Language Tips for Online Dating in English

language tips for online dating

Are you keen to date a native English speaker? Are you using online apps to meet and chat with potential dates?

If so, you may have discovered that online dating in English seems to have a language all of its own! What does it mean if someone sends you a message asking you to “DTR”? What should you say if they suggest you become “FWB”?

Having a good knowledge of dating slang is essential for enjoyable, safe online dating. In this post, our language tips for online dating in English cover many of the most common phrases and acronyms you’ll encounter. They’ll not only help you communicate better with potential dates, but they will also allow you to understand how English speakers talk about the experience of online dating.

Let’s get started!

1. Benching

Benching is when you message someone often enough to keep them interested in you, but not so much that they think you’re really keen on them. It’s a bit cruel, but people normally do this while they’re looking for someone they like more.

2. Breadcrumbing

This is a bit like benching. If you are breadcrumbing, you occasionally send someone flirty messages, but don’t want to commit to a date. Sometimes people do this because they don’t like telling the other person they’re not really interested in them.

3. Catfishing and Kittenfishing

Catfishing is when someone goes on a dating site and pretends to be someone else. Sometimes there’s a nasty reason for this – they might be trying to scam you out of money. People who are catfishing usually make lots of excuses for not video messaging you or meeting you in real life.

Kittenfishing is a bit different. This is when someone creates an unrealistic profile to make themselves seem more attractive or interesting. Photoshopped images or exaggerated achievements are a sign someone might be kittenfishing.

4. DTR

This means Define the Relationship’. If someone asks to you to DTR, they want you to tell them how you see your relationship with them. Are you a couple? Are you in a casual relationship? The other person wants to know!

5. FWB

FWB stands for ‘Friends with Benefits’. Basically, this means a relationship where you enjoy having regular sex, but you don’t want to commit to a more serious relationship.

6. Ghosting

If you’ve been messaging someone on a dating site and they suddenly stop responding, you’ve been ghosted. It can also mean someone you’re dating abruptly stops replying to your texts or calls.

7. HAK

HAK means ‘Hugs and Kisses’. It’s a nice thing to say if you start developing a warm relationship with someone.

8. Love Bombing

Love bombing is when someone is much too affectionate early on. They’ll send you lots of loving messages, but be wary – their kindness rarely lasts once you are in a relationship.


Quite simply, this one means ‘Let’s Meet in Real Life’. If someone messages you with LMIRL, they want to meet up with you.

10. ONS

This refers to a ‘One-Night Stand’ – having sex with someone just for one night. A related concept is the ‘half-night stand’, where two people have sex but don’t spend the night together.

11. Slow Fade

This is a bit like ghosting. However, instead of suddenly stopping contact with you, the other person messages you less and less until they stop.

12. Submarining

This refers to when someone who has ghosted you or slow-faded you reappears in your life, either by messaging or calling you. It’s called submarining because the person resurfaces after having disappeared.

13. Wokefishing

This one is a variant of kittenfishing. However, instead of posting unrealistic photos or achievements on their profile, some who is wokefishing will pretend to have more progressive political beliefs than they actually do.

14. WYCM

This just means ‘Will You Call Me?’ The other person is asking you to phone them.

More language tips

We hope this short guide has helped you feel more comfortable with English dating slang. If you’d like more help with dating in English, be sure to check out our posts on ‘What science says about dating and learning English’, plus ‘How dating apps can help you practise your English’. However, if you want to be able to communicate with online dates as fluently as possible, why not improve your language skills with live online classes with English Online? These small, tutor-led groups give you the ideal opportunity to speak English to other people and master the language quicker!