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Understanding Teenage Relationships: Teen Relationship Slang

For anyone who has accused a teen of having a limited vocabulary, consider the effort that has gone into coming up with an entire glossary around the teenage love scene. Here, the most important to help you stay in the loop with teen relationship lingo.

Breaking Down Relationship Slang:


Leave it to the teens to take the act of chatting and turn it into the meaningful, agonizing, and obsessive first stages of a relationship. Is your teen “talking” to a person of interest? They’re not just swapping homework tips or musing about the weather. They’re probably checking their phone every 30 seconds to see if said person has texted them back, if that text included a smiley face, and if that person wanted to hang out later that weekend. It’s essentially dating slang for flirting.

Hooking up:

By far, the phenomenon of “hooking up” is the most prominent phrase in the teen circle. These two words are all-encompassing and utterly vague, much to the dismay of curious parents. This can mean anything from first base to a home run (for those who miss the good old days of baseball metaphors). It generally refers to a couple that is in the early stages of modern-day courtship. Important to note is that the art of “hooking up” doesn’t immediately correlate to “dating” in the traditional sense. Two people that are hooking up don’t often go on dates or hang out as a couple in public spaces.


These letters stand for the pivotal moment when two decide to “define the relationship.” Sometimes it can be used ironically, to make this moment seem a little lighter and noncommittal. But taking the time to go from “seeing each other” to “boyfriend and girlfriend” calls for a discussion.


It’s a step below boyfriend and girlfriend, but a step above hooking up. Exclusive is the commitment that two are only “seeing” or “with” each other. By labeling it “exclusive,” they avoid the seriousness of relationship labels but have to definitively take themselves off the market.

Facebook Official:

Thanks to the age of social media, relationships are put into the spotlight of the computer screen when a couple decides to take the leap from casual to serious. In an age where people are slow to “go steady,” making it “Facebook Official” is probably the 2014 equivalent of “getting pinned” or wearing your boyfriend’s letterman jacket.

Don’t stress if you can’t keep track of the intricacies of the teenage dictionary. Chances are, there will be new dating lingo before you know it.

Samantha Zabell just graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism.

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