‘Cushioning’ is the new ghosting. Welcome to the dating trend you don’t even know you’re doing
What if I’m being cushioned right now and I don’t even know
So you know how it is. You’re seeing someone, you like them, it’s going well. But, it’s early days. You don’t want to admit to anyone you’re into it in case it all goes to shit. And if it all blows up in your face, you definitely want a back up, some extra safety nets. What’s the point in putting all your eggs in the one basket right?
Sound heartless? This is cushioning, a new dating trend for the cautious and the cynics among us.
Essentially, ‘cushioning’ means while you’re still having your main thing, you keep a few others on the backburner, texting them and giving them just enough attention so that if your main relationship goes down, you’re not totally left alone and out in the cold. They’re there to ‘cushion’ the blow, so to speak.
“I was seeing someone for a few months and it was going well, but it felt like the dust had started to settle a bit. I still liked him, but wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to him to be my boyfriend and was in limbo. Instead of talk about it, the rational thing to do was to go back on Tinder and find some more boys to chat to, just in case the current one fell through”, says Anna*, a devoted cushioner.
“It was nothing major – I didn’t meet up with any of them in the end, but it was good to know that when it ended (which it did), there were options, ‘cushions’ if you will.”
Another cushioner, Lauren* told me: “All of senior year I was hooking up with/essentially dating my now boyfriend (but god forbid commitment when you’re 22, ya know). The entire time I spent essentially every night at his apartment or vice versa but because we didn’t really “dtr” I had at least two or three guys that I was stringing along in the occasion that things didn’t work out.
“Like literally had an offer to be walked home by the one guy every night that I’d act like I was gonna take him up on when I was really just waiting for my boy to text me to come over. And it was always awkward when their names would light up my phone while I was sleeping over his place, but I felt like I needed them as an insurance policy.
“And even now that we’re officially (and happily, might I add) dating for over a year, I’m definitely guilty of keeping the occasional guy around who so blatantly flirts with me and would hop in at the chance, half because I don’t mind the attention but mainly because if things didn’t work out I’m glad I know I would have a floating device when the ship goes down.”
Some people even admit to using cushioning to channel the anxiety that comes with dating someone you like and being deathly afraid of fucking it up. Rosie* admitted: “When I really like a guy, I find a ‘b team’ guy to keep on the side to channel my crazy. I go on dates with him before I go out with a team literally as a practice round.
“I act crazy on them and text them constantly so I’m more chill around A team.”
Welcome to dating in 2017. Everything is terrifying and confusing. Great!