Ghosts, Zombies, And Stashers: The Modern Dating Dictionary

Dating has gotten a little absurd nowadays. It's no longer a guy who picks you up and takes you out to dinner before trying to sneak a kiss. We now need entire dictionaries to tell us what the heck is happening.

By Keelia Clarkson4 min read
Ghosts, Zombies, And Stashers: The Modern Dating Dictionary

My idea of dating when growing up was very different than what we're seeing now. One of my favorite movies growing up was Gidget (the one with Sandra Dee, of course). I was taken with the adorable swimsuits, the sunny, Southern California beach setting, and most of all, the romance. I reveled in watching Gidget fall for the cute surfer guy, and cheered when they finally agreed to “go steady,” and he “pinned” her, which is when a guy gives his girl a pin as a symbol of his commitment to her. How cute is that?

Dating has certainly changed since then. What used to look like a months-long courting process through exchanging letters and going on burger dates now goes by much faster, with the letters we exchange being virtual one-liners and burger dates implying much more than just dinner. The introduction of dating apps has honestly just made modern romance even weirder.

Now, we've got a whole list of new, confusing terms to describe our romances. And being that the majority of dating is done by younger people who love to come up with their own terms to confuse the older folk, the dictionary of dating is constantly being added to. Even those of us on the younger side can find it exhausting to keep up with these new terms. 

Here are some of our favorite (and the weirdest) terms you're likely to stumble across.


As the most common term on this list, most of us are well-acquainted with what ghosting is: When we’ve had full-on conversations with someone, maybe even planned a date, or gone on a date or two, with everything seemingly going well, until poof — they fall off the face of the planet. One day, we just don’t hear from them again. Our texts and calls go unanswered, without explanation, and we’re left scratching our heads in confusion, wondering if it’s something we said.


If you’ve seen any scary movie ever, you’ll know that ghosts love to haunt — and it seems that some ghosts in the world of dating are no different. Of course, they don’t haunt us by emerging from dark corners at night, but instead, by continuing to interact with our social media (whether by liking posts or watching stories), but failing to ever text back — have they no shame? The worst part of haunting is we know they didn’t accidentally lose their phone in the Pacific Ocean or tragically fall into a coma. They could’ve texted us back weeks ago, but they’ve chosen not to.

Guys who haunt continue to interact with your social media, but fail to text back.


Not all ghosts haunt, however. Some of them seem to disappear for good, offering us zero indication of life after ghosting. Weeks, months, even a year could go by with no contact. Until one night, a vaguely familiar name pops up on our phone, with a text that goes something like this: “Hey, sorry, I’ve had a lot going on. But you’ve been on my mind. How are you?” And just like that, a ghost comes back from the dead as a zombie. We’re left questioning why they’d reach out after so long, what they want from us, and whether or not we should respond (which, by the way, don’t).


Sometimes, in the early days of a relationship, it’s fun to keep things hush-hush, to just enjoy our budding romance without dealing with our aunt’s nosiness on Facebook. But eventually, we go “public” by posting on social media, or introducing our significant other to our loved ones. Stashers, on the other hand, would rather keep us secret for good. They come up with excuses to keep us from meeting their family or friends, may not even tell them of our existence, and never reveal their relationship status on social media. To any outsider, our significant other looks single and ready to mingle.

Stashers would rather keep us and our relationship secret for good.


It’s one thing to play hard to get, to avoid coming off too interested by playing it cool. It’s another thing entirely to breadcrumb. When someone breadcrumbs us, they’re doing the absolute least by presenting us with tiny, bite-sized rations of attention or affection — offering us just enough to keep hoping and coming back for more. They might like all of our posts, hit us up with a “Hey beautiful/cutie/pretty girl” after not texting us for two days, or keep inviting us over every week but never plan a real date. Breadcrumbers make us feel wanted for all of three seconds, but ultimately leave us unsatisfied by never actually committing to more.


Do you also find submarines somewhat creepy? They skulk around underwater, hidden and undetected, before popping back up whenever and wherever they please — almost like aquatic zombies. Submarining, of course, is awfully similar to zombieing. The main difference is in their approach. Whereas zombies are willing to address the initial ghosting that took place, submarines will pop up with no apology or acknowledgement of their ghost-like behavior. They’ll waltz into our DMs with a “Hey, what are you doing on Friday?” as if they’ve no recollection of ghosting us a month ago. But don’t be fooled — submarines always find their way back to the dark depths of the ocean.

Submarines will pop up with no apology or acknowledgement of their ghost-like behavior.

Slow Fading

Ghosting is immediate, blunt, and unmistakable. We all know, after enough time has passed, that we’ve been ghosted. But slow fading, or breaking up in slow motion, is much harder to define. When we’re being slow faded, it’ll feel like something’s off at first — maybe we always used to see our guy on Friday, but suddenly he’s busy on Friday… and every other day, too. Or maybe we’d talked about seeing a movie together, but he goes to see it with his buddies instead. Eventually, contact with a slow fader will be so minimal, it’ll feel normal to barely ever hear from them. Slow fading is for the coward who doesn’t have the guts to break up or ghost.


Perhaps the most sneaky and damaging technique of them all, negging is described as the use of backhanded compliments, the murky, bewildering middle ground between a compliment and an insult: “You’re so down to earth. I like that you don’t put a lot of effort into your appearance.” “You’re smarter than I expected you to be.” “You’re pretty for an Asian girl.” Negging is often used by narcissists and manipulators as a means of making us crave their approval, which they always keep just out of reach. Victims of negging normally already struggle with insecurity and will feel the need to prove themselves or impress their date, creating an unhealthy power dynamic.

Negging is often used by narcissists and manipulators as a means of making us crave their approval.

Closing Thoughts

The world of dating is constantly shifting, with new terms and techniques being added to our relationship dictionaries. It’s difficult to stay up to date, but not impossible!

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