Dating trends always evolve and change alongside the people who are actively dating. Some trends, such as ghosting, are well understood by single and coupled people alike. But unfortunately, a new year often ushers in new terms that not everyone knows to look out for.
One of the more recent dating trends has been dubbed cushioning. Unfortunately, cushioning is one of the most heartbreaking habits that has recently emerged. As explained by Her Way, cushioning is what happens when someone doesn’t end a relationship until they know they have a back-up person — aka, a cushion. Dating website eHarmony also explains the new phenomenon, pointing out that cushioning is incredibly dishonest. Not only is the person partaking in this pattern emotionally betraying the person they’re with, they’re also stringing along a second person they may or may not enter into a full relationship with.
While some people might think that cushioning isn’t that big of a deal, or that it’s even an okay way to behave until you’re sure you want to emotionally invest in someone else, many dating experts disagree.
Cushioning is a dating trend that can cause a lot of pain
Tennesha Wood, founder of The Broom List (a matchmaking site for successful marriage-minded Black singles), told Refinery29 that cushioning definitely still involves a lot of emotional infidelity. “There’s a line there. You’re not necessarily physically cheating, but you are engaging in a behavior with a potential romantic interest that you’re probably not telling your partner about,” she explained.
Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, the founder of Rapport Relationships, has also weighed in on cushioning. She said in an interview with Bustle that people who use cushioning aren’t ready to be in relationships or to fall in love at all. “This would be what emotionally insecure people do and it’s not really a new phenomenon,” she said. “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. 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.”
If this feels all too familiar, Wood suggests trying to talk it out with your partner and open channels of communication to better understand you and your partner’s needs. This can help prevent the people involved — including yourself — from getting hurt.
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