8 modern-day dating terms you need to know

Shashi Tharoor's World of Words is a weekly column dissecting language

By Shashi Tharoor

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Published: Thu 6 Apr 2023, 3:03 PM

I tend to pride myself on a fairly extensive vocabulary, but the opening paragraph of a recent article in an Indian newspaper left me completely flummoxed, with its use of words and expressions I found incomprehensible. The Valentine’s Day feature article about romance, from the New Indian Express, began with this paragraph:

“Aastha Chowdhury, a 24-year-old budding lawyer from Dehradun, has had a rainbow dating trajectory over the past couple of years. Two years ago, emerging from a disastrous, emotionally abusive relationship, … she experienced a dating renaissance by downloading a plethora of dating apps for the first time. Keeping her mind open to possibilities, she began open-casting through a buffet of options; went on numerous first dates, and several secondary ones, and enjoyed memorable interactions … (dry dating helped her stick with her rule of ethical exploration). Having gained coronesty from her previous experience, however, she kept her guardrails up against potential emotional entanglements…. She also kept a check on her expenditure, aware of the rules of infla-dating as well as the fact that this phase of wanderlove wouldn’t last forever.”

That one para included eight expressions I hadn’t encountered before, and though you could guess the meanings of some of them, others were genuinely puzzling. The ones that lent themselves to reasonable surmise were “dating renaissance”, since the latter word implies a “revival” of dating, “guardrails” and “infla-dating”, which seemed to combine inflation and dating. But puzzling over the rest, I began to realise the romantically-inclined young of today had developed a vocabulary of their own that I had no clue about.

So I must confess, unashamedly, that I looked them all up. Where Google wasn’t much help, I had to turn to ChatGPT. (Since my own intelligence wasn’t up to the task, maybe Artificial Intelligence could explain it to me!) Here the new-fangled expressions are, in order of appearance:

•“rainbow dating”: According to ChatGPT: “The term "rainbow dating" typically refers to a romantic relationship between individuals from different racial or ethnic backgrounds. The word "rainbow" is often used to symbolize diversity, and in this context, it highlights the different colours of the racial and ethnic spectrum. Rainbow dating is a way of celebrating and embracing diversity, as well as breaking down cultural barriers and promoting inclusivity. The term can also be used to describe friendships or social interactions that cross racial or ethnic lines.”

•“dating renaissance”: My guess was close enough. It means “giving love another chance after failures”.

•“open-casting”: The phrase exists in the world of movies: when a producer issues a call for “open-casting”, that means they’re holding an open audition, so aspiring actors don't need an invitation but can instead drop by on the designated date and time (along with dozens of other hopefuls) for the chance of being selected for the cast. In the world of romance, however, it seems “open-casting” translates to “dating someone outside your type”. Go figure.

•“dry dating”: This is the term for refusing to consume alcohol on a date. Staying sober, in other words, so that your judgement about your date isn’t impaired.

•“coronesty”: Now there’s a word that sounds like a surgical procedure! But it apparently has nothing to do with either your coronary artery or an angioplasty. The word “coronesty”, says the UK website Metro, “describes the increased desire for people to be honest with others – and crucially, themselves – about what they really want from a relationship.” Apparently both the word and the practice emerged from people’s experiences during the coronavirus pandemic, hence the “coron” part of the word.

•“kept her guardrails up”: daters who practice “guardrailing” prioritize their own needs over those of their partner.

•“infla-dating”: I wasn’t wrong in guessing what this meant. It relates to keeping a check on your expenditure on a date because you’re conscious of rising inflation.

•“wanderlove”: Suggested by the term “wanderlust”, which means an urge to travel, “wanderlove” describes inter-city romances which require people to travel for a date.

Phew! I had no idea the young needed an entire new vocabulary for their love-life! And there’s more, alas: potential daters who practice “breadcrumbing” string you along, apparently, with no intention of actually dating you….

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