Dating Vocabulary and Expressions
Learning vocabulary in context increases your ability to remember words.
Learning words in context will help you remember them better than memorizing random lists of words. Those lists of TOEIC words might help you ace the test, but they won’t become part of your working vocabulary (words you know and can use) unless they are meaningful and useful for communication.
Learning words that are meaningful and useful to you personally is highly beneficial.
If, like me, you’re no spring chicken and past the dating stage of your life, this particular vocabulary might not interest you much unless you happen to be back on the dating scene.
Of course, you may also hear this vocabulary if you watch American TV shows and movies, so feel free to stick around (stay/remain) and keep reading!
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If you’re looking for other idioms in context, check out the course I recommend: 300 English Idioms in 30 Days.
If you’re looking for phrasal verbs related to romantic relationships, check out this free sample lesson from Espresso English. It includes audio, transcript, a phrasal verb list and a quiz.
Dating Vocabulary in Context
When learning a language, it helps to learn vocabulary that is meaningful and relevant to your life. If you have an opportunity to put the new vocabulary into use, even better! If you find yourself on the international dating scene, this vocabulary may come in handy (be useful).
Let’s look at some common dating vocabulary and expressions in a natural conversation. The words in blue are explained below the conversation.
Hailee: Hey Sophie, it’s been a few months since you and Tye broke up. There’s this guy Joe that I really think you would hit it off with.
Sophie: I don’t know if I’m ready to get back in the game yet.
Hailee: Okay, but before you say no, let me tell you about him. He’s totally your type, and I’d love to fix you up.
Now, let’s look at the meaning of these dating words and expressions.
- to break up/to split up (with someone): to end a romantic relationship
- She broke up with her boyfriend because he cheated on her.
- to hit it off: to be friendly and get along instantly
- They totally hit it off!
- to get back in the game: to start again after not doing something for some time
- He hasn’t dated in over a year, so I told him to get back in the game and ask her out.
- one’s type: a person who has qualities that one likes
- He’s totally her type.
- to set/fix someone up: to arrange a date between two people who don’t know each other
- After she turned him down, I fixed him up with one of my friends.
- to fall for someone: to start to be in love with someone
- She fell for him on their first date.
- to be seeing someone: to be dating someone
- I started seeing someone else.
- to be an item: to be in a relationship
- We’ve been an item for about 3 months.
- to cheat on someone: to be unfaithful (for example, by kissing someone else)
- My boyfriend cheated on me.
- to get (back) together: to start dating someone (again)
- He said he was sorry and that he would never cheat again. We got back together, but I don’t know if it’s going to last.
More Dating Vocabulary
- to ask someone out: to invite someone on a date
- He mustered up the courage to ask her out.
- to get shot down: to get rejected
- He asked her out, but she shot him down.
- to turn someone down: to say no to someone’s offer of going on a date
- He asked her out, but she turned him down.
- friend zone: when someone you are romantically interested in only sees you as a friend, you are in the friend zone
- He waited too long to ask her out and ended up in the friend zone.
- to go on a blind date: to go on a date with someone you’ve never met before
- I’ve gone on a few blind dates, but there was never any chemistry.
- chemistry: a strong mutual attraction
- In my experience, if there’s no chemistry, the relationship isn’t going to last.
- to have/to go on a date: to meet someone you are interested in romantically or to meet your boyfriend/girlfriend
- They had their second date last weekend.
- They went on their second date last weekend.
- a double date: a date with two couples
- We’re going on a double date with them next weekend.
- to flirt: to playfully show interest in someone
- Our double date was a disaster! My date was flirting with my friend all night!
- to get along (with someone): to like and be friendly (with someone)
- We get along well, but he’s a cheater, so I broke up with him.
- to date exclusively/to be exclusive: to be committed to dating only each other, to be monogamous
- We have decided to be exclusive.
Falling in (and out of) Love
- to have a crush (on someone)/to have a thing for (someone): to like someone romantically, usually without them knowing
- He has had a crush on her for a year.
