A Parents’ Guide to Translating Millennial Dating Vernacular

The dating game has changed significantly over the generations.



Illustration by Dewey Saunders

Dating has changed a lot over the years, and the modern version of the classic game show is far from enviable. Millennials go about it in a whole different way. This change is indicative of the current social climate. 

After all, the divorce rate is hovering close to 50 percent. Poor examples, coupled with “unsocial” media, have conspired to generate this attitude. As such, today’s dating lingo begs translation. 

Talking. Texting a potential partner weeks before meeting. 

Ghosting. A phantom term that refers to terminating a relationship simply by fading away without formally declaring an end. In my day, if someone called and broke up over the phone, it was considered a low blow. Today’s dating doesn’t even warrant such courtesy. 

Netflix and chill. It means far more than watching a movie and hanging out. Trust me. You should’ve seen the look on the faces of my son and his girlfriend when I used this term after they announced plans to stream a movie on Netflix. Whoops. 

Tinder. This app is apparently the preferred method of millennials. Members upload pictures of themselves, along with a small bio—though “bio” is a loose term. Others see the pictures and either swipe right if interested or left if not. If both parties swipe right, their phones ding and they can “talk.”

Meeting people IRL (“in real life”) can be creepy to millennials. They like to know for certain that interest is mutual before any “talking”—much less “Netflix and chilling”—occurs. 

As someone who did it the old-fashioned way, I say, try a face-to-face conversation. It’s amazing how attractive someone who’s kind, respectful and loving can become when given the opportunity. At least, that’s this mom’s opinion. 

The mother of two sons, JoAnne Cannon comes by her millennial language skills through much trial and error. 

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