to bring your relationship back from the dead.
What to do: Before you even consider giving this guy a second chance, be honest with yourself. Were you ever really happy with him? Is revisiting all of that pain worth it? If you’re willing to take the risk, then say yes and see where things go. But remember: There are some things in life that are best kept in the past.
A version of this story appeared in the February/March issue of Girls' Life magazine.