Sex & Relationships

Cuffing, breadcrumbing, lovebombing: Is millennial dating slang really shaking up the love game?

When it comes to romance, Millennials love making new lingo! But do 'new' terms necessarily mean 'new' practices?

By Ciara Rouege

HOUSTON — With cuffing season in full effect, romance is definitely in the air! But for millennial singles, the air may be just a little bit shadier.

Benchingbreadcrumbinglovebombing and stashing are just a few terms today’s young people are using to describe their relationships. Of course, to most Gen. X-ers and Baby Boomers these words can sound like straight up gibberish. For example, do you know what about ghosting? To close the communication gap between the generation, NewsFix hunt down the definitions this modern lovers slang.


Millennial Dating Slang Cheat Sheet 

Cuffing Season: Finding a family-appropriate holiday hook-up to take home for the holidays.

Stashing: When an unmarried person keeps a relationship hidden away for whatever reason.

LovebombingOverwhelming a partner with attention and gifts.

Ghosting: Cutting off all contact with a lover.

Haunting: When an old flame pops up in your social media feed seemingly out of nowhere

Netflix ‘n’ ChillInviting a love interest over to watch Netflix, but both parties know they’re meeting up to have sex.

BreadcrumbingLeading a person on without fully committing friendship or relationship.

Benching: Telling a person you want a relationship, even going as far as setting up dates, but never seeming to follow through.


Dr. Norma Ngo is a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist. She believes these trendy terms come from a dating scene sped up by social media, dating apps and digital dating services.

“I don’t think the practices are necessarily new: ghosting…breadcrumbing…benching,” Ngo said. “People get out of relationships. People have backups. That’s been going on for a long time.”

And new terms are born each day as dating continues to go digital among young people.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of singles aged 18 to 24 using online services and apps to find love tripled from 10 percent in 2013 to almost 30 percent in 2015. On the flip side, 23 percent of people in a 2013 study said singles who used online dating sties were ‘desperate.’

Ouch!

“I think the only term that I would say is probably newer with millennials is haunting— only because that’s more of an online thing,” Ngo said.

Younger players, same old game

These terms may be unheard of to most, but are the practices behind them a millennial thing? Residents we talked to at the Brookdale Tanglewood Assisted Senior Living Home in Houston said no way!

So what’s up with breadcrumbing? We now know it’s when you lead a person on, but Dorothy Meehan says that’s nothing new.

“Yeah, they have been doing that since the beginning—throwing out those breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretel,” she said.

We asked her Meehan’s husband Bob, if he knew what stashing was.

“Stashing away something? A place to put it that nobody knows,” He responded.

Well, sort of. In today’s dating 101, stashing is when an unmarried person is in a relationship, but they’re keeping it kind of hidden for whatever reason.

“You didn’t keep it a secret that much. If your friends didn’t know, somebody knew,” Bob said.

In some ways, John Wise said millennials have it a bit easier than singles had it in his day.  He told said when a person see someone they might be interested in, they just search for them online to find out more about them.

When John first spotted his future wife, Gail, he wasn’t able to catch her name. To find her, John jotted down the license number of the car she was riding in, next had a police buddy run the plates— and then VIOLA! He had a phone number to call her.

Hoping her family wouldn’t find it strange, he kindly asked Gail’s aunt if he could take her out on a date.  Now wouldn’t it have been easier just to send a friend request? Well that wasn’t an option in the 1960s.

You had to show a little more initiative!

“Go ahead and do your thing, whatever you need to get the person you want,” John said.

It’s also important to point out that while most Baby Boomers and Gen. X-ers were getting married in their late teens and early 20s, today’s singles are tying the knot much later in life.

So what are millennials actually doing different?

According to the National Marriage Project in 2013, today’s women are walking down the isle at 27 years old while men are getting married at 29 on average. Researchers said it’s a number that continues to rise with each coming generation.

Millennials are also different in that these singles oft get through the “opening stages” of a relationship online before investing in-person.

“A lot of this stuff is done before you meet the person through texting— actually through the app— and then you get to the texting-talking stage,” Ngo said. “And then there’s very quickly, getting to the sexual intimacy part of it.”

Haunting and Netflix ‘n’ chill are catchy phrases, but are some of these practice dangerous? Dr. Ngo said you may want to take it slow with lovebombers.

“[Lovebombing] is when someone very quickly attaches to you and show you with a lot of attention and gifts— and demands a lot of your attention. The moment you decide you want to spend time with someone else— or talk to someone else — they really have a problem with that,” Ngo said. “When people start to feel that it’s controlling, then it’s out of balance and not healthy. And in some cases it can be borderline abusive.”

Each generation has like to put it’s own spin on dating slang, but we can all learn a few lesson from the more experienced lovers. Both the Wises and the Meehans have been married for 56 years— so they know a thing or two!

Because while the players may change— the love game will always be the same!

This article was originally posted to the CW39 Houston website on Nov. 2, 2017.

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