'Cushioning' Is The Horrifying New Dating Term — And It's Probably Happened To You

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I feel like I have to check Urban Dictionary every other day to stay up to date with the dating lingo. People are always throwing around terms like "ghosting" and I never know what the hell they’re talking about. Am I just old and out of the loop or are things really changing fast?

'Cushioning' is a horrifying new dating trend — and it's probably happened to you.

The term "cushioning" is the newest dating slang to cross my path. While it seems that the term may be new, the actual concept is something that a TON of people have likely done already.

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So, what is cushioning? According to Urban Dictionary, cushioning is "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 break-up and not leave you alone."

"Yeah, I don't think it's going that well with Dave. Luckily I've been cushioning him with Pablo and Gary."

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The term was apparently coined on The Tab when a group of girls detailed their personal techniques for avoiding loneliness and always having a potential partner waiting for them in the wings.

Some of the things they said were:

  • “Essentially, ‘cushioning’ means while you’re still having your main thing, you keep a few others on the back burner, 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 talking 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.”

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Isn’t love supposed to be this whimsical, naturally occurring phenomenon? It seems that when it comes to these girls, love is something strategic; a game to play and win. Essentially, cushioning is like an emotional form of cheating, which, to some, is considered the worst kind. It kind of seems that it’s bad for everyone involved.

I mean, plenty of partners worry that the person they’re dating is texting someone else, and in this case, that’s exactly what’s going on. Plus, these emotional side pieces are getting led on while the person doing the cushioning is getting caught up in a tangled web of lies. It all just seems a little much to avoid being alone.

Now, the term "cushioning" has gone mainstream. Daily Mail wrote a piece about it and Mashable even touched on the topic, saying, “It doesn't really help you either. The only way to reap the full benefit of being in a real relationship is to be in one — all the way in, not with one foot always out the door.”

So, is cushioning worth the mental stress of juggling a bunch of different people all while trying to maintain an actual relationship? Is being alone REALLY that bad?

Think about all of the awesome me time you could be having if you find yourself suddenly single. Perhaps cushioning is really just a big waste of time. What do you think?

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Shannon Ullman is a writer who focuses on travel and adventure, women's health, pop culture, and relationships. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, MSN, and Matador Network.