Love is older than civilization itself, but the ways we find, nurture, and engage in it are always changing — from Zoom dates and weddings to completely virtual partners. In addition to indexing the past month of Experience’s Mating + Dating stories, this glossary will serve as a guide to the modern landscape of romantic love, sex, relationships, and babies. Click a word below to read the article in which it appears.
The 5 Love Languages
Based on the 1992 self-help book of the same name by Gary Chapman, it’s the concept that humans use specific ways to express and receive love emotionally. The expressions Chapman outlines are “words of affirmation,” “acts of service,” “gifts,” “quality time,” and “physical touch.”
AOL Instant Messenger, the program that was the dominant text-chat software in North America in the late 1990s and early 2000s; used to power the earliest version of iChat. AIM became obsolete as direct chat became an intrinsic feature of most social networking sites. It was shut down in 2017.
Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit
A sleep product intended for babies between three and six months old. The suit is for that “in-between” phase when babies have outgrown their swaddle blankets but still might want the snug, secure feeling of a swaddle in order to fall and stay asleep.
The technical term for body measurements and calculations; statistical analysis of biological data. Biometric data includes things like fingerprints and facial measurements, which can be used to verify someone’s identity.
A curated list of contacts on AOL Instant Messenger. Unlike with modern social networking sites, users could be added to others’ Buddy Lists without their knowledge.
A popular dating app that has a video call feature.
When people assume false identities online, usually to lure another user into a relationship. Catfishing can lead to abuse, financial exploitation, and other fraud.
An artificial intelligence software used to conduct an online conversation that simulates talking with a real person. Chatbots are widely used for customer service, tech support, and, increasingly, romantic connection.
A discontinued, early-era app for long distance couples to stay connected. It included the ability to share photos, videos, and drawings, and play a primitive game together.
A person who uses technology in their dating, relationships, or sex life. Researchers Neil McArthur and Markie L.C. Twist, who coined the term, define “first wave” digisexuals as those who use dating apps or video chat software. Second-wave digisexuals experience sexuality with the aid of advanced immersive technologies, including virtual reality, electronic pillows, and haptic feedback devices.
A social networking app for users to livestream and play video games together.
A science fiction concept that involves the artificial conception and complete gestation of a fetus outside of its mother’s body — which would free women from pregnancy.
The medical support of extremely premature babies in an artificial womb — which is closer to reality than ectogenesis. Scientists around the world are in the early, experimental stages of developing a treatment strategy for infants born between 22 and 23 weeks of gestation, considered the border of viability.
General Data Protection Regulation; a series of laws adopted in 2016 and strengthened in 2018 governing third-party use of personal data in the European Union. The regulation requires companies to receive consent from users for data processing, as well as the anonymization of data.
A term coined to describe a very premature fetus in an artificial womb — between gestation and being born.
The practice of holding a premature newborn skin-to-skin inside a parent’s shirt, like a female kangaroo carrying her newborn in a pouch. The snuggling stabilizes premature babies’ heart and breathing rates, encourages brain development, and helps them grow and gain weight.
The popular — nay, default — way to get hitched in the COVID-19 era. Even after the crisis fades, experts predict, livestreaming could remain a part of future wedding celebrations, as a way to include guests that can’t attend and add a tech-forward element to the event.
An app based on the concept of the 5 love languages (see above) that allows users to track relationship goals, such as spending more time together after work.
A Japanese word describing the love a human can feel for a virtual being. Moé derives from the Japanese verb moeru, which means to burst into bud.
A virtual tabletop service that allows remote users to play elaborate board games, like Dungeons and Dragons.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A medical designation to describe the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a healthy baby under one year old. SIDS is linked to 1,300 infant deaths annually in the United States. That number represents a dramatic decrease in recent years thanks in part to the promotion of safe sleep guidelines, which include putting babies to sleep on their backs in a bare, flat crib.
A “smart” bassinet that features automatic rocking, white noise, and a swaddle attachment. Developed by Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician and bestselling author on early childhood behavior, the SNOO retails at around $1,300.
A method of wrapping newborn babies tightly in a blanket to restrict their movements and mimic the snug, warm feeling of the womb.
A conversation casual daters have as sexual intimacy develops, to try to decide if they can trust each other to not pass along disease. Also, a similar, usually earlier, conversation that covers COVID-19 virus exposure and risk, as well as deciding whether to meet up in person at all.