Male Call: Terms of Non-Endearment


Click to read more about James Roberts.

 By James Roberts

There’s no question that the dating industry—and by dating industry we mean both online dating sites as well as coaching services—is big business. According to Judi Schindler, author of Husbands: An Owner’s Manual and the blog, “The Toilet Seat Must Come Down, it’s forecast to reach $3.2 billion by next year.

And, apparently “dating coach” is one of the hot new careers of the 21st century.

Frankly, and with all due respect to coaches everywhere, the Male Call Advisory Board™ can’t see that such coaching is of much use. Yes, a good advisor can help you fix your out-of-focus, group-shots-with-your-besties and (yes, sadly) upside-down pictures. Your sloppy spelling. Your “love to laugh” and “no drama” clichés. But they can’t…ahem…fix you. Not that you need fixing but if someone tarts you up like a prom pic, you’re going to disappoint when your date sees the un-prom’d IRL (see below) version.

With that in mind, we’re providing the next best thing: explanations of the new terminology that is making your online love life miserable.

We’ve gathered these from a variety of sources including the aforementioned Schindler, the Dateable podcast, Macmillan Dictionary and the Board’s own fevered observations.

  • Breadcrumbing: sending messages, “digital morsels,” that suggest they’re still interested in you when in fact they’re unlikely to want to meet. Remember Hansel & Gretel? (Spoiler alert: the birds ate the crumbs leaving the kids lost in the woods).
  • Benching: like the previous but usually occurs after an actual meeting— when they don’t really want to date seriously but just “keep you on the bench” for emergencies.
  • Ghosting: Suddenly disappearing and not responding after a few dates in hopes you’ll get the hint. Similar to the “slow fade” or “drizzle.”
  • Daterview: a series of seemingly prepared questions designed to “get your resume” (a la TV’s Survivor) to determine if you’re dateable. In short, a job interview.
  • IRL: in real life…where you waste time when you’re not online tweeting and Instagramming.
  • Text black hole: a never-ending text conversation with someone you meet online but never meet IRL.
  • Catfishing: Popularized by the MTV show, a “catfish” creates fake personal profiles on social media sites to trick an unsuspecting person (the hopeful) into some scheme. This could range from getting you to fall in love with them to simply amusing themselves. The term reportedly comes from Alaska fishing companies’ practice of shipping codfish in big vats across the ocean and, to prevent spoilage, putting some catfish in with them to keep the cod agile.

And our favorite (because we just made it up)…

  • Drama: stuff you have in your life but they don’t, because theirs is “adventure”…or being a “partner in crime.”

Need a guy’s perspective? Jot a note to Male Call at For more words, ideas and whimsy, visit

Photo by California Historical Society Digital Collection on

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