Ghosting, Orbiting, Breadcrumbing, and Other Modern Relationship Terms Explained

couple-fight-break-up-recrop
PeopleImages/Getty Images

Ghosting, orbiting, Draking (yes, like the rapper) are new digital-age relationship phrases redefining how we fall in and out of love.

We long for the days of a good old-fashioned, in-person dumping, but social media and smartphones have changed the way we court. This glossary of modern relationship terms may will help define certain behaviors, such as why a romantic interest leaves you on “read” or an ex keeps liking your photos.

Ghosting

Ghosting is the act of abruptly — and seemingly without reason — stopping all communication within a romantic relationship that has built momentum. The ghoster withdraws, ignoring the other person and ceasing all contact. Used as a common method of ending a courtship in the digital age, ghosting provides no explanation to the other person for the withdrawal from the relationship (even if it’s not an official partnership). Some psychologists believe ghosting is a form of emotional cruelty and deepens feelings of abandonment and desertion. Just break up with someone the right way.

Haunting

After someone has ghosted, they may decide to haunt, aka suddenly pop back up in the other person’s life, once again without warning or explanation. Haunting is only made possible by social media, as it does not involve direct communication via call or text. Instead, haunters will like an Instagram photo or connect via LinkedIn after a long period of ghosting. They haunt the peripherals of your life, making veiled efforts to connect and remind you of their presence, but the reason for their sudden reemergence remains a mystery.

phone social media apps
Benjamin Sow

Submarining

Similar to haunting, submarining also occurs after a romantic interest has ghosted. Following a long bout of no contact, they will resurface — like a submarine — and act as if nothing has changed from the last point of connection preceding the ghosting. The submariner does not offer an apology or acknowledge ghosting in the first place.

Zombieing

The final term (so far) in the ghosting category, a zombie is someone who ghosted and waits for a long period of time until the other person in the old relationship has moved on, only to come back to life and try to reengage a connection. The zombie will appear as sweet and emotionally available as they once were, but are only, for this purpose, the reanimated dead. A zombie will either ignore their initial ghosting completely or act as if it wasn’t intentional and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Orbiting

Increasingly, pure ghosting has taken a backseat to orbiting, the act of stopping direct communication and engagement but continuing to monitor your social media presence. The New York Times says the term was coined by Anna Iovine in an article for Man Repeller in which she explained the prominent situation of an ex or past romantic interest watching your social media, or orbiting you without making contact. “Close enough to see each other; far enough to never talk,” Iovine writes. As they do with ghosting, professionals assert that orbiting is unhealthy for both parties.

man sad phone social media
Courtney Clayton

Draking

It’s widely discussed how the rapper Drake is constantly melancholic due to unrequited love or failed relationships. There are entire articles and social media accounts dedicated to Drake Looking Sad. In relationship terms, Draking is the act of being depressed and moaning about a past relationship. Draking is largely specific to men who have experienced turmoil with a love interest and are emotionally Drake-d from it, continuing to miss their ex-flame.

Breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing is a dating term pulled from the old German fairytale, “Hansel and Gretel.” It describes the practice of leaving proverbial breadcrumbs for someone who is interested in you romantically via occasional texts, calls, and social media likes, giving just enough attention and engagement to keep you interested yet unsatisfied. In other words, to breadcrumb is to string someone along without the intent to consider a real relationship. A breadcrumber will play games, avoid words and gestures of genuine feeling, and never fully commit or “give the whole loaf.”

Cushioning

Cushioning is a precautionary exchange between two people when one is in a relationship and the other is not. With some minimal underlying flirtation, both people remain in contact in the event that the person in the relationship breaks up and the other will be there to cushion the fall.

couple dating date situation
Matt W. Newman

Benching

When a player is on the bench, they are eager to be called up to play. In modern relationships, benching is keeping a romantic interest on the back burner, feeding them the promise of one day starting them or at least giving them some play time. Benching can occur when one person is ready for a relationship and the other is not, but does not want to end things entirely. That being said, benching can also mean the “coach” has a lineup of other players with the intent to keep a full team at their disposal. Benching usually involves some breadcrumbing.

Situationship

When two people enter a form of a romantic relationship due to their circumstances or situations, as opposed to whole-hearted interest in each other as individuals, you have a situationship. A situationship can arise due to living proximity, the season, and effort (or lack thereof). A situationship by nature has an expiration date that aligns with the end of your situation. Cuffing, for instance, can lead to a situationship.

The Slow Fade

If ghosting is a relationship guillotine, the slow fade is dating death by poison. Despite being drawn out over time, the slow fade is a move that involves one member of the relationship pulling back and removing themselves with intentional slowness so as to slip away without a sudden, jarring exit. This move is common for a less committed relationship, where the slow fader has realized they do not want to further the connection and begins to recede.

Grooming

The Lawn Mower 2.0 is the Below-the-Belt Trimmer for All Your Manscaping Needs

There's no shame in having a well-maintained and well-groomed undercarriage.
Outdoors

How to Build an Apocalypse-Worthy Bug-Out Bag

Outrunning the zombies is only part of the equation. You still need the right gear to survive.
Food & Drink

Understanding the Cult of Pliny the Elder Beer and Why People Can’t Get Enough

Ever wonder what makes a hard-to-find beer so hard to find?
Auto

Everything You Need in Your Car Emergency Kit

Having a few essentials in the car can help save your life — or someone else's — if you run into trouble on remote roads.
Culture

20 Best Action Movies on Netflix Right Now

You know what really gets our blood pumping? A great action flick. Fight scenes, chase scenes, race scenes — all the hallmarks of a cinematic adrenaline rush.
Culture

How to Netflix and Chill: Mastering the Invite, Finding the Best Shows, and More

Jean-Luc Godard famously said, “I always feel that a man and a woman who do not like the same films, will eventually divorce.” Applying his principle, Netflix and Chill becomes a logical means of getting to know someone.
Grooming

What is Biohacking? An Interview with Biohacker and Podcaster Luke Storey

If you’re into technology toys, biohacking offers a plethora of gadgets to geek out about.
Living

Calling All Game of Thrones Fans: This Print is the Ultimate GoT Artwork for Your Walls

No matter where you hang this piece of art, it's sure to be a conversation starter. 
Grooming

6 Natural Topical Pain Relief Products to Treat Your Aching Muscles

What’s the point in getting rid of the pain if you’re damaging your vital organs in the process?
Culture

The Grown-Up’s Guide to Everyday Carry Essentials for Cannabis

Unless you’re trying to make a lifestyle shift (and we’re guessing you’re not), you shouldn’t spend more on your smoking accessories than you do on the stuff you smoke.
Food & Drink

Pre-Workout Meals that Make the Most of Your Hard Work

While specific meals aren't critical for moderate exercise, if you're going for a long run, hitting the weights hard, doing intense interval training, or you're about to play a competitive sport, then pre-exercise foods matter a lot.
Culture

15 Coffee Table Books Every Man Should Consider for His Home

Don't have any coffee table books on your current coffee table? Let us help fix that lack of literature.
Culture

7 Fantastic Beach Reads for Your Next Vacation

From a harrowing tale of survival at sea to a classic by Steinbeck, we've got all the best beach reads in one place.
Culture

Build and Tone Your Muscles with the 10 Best Arm Workouts for Men

Start handing out your own tickets to the gun show with the best arm exercises for men