CLEO’s Glossary of Dating Terms for 2020, According To An Expert

Here we are teetering on the edge of 2019 where we are bombarded by so much information and are exposed to so much more than before. Life now has inverted — the most difficult and mundane tasks are made automated and easy, while the most complicated things like love has been upended and made even more mysterious. Urgh.

Dating seems so much harder these days by virtue of the sheer access that we have to so many other people, via communication tools and dating apps. It’s as though we’re trying so hard to focus, and distraction seems to be a common complaint for most relationships that don’t appear to be stable. And the stories that we hear… Oh the stories.

So while we were interviewing a love and sex expert about, well, love and sex, we wanted to know a bit more about what’s out there, the dating trends, what are the words we’re using nowadays in this sphere and what terms to know and brush up on (and possibly, pre-empt yourself about).

If you haven’t brushed up yet, please read the following and catch up on Gen Z terms of dating and how we’re pretty much treating each other nowadays!

RELATED: CLEO’s Glossary of Dating Terms for 2018

RELATED: CLEO’s Glossary Of Dating Terms For 2018 Part 2


It’s a term coined by relationship and sex columnist, Dan Savage, to describe a couple who is mostly monogamy but occasionally makes exception for sexual play. I.e., talk about fantasies with a third person together, flirts together or separately etc.


While catfishing is putting on an entirely fake profile online, kittenfishing is when someone puts a way flattering versions of themselves online and on dating apps to fish for a potential partner. Pictures could be either photoshopped or filtered for maximum flattery.


When the person you’re dating, slowly and over time convinces you that you’re mad and make you doubt your memory. The fault could be entirely theirs, but instead of taking responsibility, they twist your words and make you be the guilty one instead.


After leaving an abusive or controlling partner, they suck you back in after a period of no contact through clever emotional manipulation.


When a man removes his condom during sex without his partner’s knowledge, then either does not continue wearing the condom or putting the condom back on so that his partner doesn’t know what he did.


Repeated cycle of ignoring a partner, then making contact just as they’re about to give up on the relationship. It sort of feel like you’re that person’s Plan B as they shop around for other partners.


While ghosting describes someone who suddenly disappears without a trace, while zombie-ing refers to someone suddenly reappearing and acting as if nothing happened.


When a relationship doesn’t work out and you break up with them, but then they never really left because you see them watching your Instagram stories and liking/commenting all your posts. It’s as if they want you to know they’re still around.


An act of someone acting like they’re interested in you by leaving you a series of text suggesting their interested, but in actual fact, they have no intention of wanting to be in a relationship. This is evident through their inability to follow through what they say.



Jasmine is a sex positive advocate that aims to break down barriers that stop people communicating openly and honestly about sexual health, self-love, body positivity and relationships. #Breakthetaboo with her on @ohheymissking today!