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The Daters' Dictionary

11 definitions to help you navigate the dating world

Man holding flowers behind back for his date, Dating terms in Dater's Dictionary

Blind date: An appointment that can kick off a grand adventure. — Andersen Ross/Blend Images/Getty Images

Want to know the true meaning of commonly used words in the dating arena? Read on. Dating expert/writer Nancy Davidoff Kelton reveals what's behind the standard definitions.

Get more dating tips in the AARP Leisure Newsletter. 

Date: an appointment to go out with another person.

Per Nancy: an appointment between two people that often leads to one or more of the following

  • a second appointment
  • a kiss
  • more than one kiss
  • more than mere kissing
  • ecstasy
  • misery
  • medication
  • phone calls to friends for sympathy
  • wedded bliss
  • a date with someone else

Blind date: an appointment between two people who have never met, arranged by a mutual acquaintance or through an online ad.

Per Nancy:
1. an appointment between two people during which it becomes clear that one or both were described with a pack of lies

2. an appointment dreaded more deeply than public speaking or a root canal

3. an appointment that can kick off a grand adventure


Perfect date: an appointment where everything clicks and not a single gaffe occurs

Per Nancy:
1. an oxymoron

2. an appointment that is customarily a figment of one's imagination (until the right person comes along)

3. an appointment where it turns out that the right person thinks you're not

Dateless: a condition that grants you time to sort out what you want in life

Per Nancy:
1a condition that grants you time to give yourself a henna rinse, convert your photos to digital format and giggle with your friends about the jerks you've dated

2. a condition in which you ask yourself why no jerk is calling now that you've rinsed, converted and giggled

3. a condition to avoid in the last 10 minutes of Dec. 31 — or on the ramp of Noah's Ark

Foreplay: intimate acts between two people, designed to kindle sexual desire, arousal and activity

Per Nancy:
1. to men, any of the following:

  • turning off the television first
  • lowering the volume
  • a mysterious practice that may require gentle instruction

2. to women (and some men), a long, sweet process that includes:

  • kissing
  • petting
  • shedding clothes (yours and his)
  • flinging said garments about the room
  • touching
  • exploring
  • heavy breathing
  • more kissing
  • more touching
  • to some women, all of the above — plus dinner!

"I'll call you, OK?" phrase uttered by a man to a woman on parting, whether they had sparks or a snooze

Per Nancy:
1. To women, "I'll call you" means just that

2. To men, "I'll call you" can mean:

  •  "Maybe you'll hear from me, maybe you won't"
  • "Expect to hear from me sometime between tomorrow night and next summer"
  •  "I'll call you after the playoffs"
  • "I'll be in touch — unless I lose your number or my nerve"

Party: a social gathering that includes refreshments and conversation

Per Nancy:
1. a social gathering that includes the above, plus gathering intelligence on which single guests are available — and which married ones are about to become so

2. a social gathering that makes people without partners:

  • wish they were somewhere else — anywhere else
  • truly sorry they dumped their spouses

Rejection: a refusal to accept something offered

Per Nancy:
1. an invitation to take a flying leap (can be issued anywhere from at first sight to years down the pike)

2. any form of public humiliation, put-down or abuse (all are bright-red flags)

The two main types of rejection are:


  • disappearing without a word
  • disappearing during dinner, a conversation or in bed
  • a look that lacks warmth
  • a lack of interest in closeness
  • a lock that's been changed
  • rushing around collecting all the CDs, underwear or whatever else you left at his or her place


  • "It's not you, it's me"
  • "I need space"
  • "I need time"
  • "I need a spreadsheet to figure this out"
  • "I hope we can still be friends" (Ouch.)

Retread: to make over or try again

Per Nancy: trying once more because:

  •  the other person is available again
  •  the other person is still available
  • after other dates and relationships, you've realized that, in the grand scheme of things, the other person isn't such a creep
  • you've grown weary of the grand scheme of things

Space: an interval of time

Per Nancy:
1. an interval of time, preferably forever;

2. a living area for an ex, preferably in another state or on a different planet

Keeper: any person with whom you click, fit, wish to build a relationship and possibly even marry

Per Nancy: my second husband, Jonathan, whom I met online at 60 after decades of dating

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