- He has had a thing for her for a year.
- love at first sight: when you fall for someone the moment you see them
- It was love at first sight.
- to be in love (with someone): to love someone very much in a romantic way
- After 14 years together, they are still very much in love.
- lovebirds: two people who are obviously very much in love with each other
- If you two lovebirds could give us your attention for a moment, we’d like to ask your opinion about something.
- to dump someone: to end a romantic relationship
- I think I need to break up with my boyfriend.
- I’m definitely going to dump him.
- on and off again/on-again, off-again: when you date, break up, and get back together repeatedly
- We’ve been on and off again for about a year.
- there are plenty of fish in the sea: there are lots of potential mates in the world (usually said to console someone who has recently gone through a breakup)
- After breaking up with my girlfriend, my friends reminded me that there were plenty of fish in the sea.
- long-distance relationship (LDR): a romantic relationship between people who live far apart/are geographically separated from one another
- We were in a long-distance relationship for the first 3 years of our 15 years together.
Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships by my affiliate, Espresso English
Common Mistakes to Avoid
I’m not sure how common these mistakes are outside of Korea, but these are common mistakes I hear my Korean students make.
Don’t say: Say:
x lover o boyfriend/girlfriend
x make a bf/gf o find/get a boyfriend/girlfriend
x meeting o date
Why you shouldn’t say lover if you mean boyfriend or girlfriend
While lover is a word in English, it has a different connotation than boyfriend or girlfriend. Calling someone your lover focuses specifically on the sex. It is not the same as boyfriend and girlfriend despite those being listed as synonyms in online dictionaries. Native English speakers use and associate the word lover with having sex and typically only use it when talking about illicit (illegal or disapproved of by society) or secret affairs.
Why you shouldn’t say make a boyfriend/girlfriend
English is confusing, isn’t it? We say make a friend, but we don’t say make a boyfriend/girlfriend. The reason lies mainly in collocations, which is the way native speakers use words together or the natural word combinations in a language. Because native speakers do not use make this way, if you say this, we will envision you creating a robot of Frankenstein type boyfriend or girlfriend. Collocations are one of the reasons it is so important to learn words in context and not in isolation.
Why you shouldn’t say meeting when you mean a date.
In English, we use meeting for business and work meetings that are usually mandatory, not for romantic “meetings.” We call those dates. If you say you have a meeting, we will think you mean a business or work meeting. Meeting is used professionally, not romantically.
Questions for Discussion
- Have you ever been on a blind date? If so, how did it go? If not, why not? Would you ever go on a blind date?
- What’s your type?
- What are the 3 most important qualities (related to personality, not appearance) in a boyfriend/girlfriend?
- Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
- Have you ever been set up or set someone up with someone? How did it go?
- Describe the best or worst date you’ve ever gone on. If you’ve never been on a date, describe your ideal first date.
- What are the best and worst ways to break up with someone?
- If you or the person you were dating were going to do their military service or were going to study abroad for 2 years, would you stay together or break up?
- What would cause you to break up with someone?
- In the U.S., it’s common for couples to live together before getting married. What are the pros and cons of living together before marriage?
Want more dating vocabulary?
Try Dating terms you need to know for 2018 by Business Insider to learn about flexting, cricketing, ghostbusting, serendipidating, and fauxbae-ing.
Want more idioms?
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If you want to learn more idioms, the best way is to learn them in context. Remember, learning idioms and vocabulary in context is the most effective way to really learn them correctly and to avoid mistakes like the ones above.
I recommend Espresso English’s course 300 English Idioms in 30 Days if you want to learn idioms in context. Don’t worry, you have permanent access to the course, so you can take longer than 30 days if you need to. The lessons follow an effective 3-step process. You can try a free sample here.
The awesome thing about the course is that in step 3, you can send your practice answers to the teacher, Shayna, and she will check them to make sure you understand the idioms and are using them correctly!
For more information about the course, including a video introduction, a description, a list of lessons, and answers to FAQs, visit the course overview.
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Never stop learning!