In a New York Times article titled "The End of Courtship," social media manager Shani Silver says, "The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary... dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret."
She isn't the first to claim that the language we use to describe romantic relationships hasn't quite caught up with today's dating (or texting) culture. For example, there's no proper word to describe a couple that lives together for years, with no plans of marrying or having kids ("partner" is too formal; "lover" harkens a cheesy, mustached man in a hot tub).
The verbal distinctions for newly blossoming relationships are even more vague and hazy. Are you hooking up, hanging out, or seeing each other? Is there really even a difference? For clarity's sake, perhaps we should revisit a time when dating, and the language used to describe it, made a little more sense. Here are 11 dating terms/phrases from the 50s, and their modern-day interpretations:
What it used to mean: Pursuing another person romantically, often by taking her on dates to dinner, the movies, and other such outings.
What it means now: Texting a romantic interest, "Hey," on a Friday night at like, 9 PM.
2. Going steady
What it used to mean: The next step beyond the courting phase; you're now taking another person on dates exclusively.
What it means now: Texting a romantic interest, "Hey, what are you up to this weekend?" several Thursdays in a row.
What it used to mean: A person you've been "going steady" with for a while - this is a term of endearment for a significant other.
What it means now: You have a work holiday thing, and plus ones are encouraged. This person would likely be offended if you brought someone else instead of them, so you nervously mention it in passing while "grabbing drinks" at a bar.
4. Dear John letter
What it used to mean: A break-up letter. The phrase originally referred to letters sent to soldiers from their disenchanted significant others.
What it means now: (Sent via Gchat): "Hey, I'm sorry I couldn't tell you this in person, but, you know, we were just hooking up, and now I'm hanging out with Linda." "Yeah, the one from OkCupid."
5. Getting pinned
What it used to mean: A young man gives his school pin to his beau. It's sort of like wearing your significant other's letter jacket. Basically, it's very serious.
What it means now: FACEBOOK OFFICIAL!
6. Little black book
What it used to mean: A book of names and phone numbers, often used when a person is lonely or recently single.
What it means now: Tinder.
What it used to mean: You're interested in someone as more than a friend; you've developed a bit of a crush.
What it means now: You kind of want to add him or her on Snapchat, if only to see who his or her top friends are. It's all so new and mysterious - who could he or she possibly be Snapchatting?!
8. Carry a torch
What it used to mean: To harbor feelings for someone, especially a person who doesn't reciprocate your feelings; this phrase refers to slightly more developed feelings than, say, a crush. You're a little more than "keen."
What it means now: You've definitely Googled this person, and nothing too shady came up, aside from some poorly-written articles penned for their college newspaper. No big deal, though. You'd still grab drinks with them.
What it used to mean: An insincere compliment or other form of flattery.
What it means now: The tactics used by that guy. You know the one - he is so lazy that he copy and pastes the exact same OkCupid message to about 20 different people: "Hi. You have a great smile."
10. Necking/Back seat bingo
What it used to mean: Kissing, in all of its various forms and locations (namely, on the neck, in the back seat of a parked car).
What it means now: Hooking up.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article failed to acknowledge that "carry a torch" is an expression that typically refers to unrequited feelings.