A Beginner’s Guide to Gen Z Dating (2022) Defining “situationships” and “cuffing szn” while inquiring: do younger people still subscribe to hookup culture overall?

Gen Z: A Younger Generation With Surprisingly Traditional Perspectives on Relationships

Gone are the days that young men show up on doorsteps, equipped with a bouquet of flowers for their date and a firm handshake for the father. These picturesque approaches to romance that many preceding generations were accustomed to decades ago seem to have fallen by the wayside. Now, relationships are largely catalyzed online, the term “going steady” has been forgotten, and younger individuals are exposed to an endless pool of potential matches.

With all that being said, it is fascinating to truly analyze what makes up the Generation Z dating landscape, and even more interesting to dissect the colloquial terms that encompass it all. It is surprising to learn that Generation Z, though their strategies are wildly different than those of the Boomers and Gen X, hold romance and relationships to be just as sacred as ever before.

Love, as we all know, can be complicated. This guide will seek to clear it all up. What are your thoughts on the topic? Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our award-winning weekly newsletter where we apply our generational knowledge to a multitude of engaging topics!

Gen Z on Hookup Culture in a Post-Pandemic World

Before COVID, Generation Z enjoyed casual hookups and encounters. Younger people felt no stress or pressure to “settle down” or see one person exclusively. During this time, hookup apps like Tinder and Grindr gained immense popularity, connecting young people to thousands of potential matches at their fingertips. Instant gratification was the name of the game.

For nearly two years starting in early 2020, though, dating patterns for younger people were completely turned upside down. Bars were no longer open for a quick first-date drink. Parties where young singles would normally interact were not being held. Social anxiety was being reported at an all-time high.

Fast-forwarding to the present day showcases how quickly Gen Z’s dating preferences can (and continue to) change. According to various studies, dating app users are now moving past hookup culture, and COVID had a lot to do with that. Regardless of the trials and tribulations that accompanied the time period, many young people grew (emotionally and mentally) immensely during lockdowns, reflecting on their habits and the benefits or shortcomings of their own relationships. Generation Z, today, yearns to make up for lost time during those long months by chasing meaningful connections and defined relationships, as opposed to flings and one-night-stands.

Gen Z Relationship Slang, Defined

There is little question that the members of Generation Z have no issues with applying words to the unique challenges and experiences the generational community faces on a daily basis. This concept is especially evident in their dictionary for relationship statuses. Let’s break a few of them down:

Situationship: This term describes a relationship that is more than a friendship, but less than a labeled and committed relationship. Usually, the parties to the situationship enjoy spending lots of time together, and most of their peers are generally aware of the tie between them. However, a situationship is often defined by the fact that either both people (best case scenario) or one person (reality) is not interested in the other enough to make things “official”.

Cuffing Szn: This term is associated with the colder months of fall and winter, and serves as the succinct title for what could verbosely be described as “the time where you feverishly find and lock down a temporary relationship to get cozy with and snuggle during the chilly weather”. Social media personalities have attributed this phenomenon to the pleasant thought of having someone to participate in cool-weather activities with, including pumpkin patches, ice skating, etc. Cuffing szn ends as fast as it starts, and many individuals ditch these short-term relationships to have a little fun in the spring and summertime.

Ghosting: While this piece of lingo can be used outside of relationship scenarios, it hits the hardest when it happens with someone you are romantically interested in. Ghosting is the act of one person completely falling off the grid when another person is trying to contact them. Example: you just went on a date with someone from Hinge, texted them the next morning to try to make plans again, and never heard from them again. You got ghosted, baby.

Simp/Simping: This term has been used by younger generations as a (definitively annoying) name for someone (usually a man) who is seen as “too submissive” to their partner, or someone who is willing and eager to serve the opposite sex for attention or love. Young men in the Gen Z community have been known to throw this term at their friends or peers often, which has obviously led to strains in relationships and insecurities all around.

Gen Z Puts Their Happiness First

One defining facet of Generation Z and their search for love is their ability to be in tune with their own emotions and mental health. We know that the younger generations experience and then effectively deal with a robust portfolio of issues, but the positive side to that fact is that they are willing to work on themselves before diving into a committed relationship.

Generation Z is a group that prioritizes self-care, and thanks to social media, self-help books and motivational podcasts, they have the tools to do just that. Similarly, younger generations are interested in growing and deepening their relationships with others, but at the same time: they aren’t afraid to cut toxic people out of their lives. This balance allows the younger generations to find their “person”, and while it may not be easy, it definitely seems to be fulfilling.


Times change and generational trends shift, but human connection is still at the center of everything we do as humans. Regardless of how technology has shaped and influenced the younger generations’ (like Gen Z and the Millennials)  modes of operation, it is important to remember that every journey and accompanying set of circumstances is vastly different.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Have you heard some of the Gen-Z relationship slang terms before? How do these new approaches to dating compare to your own? We are eager to hear your thoughts, and encourage you to subscribe to the Generational Bridge’s weekly email newsletter. We’ll see you in the next one!

Related Guides

Let’s face it: anxiety is real, can be debilitating, and on top of that, it’s an incredibly nuanced concept…for everyone. Admittedly, the stressors and pressures the various generations face could not be more different, but one thing remains; mental health is a topic that everyone can benefit from discussing. Anxiety is much more common than we may think, and generational perspectives on mental health have widely shifted to fit the times.

The Single BEST (and FREE!) Newsletter You'll Read All Week 🔥🦄