What is dicksand?: Some dating terms you should probably know

Back in the days when newspapers were inconveniently large and remarkably unwieldy, their back pages simmered gently with unrealized romantic desire, and there developed an acronymic dialect for those on the prowl.

GSOH was to delineate your “good sense of humour;” D stood for “divorced;” but the ambiguity over whether BHM meant “big handsome man” or “bald headed man” may have been what doomed the premise. With the acknowledgement of schadenfreude, it could be comforting to know that however gruesomely you’ve had your heart ground into the dirt recently, you’re not the first.

Below are some choice morsels from the online dating scene dialect. I can’t guarantee knowing them will get you a partner. I can’t even guarantee it’ll get you a date. But hopefully, weaving through the rush-hour crowds to a Tinder date on a stomach empty but for butterflies; your feet will feel less like hooves and your clothes less like wool; the eyes of the person you meet will glitter less hungrily; their teeth look a little smaller and all the worse to eat you with.

What I’m saying is that you may feel less like a lamb to the slaughter. Unless you’re into that.


The genesis of catfishing came, predictably, from the food distribution enterprise. When live cod were shipped long distance, the lack of competition in their tanks made them lethargic, which reduces the meat quality: a lazy fish is not a tasty fish. The addition of the nimble catfish, a natural cod predator, kept the cod zippy and delicious.

The term gained a finhold in Christian literature: Christianity was the metaphorical catfish, and its prey the corruptible soul of Man. The agile and noble beast held employment in nipping at the heels of one’s soul, to keep it out of trouble and get it into Heaven. While your soul is still the quarry, the once practical, next theological, now pernicious activity of catfishing is long since departed from its lofty beginnings.

The modern catfish is the human reclining comfortably in their mother’s basement, licking a delicate frosting of Cheeto dust off their fingers, enticing suitors with photos, a bio and conversation of the highest order. All is genuine, but none is genuinely them: they have scraped it all from the depths of the internet’s fish tank and they are using it to reel you in.

So you agree to a date.

Online they exuded kindness, but in person they’re rude to the waiter. The designer wallet they bragged about so much is actually a kid’s velcro wallet. And their four-wheel drive is actually a micro scooter with stabilizers. You steal it and scoot as fast as you can in the opposite direction.


As someone who has been both the ghost and the ghosted recently, I feel qualified to say that this term is not at all related to the painfully cute dancing Snapchat ghost.

As necessary as it is brutal, it refers to when the apple of your eye — sweet, crunchy and delicious — has become the crabapple to your eye. You’ve got the ick factor and everything they do repulses you. If they send one more heart-eyed cat emoji, you’re going to vomit. And nobody — but nobody — should turn the heart-eyed cat emoji into something you don’t want to see.

So you cease all contact.

As the purest ghost, you block and delete them from every social media and contact platform, leaving them wondering whether you ever truly existed at all. And just like that — pouff — you are gone, free to dangle your silken thread over the next hapless victim.

Or, if the roles are reversed — pouff — they are gone, leaving you to mope and wail and wonder what you did wrong, wandering lost in your garden of increasingly wild hypotheses.


Receiving its name from the previous entry, haunting is the return of a previous flame from the depths of the sin bin to which they had been confined. The key to a successful haunting is to make it maximally noncommittal. The saying goes that nothing ventured, nothing gained, but a haunter goes by the epithet that you can’t really be shot down if you never properly put yourself out there. So it didn’t work out before, but here comes the haunter liking a selfie or faving a status in order to open up the channels of communication. Don’t get your emotional hopes up, since the most likely outcome is a booty call.


Also known as “left on read,” an r-bomb is when you know your message has been read but a response is nowhere to be seen. Notwithstanding extenuating circumstances, if it’s been anything over an hour, you’ve been r-bombed — but that’s not necessarily a death knell for your budding relationship.

As a wise meme once said, “sorry I didn’t reply to your message. I waited a bit because I was trying to be cool, but then I forgot about it.”


Popularized by Olivia in Love Island, a weakness for dicksand is an attraction some people (okay, guilty) have towards, perhaps, not the kindest of suitors. If someone’s arrogance is exceeded only by the gaping chasm in their heart where their human compassion should be, but you’re accidentally into it anyway, you’re deep in the dicksand with little to no chance of survival. The whistling winds of loneliness, tumbleweeds and a shaking of your self-assurance to its core are also on the menu.


Drinks? Check.

Went home with someone? Check.

Leaving their place in the morning with a hangover that threatens to reduce you to tears if you are exposed to anything more emotionally taxing than buying a bus ticket? Check.

Now all you need is a little something from your conquest and you’ll have the golden quartet. To be clear, I’m not endorsing theft because that is a CRIME. But maybe last night’s outfit did its thing last night, and you’re not keen on wearing it home. Maybe you’d like a hat to cover the monstrosity that is your hair. And maybe Chad’s kind of a dick and you don’t really plan on giving it back.

Like a souvenir, but saucier. A screwvenir.


Thirsting for attention. This special, mystical thirst can only be quenched by a like-flood or a message-tsunami. Avoid dicksand as this is likely to exacerbate the problem.


A proclivity of the thirsty — this happens more accidentally than purposefully. Say you’ve matched with someone on Tinder. You’ve carefully conducted the conversation round to surnames, extracted theirs and found their Facebook. Their privacy settings aren’t the best, and before you know it, you’re 49 photos deep in their 2002 album of a trip to Burma with their brother (guilty).

Record scratch: touchscreen glitch. You’ve liked a photo. They’re definitely going to stop talking to you and they may well call the police. And you know what? You deserve it, you big creeper.


A not-so-subtle nod to Canada’s sulkiest artist, to drake is to wallow in self-pity after romantic rejection. Someone used to hit you up late at night, but you moved away and now you’ve heard they’ve been wearing less and going out more, popping champagne on the dance floor and so on? And instead of being pumped for them — like, damn, that sounds fun. Maybe I’ll give them a call — you’re whining about it in public. Your self-respect has gone to the same place their frumpy clothes all went? Draking.

Netflix & Chill

I refuse to define this on the moral grounds that anyone who has avoided knowing its meaning until now must really not want to know what it means. And who am I to shine the blinding Laser of Enlightenment into their dank, wet cave?