As if dating wasn’t already perilous enough with all kinds of first date horror stories and unsolicited images of male equipment flying around, there are a few new dating hazards that everyone who is on the open market swiping around should know about.
The most common and oddly named hazard is kittenfishing.
What is kittenfishing?
Kittenfishing is so-named because it is essentially “catfishing lite.” Whereas catfishing is the practice of creating an entirely fake person to engage with someone while internet dating, kittenfishing is when a mobile date-seeker presents a version of themselves that does not come close to lining up with reality.
Very old or heavily edited photos, lies about height or background, and “farming out” conversations to others are all elements of kittenfishing, according to an article from dating app (and purported authority on the topic) Hinge.
A survey Hinge conducted of this phenomena revealed the scope of kittenfishing (38 percent of men and 24 percent of women say they’ve been kittenfished) and the downright bizarre minutia that some perpetrators have falsified. Said one survey respondent: “The guy was married and didn’t look like any of his pictures. Also, hadn’t read any of the books or watched the films he was quoting!”
The Today Show's Health and Wellness blog recently posted a list of potential “kittenfishing red flags.” They include:
- There are a wide variety of photos from different time periods.
- The only photos are headshots: nothing from the waist up.
- Grammatical or other errors in their bio, i.e. they spelled it “Harvord”
- They used odd angles on all their photos.
The best way to ward off kittenfishing, beyond those red flags, is to talk to the potential match before going on a date. You can do this on the phone or on a brief Skype session.
While folks may still try to fake their way through some vocal communicating, it will at least break down some of the digital walls that are put up and encourage more honesty, which one Hinge survey respondent advocated for in dating: “If everyone was just honest, things would be a lot easier.”
You've heard about getting ghosted. Now you need to worry about "zombies."
Another hazard that the dating public needs to fear now is being “zombied.” Most everyone knows that to get “ghosted” is to have a romantic interest disappear from communication with no explanation as to why. Zombies are when someone who has ghosted you unexpectedly reappears in your life.
It’s usually via a small but deliberate method of social media or text communication—a random Instagram like, a Twitter retweet, or the more direct out-of-the-blue text message.
While the zombie is usually someone who inexplicably disappeared from your life after a handful of dates and communiques, there is the even more dreaded “zombie ex.” A zombie ex is an ex that you have decided to cut off interaction with by your own accord. You’ve eliminated communication with this person for quite some time and then, like a lumbering creature out of a George A. Romero movie, they appear back in your life.
The grim terminology is a defense mechanism of sorts says blogger Sophia Kercher: “A way to minimize the vulnerability that comes from being in and out of touch, whether online or not is to give it a name. Simply announcing to your friends 'I’ve been zombie’d,' offers some relief.”
Even if you gave up organized sports years ago, you could still get "benched."
While a number of people have experienced ghosting, it's likely many more have been the victim of a “benching.”
Also known as “bread-crumbing,” benching is the 21st-century equivalent of stringing someone along to keep your options open even if you not are currently interested. Benching is an often coordinated and calculated method of texting that offers an interested party just enough interaction to not upset them but ultimately no substantive back-and-forth or concrete plans.
As Jason Chen of New York Magazine writes: “Part of what makes benching so attractive is its plausible deniability. In a city where you can run into the guy who Gchat-dumped you or the jerk who ghosted after two months of dating, benching passes the sidewalk-run-in test exquisitely.”
Benching offers a cozy buffer zone of effort and sincerity for the person doing the benching. For them, the positive intentions are there but some nebulous outside forces—“Work! Been traveling! The holidays are so busy!”—are the true saboteurs of any potential forward progress on a relationship. Benching is the “Cover me!” moment in the action movie of dating.
For the “benchee,” there is usually (hopefully) a level of self-awareness or complicity. The interest level in the benching party is often high enough that those on the bench are willing to suffer the minor indignities of postponed plans or two-day-late text responses.
After all, the beauty of benching is that it allows everyone involved to save face in our weird world of digital manners. And is it really all that bad to spend some time patiently waiting on the bench if it means you have a shot at your dream crush?
And hey, you know who else used to spend a lot of time on the bench? Tom Brady.
We're not talking about basketball shots. This is the "slow fade."
The slow fade is a sometimes-controversial hybrid between benching and ghosting. While it doesn't carry the “dropped off the face of the earth” shock of a ghosting, it has none of the carrot-dangling and hints of interest of benching. The show fade is a protracted but deliberate communication fade-out.
One blogger for xoJane railed against the slow-fade: “If you’re not interested in me, please, for the love of god, just say so. And if we hook up but you have no intention of ever seeing me again, don’t pretend you do.”
She argues that the slow fade is every bit as frustrating to deal with as being ghosted and begs, as many in this digital age do, for a clear message of non-interest.
But at Slate, a writer made a legitimate argument for the slow-fade—“When it comes to modern digital relationships, the rhythm of the exchange tells us as much as its literal content, and it doesn’t take any specialized skill to read between the lines.”
The point being that, in 2017, text and internet dating is nothing new: anyone participating should know that getting only getting three responses over five weeks of messaging is a clear indication of a lack of interest.
The dating terms cup runneth over.
Beyond these hazards and practices, there’s even more dating terminology that is useful to know if you find yourself marching through the Tinderlands, Bumbling around, or browsing through the OKCupidopedia.
Defining the Relationship: This is the highly anticipated/dreaded moment when both parties who have been dating take their feelings to the relationship laboratory and try to categorize them like a phylum chordata. “Are we exclusive? Where do you see this going? Do you even possess a notochord?”
Make it Online Official: It can come as a direct result of a DTR discussion. It is a declaration to the digital network of former colleagues, nosy aunts, and old high school classmates of a relationship status that most of your close friends have already known about for months.
Shipping: a slang term for being supportive of a relationship. Originally used for voicing support of celebrity pairings, it now applies to being a cheerleader for friends’ relationships. Originally, shipping was known as “being a supportive friend who cares about the happiness of others.”
Cuffing Season: a frenzied relationship version of the NFL Draft or TV Pilot Casting Season. It is the (sometimes) frantic search for a relationship partner in the autumn months so that you have someone to cuddle up and order take-out with during the long, cold days of winter.
The point is to cuff yourself to someone for a few months when the dating market is supposedly in a slowdown. Whether or not you want to use actual handcuffs can be covered in your DTR talk.