If you can’t keep up with the dating trends, you’re not alone. You had me at breezing and lost me at soft nexting, but at least this new one is pretty easy to understand: cushioning, the dating trend you might be taking part in without actually realizing it.
So what is cushioning? Well, according to Urban Dictionary, it’s “a dating technique where, along with your main piece, you also have several ‘cushions,’ other people you’ll chat and flirt with to cushion the potential blow of your main breakup and not leave you alone.” Basically, you keep chatting up other romantic prospects just in case your main relationship doesn’t work out.
Honestly, cushioning is basically just setting yourself up for failure. It means you expect your main relationship not to work out, which probably means you aren’t giving it your all in the first place. According to Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, though we may have given it a new name, the phenomenon itself isn’t new. In fact, it’s been practiced by insecure people for quite some time.
“Quite frankly, it makes me sad that people have such trouble with emotional intimacy and talking about feeling scared with the person you are dating,” Rhodes told Bustle. “You can’t really fall in love unless you are ready to get hurt. Cushioning is for people who are not ready for real love.”
Of course, the real way to break this trend is to stop being so afraid of getting hurt. Our generation is so afraid of things going wrong that we focus too much on how to soften the blow, but half the time we’re setting ourselves up for failure just by doing that. What we should be focusing on is keeping things from going wrong in the first place.
Instead of worrying about how we’ll feel when it’s over, why don’t we work on keeping ourselves happy in the moment? That means paying attention to your partner’s emotions just as much as your own, keeping open communication and practicing trust. Because in the end, cushioning is just selfish — you don’t care about what you’re doing to your SO, only about what you’re doing for yourself.
Here’s to hoping cushioning will stop being a “trend,” because we deserve better.