Swiping, Ghosting, Tinderella, and Phubbing: Relationships in the Age of Technology

In honor of launching our new podcast, Relationship Doctor, and his episode about three ways technology can ruin your relationships, I have the run-down on a few words related to online dating.

Swipe Right

First is “swipe right.” This phrase originally came from the dating app called Tinder because in the app, your swipe right on a profile to show you like that person. Your hottie isn’t notified that you’ve swiped right unless they have swiped right on you too, and then it’s a match. But unless you are both feeling good about each other, swiping right just tells the algorithm “I like this person” or maybe more generally “This is the kind of person I like; show me more like this.”

But “swipe right” has moved beyond dating both in apps and in real life, and people now use it more generally to say they like something. For example, you might see a hot fudge sundae and say, “I’d swipe right on that.” 

It’s not in the major serious dictionaries yet, but it’s been in Urban Dictionary since 2014.

Not surprisingly, “swipe left” means the opposite. You swipe left to say you’re not interested in someone on Tinder, and you can use “swipe left” as slang to say you don’t like something. 


Ghosting isn’t a new behavior, but technology makes it easier…or maybe harder.

Ghosting is when someone you’re dating cuts off communication and disappears, like a ghost. I got ghosted in college, but there wasn’t a verb for it back then. 

Today, when it’s so much easier to be in touch—when everyone is just a text message away—there’s really no denying that you’re being avoided. You can’t just say, “Maybe his roommate didn’t give him my message,” or “Maybe her answering machine is broken.” If someone is suddenly unavailable in every way, you’ve been ghosted.

The English word “ghost” is quite old and is one of the words that goes all the way back to Proto-Indo-European so has similar words in related language. We get the noun “ghost” from the Old English word “gast.” But according to Etymonline, it also existed in Old Saxon (“gest”), Old Frisian (“jest”), Middle Dutch (“gheest”), Dutch (“geest”), and German (“…

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  • August 20, 2019