It seems like every few weeks there’s a new slang term that becomes popular. From “no cap” to “rizz,” it can be hard to keep up with Gen Z and their endless need to create something new to describe the same ‘ole same ‘ole that’s existed since the beginning of time. And when it comes to relationships, the slang landscape gets even murkier.
At some point if you spent even the slightest bit of time on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve seen a reel or post talking about the “sneaky link.” So, what is a sneaky link? Is it okay if you’re the sneaky link or if you have a sneaky link? And what does it spell for the relationship — or situationship — if you two are in the sneaky link category?
What Is a Sneaky Link?
If you take a deep dive into Urban Dictionary and Reddit, you’ll find a few competing definitions for sneaky link. For those of you who are Millennials or older, a sneaky link is essentially what TLC was describing in their iconic song, “Creep.” In short, it’s exactly as the name suggests, someone you’re connecting or “linking up” with romantically who you don’t want others to know about.
Maybe it’s because this person isn’t conventionally attractive, is under (or un!) employed, or just isn’t someone you’d usually associate with. Whatever the reason, you’re only hanging out with them when you know that no one else is around. Typically, this is a physical-only relationship. It’s highly unlikely that your sneaky link will ever cross over into the “boo’d up” territory — but it does occasionally happen.
Sneaky Link’s Main Definition
As mentioned previously, sneaky link has a few competing definitions. Primarily, it refers to someone that you’re seeing on the sly. This is the definition you’re most likely to find on sites like Urban Dictionary. But this is pretty vague, so it can also refer to friends with benefits. Either way, you still don’t want the world to know that you two are doing the horizontal mambo. Yet, it’s still fairly above board. However, there’s no guarantee that one of you won’t catch feelings if you’re a consistent sneaky link to the same person.
The Other Sneaky Link Definition
While most sneaky links fall into the funny yet innocent secret lover category, that’s not always the case. According to one Reddit thread in the r/relationship_advice category, the Gen Z slang can also refer to an affair partner, better known as your side piece. This also follows along nicely with TLC’s iconic song since that track is specifically referencing someone hooking up with a man on the side because they’re not getting enough from their main relationship.
Sneaky Links and Modern Dating Culture
Hookup culture is by no means new. Low-effort hook ups have existed since the first dating website was invented decades ago. But considering that society has been trapped in a swipe left dating culture since the onset of Tinder, sneaky links is almost an unfortunate but natural progression of a dating scene that’s been stuck on “Netflix and chill” and low-effort dating since the turn of the century — the 21st century.
Are You Cut Out for the Sneaky Link Life?
If you don’t want a real relationship, then sometimes a sneaky link scenario might be the best of both worlds. You get to have temporary companionship when you want it without getting bogged down in the emotional drama that can accompany a real relationship. However, you should be upfront about wanting a no strings attached, and no commitment type of relationship. Be clear that you don’t want to claim the other person/.
Yet, not everyone is cut out for the sneaky link life. This is especially true if you’re the type who catches feelings easily, automatically assumes a relationship is more than it is, or stays in a situation longer than they should in the hopes of it becoming more. So, before you allow yourself to get sucked into a situationship of low-bar interactions, stop and think about whether this is what you actually want.
If you want a real relationship, avoid becoming or turning someone into a sneaky link. While a situationship can sometimes evolve into something more, this usually isn’t the case. And most importantly, if you want to be in a relationship that’s public, and where your love interest openly claims you, avoid becoming a sneaky link at all costs. In most cases, sneaky link scenarios are almost always sexual. This means your love interest has no incentive to make you legitimate and you’ll have no one but yourself to blame since you never required them to put in more effort than they have.
Don’t Be a Sneaky Link Affair Partner
Finally, especially for those of you thinking of becoming the sneaky link to someone who’s already attached, really stop and think about what you’re doing. These situations are already as low effort as is humanly possible. If your partner is in an ethically non-monogamous (ENM) relationship, go full steam ahead since the other half presumably knows that their partner is actively on the scene. But if you’re knowingly the affair partner to someone who’s not in an ENM relationship, you’re opening Pandora’s box.
At best, you’ll get branded as the person breaking up a happy home — even though the cheating partner deserves most of the blame. In extreme cases, things can get ugly when the jilted lover learns what their partner’s been up to. And you can’t assume that their anger will be limited to the cheating partner. More importantly, if you’re hoping the shady partner will make an honest person out of you, keep dreaming. Most relationships that start as affairs — both dating and marriages — have epic failure rates because of a lack of trust for understandable reasons. Don’t waste your time on someone who’s proving just by being with you that they can’t be trusted.
A New Name for an Old Scenario
Gen Z has created yet another fun slang for a situation that’s been around since practically the beginning of time. Side pieces, “creepin,” secret lovers, and now sneaky links. Not everyone is cut out for the sneaky link life, but for some people, it can temporarily serve a purpose. Just make sure you’re emotionally mature enough to be in this type of relationship without catching feelings and that you’re honest with your sneaky link.