The Brief: Here’s a guide to some of the unique ways millennials Gen Zers date, and the words they are using to talk about it.


Talking to teens and tweens about dating can be like talking to a brick wall. Along with the awkwardness and secretiveness that may be involved, it’s difficult to keep up with dating-specific constantly-evolving terminology and slang.

  • DTR  is an acronym for “define the relationship.” It’s an important step for couples to get on the same page as to whether they’re dating, FWB’s – friends with benefits, or something else. It’s sort of the 2019 version of asking someone to go steady.
  • The Friend Zone refers to when one person in a friendship just wants to be friends while the other wants to date them. Although this can refer to a tragically awkward teen situation, the term is sometimes used to (incorrectly) suggest that the one friend is to blame for not having reciprocal feelings.
  • Hook Up is an intentionally vague word. It means that to engage in intimate and/or sexual activities with someone. It can refer to many things including making out or having sex.

Although young people may have more tools to communicate with each other, technology provides room for people to miscommunicate –– or even avoid each other.

  • Slide Into Your DM’s: To “slide into someone’s DM’s” means to send someone a direct message on social media, often in a flirtatious way. This typically occurs through Instagram or Twitter and can lead to relationships online and IRL – in real life.
  • Ghosting is when one person suddenly cuts off all communication, usually by not replying to messages or calls. Ghosting can occur outside of the dating realm, but often is a method used by people who want to end a relationship without having an awkward conversation.

Other dating-related slang is more straightforward, involving acronyms invented as shorthand for texting.

  • BF is an abbreviation for boyfriend. GF is an abbreviation for girlfriend.
  • BAE stands for “before anything else” and is a common nickname for a significant other.
  • Boo’d Up or booed up means to be in a romantic relationship.

Dating-related communications increasingly take place online, via text, and through social media, leading to unique phenomena and language. It can be tough to stay hip in this day and age but Stay Hipp’s got your back!