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2024 Gen Z Slang Guide For Dating and Relationships

The Bark Team  |  February 14, 2023

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**This post was updated on March 29, 2024.**

We all remember being a teenager and the drama that surrounded the dating scene. Fast forward to today and you're now probably hearing your kids talk about their friends who got cuffed and started simping for their bae. Or about the situationships that are about to have the dreaded DTR conversation.

If those sentences made absolutely no sense to you, then you’re in the right place! The dating scene looks — and sounds — a little different than when we were in grade school. So we put together a Gen Z slang guide specifically about dating to help parents know exactly what all of these terms mean.

Let’s jump in!

2024 Gen Z Slang Guide for Dating and Relationships

Bae — Short for “baby." Often a pet name for a crush or significant other.  

Benching — Just like in sports, benching someone in dating means putting them to the side to date other people. Benching is usually brought on when they do something to annoy or upset you. 

Breadcrumbing — When someone leads you on by flirting and making you feel special but without any intention to actually commit to a relationship. What's left is a "breadcrumb" trail that keeps you attached.

Cuffing / Cuffing season — "Cuffing" simply means to get into a relationship. "Cuffing season" specifically refers to winter, when you’d want someone to snuggle with while it’s colder outside.  

DTR — Stands for "define the relationship." This usually occurs after the “talking phase” (see below) when both parties have expressed feelings and it’s time to decide if both want to make it official. 

Gaslighting — This has become a popular term on the internet but it refers to a form of psychological manipulation in which a significant other makes you feel crazy or wrong, even when unjustified. 

Ghosting — A term that’s been around for quite a while now, ghosting is essentially getting dumped with no explanation. One day you’re talking to each other and things seem fine — the next day, radio silence and the relationship is over. People often ghost instead of dumping someone.

GYAT — This slang is used in reaction to seeing an attractive person, particularly with a large bottom. The word can be used as an acronym for "girl your a** thicc" or an abbreviation for "godd**n".

Ick factor Similar to a red flag, the ick factor is when there’s a certain quality or trait about another person that you just simply don’t like. It’s usually small things, but they can add up to make that person undateable. Some popular examples from the internet include when guys wear flip-flops or when girls wear too much makeup. 

ILY — An acronym for “I love you.”

Pink flags — Based on the idea of red flags, pink flags are on step down. They aren’t huge warning signals that something is wrong, but they can hint that this relationship isn’t super healthy. 

Rizz — Stemming from the word “charisma”, rizz is similar to having “game" — specifically with romantic pursuits. 

Sigma —Opposite of an "Alpha" male — someone who is quiet, independent, a lone-wolf type.

Simp — Refers to a “try-hard”, or someone who goes way out of their way to do things for their crush or significant other. 

Smash — A term that means to have casual sex. 

Snack — Used to describe an attractive person; someone who looks good enough to eat. Sometimes spelled "snacc."

Sneaky linkRefers to someone you’re seeing or hooking up with secretly. 

Situationship — Describes two people who are not officially dating but who have feelings for each other. 

Talking / Talking phase — This term describes the phase between flirting and official dating. This means you’re probably texting this person more than other people in your life but you’re nowhere near ready to be exclusive. For example, it’s common to hear “No, I’m not dating anyone. But me and this guy from another school are talking.” 

Thirsty — To be desperate for romantic and/or sexual attention. 

Zaddy — Refers to an attractive, well-dressed man. Often, it’s an older man — think Jeff Goldblum or Idris Elba.  

Zombie-ing — This happens after someone ghosts you, and then decides to start talking to you again like nothing ever happened. A “coming back from the dead,” if you will. 

The Never-Ending Gen Z Slang

So there you have it! Now you are properly prepared to navigate your teen’s dating lexicon. But of course, Gen Z slang is always changing and evolving. Did you know Bark's monitoring service can actually decipher what kids are saying to find potential issues? You'll get alerts for concerning content in texts, emails, and social media — even if it's new slang or emojis! Start your 7-day free trial today.

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

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