Cushioning: Why Using This Dating Tactic Just Makes You a Jerk


The act of cushioning is when people in a relationship cushion the blow if things falls apart. It’s keeping other people in the picture just in case.

I am learning all sorts of new terms. In the day when we shut someone down and stopped dating, we just did it. We didn’t have to call it ghosting. When a guy led a girl on, we just said he was playing her, we didn’t call it breadcrumbing. And now cushioning is the latest dating load of shit. Something close to breadcrumbing, it stems from a someone being too insecure to face their own lack of self-esteem.

The word cushioning means that you put a buffer between something fragile and things that might hurt it. So, it would make sense that an insecure person would put their fragile ego behind the cushioning of admirers just in case.

Like keeping your options open, when a person cushions themselves with other people, they make themselves feel less fragile to being alone. Pathetic really, they string several people along just in case the one they are with decides they no longer want them. [Read: What is ghosting  – What really happens and how they do it]

Reasons why cushioning just doesn’t work

Although Millennials think they invent new tricks and cool phrases, the practices they are putting a label to have existed forever, just outside of cell phones and social media. Keeping someone waiting in the wings is not a new practice, but the fact that people admit it and put it right out there, is.

Just as an FYI to all you daters who think having two adoring fans around makes you desirable, it just makes you extra stupid and will probably end in you losing all your adoring fans. [Read: Are you an attention whore? 16 ways to know for sure]

Here’s why cushioning doesn’t work.

#1 People aren’t all the same. If you are keeping another person around as your shit test, stop doing it. Don’t try your bullshit out on the extra one to see how it will go over on the one you are with.

Chances are good that they are two completely different individuals and what will work with one doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work with another. The person you are cushioning isn’t your lab rat… let them loose!

#2 If they find out, you lose both. If one of them finds out, you are likely to lose them both. First, if the one you are having a relationship with finds out you have been whispering sweet nothings to someone else, whether you are actually “with” them or not, they will see it as a betrayal, and you are going to be history.

If the person you are keeping around for your cushion finds out that they are being used and played, good luck. Hell hath no fury… they are going to make sure that your significant other finds out in whatever way they can. [Read: Love triangles and the confusing complications it can create for you]

#3 It isn’t nice. If you think that you aren’t hurting anyone because you technically aren’t cheating, you are. Giving your emotions to someone other than the person you are with is cheating. Also, if you are keeping someone hanging on because you want to make sure you have a backup plan, you are hurting them by pretending that they are someone to you.

All the way around you are just being a jerk… so quit it, and make your relationship your one and only. Someday they are going to find out, and it is going to backfire, and you know what? Karma is a bigger bitch than a woman who has been screwed over. That I can guarantee. [Read: Why you need to stop playing relationship games right now!]

#4 It won’t ever provide you comfort. If you think that cushioning is your way of ensuring that you aren’t alone and that your ego is being fed constantly, guess what? The act of cushioning isn’t providing you anything but angst.

Somewhere deep inside, you know what you are doing is wrong and it isn’t making you feel good about yourself, even if you think it is *unless you are a sociopath and don’t care about anyone else*.

Secondly, it isn’t making you feel like your relationship is any more stable. In fact, if you were so certain that the person you are with is the “one,” then you wouldn’t even chance or want to have another one hanging around as an extra just in case.

It isn’t giving you anything but anxiety and ensuring that you can’t free yourself to be 100% in the right relationship. [Read: Is flirting cheating when you’re in a relationship?]

#5 You have to choose eventually. If you aren’t ever all in, then you won’t ever find love. I know, believe me, I know that it is difficult to feel as if you’ve put all your emotional eggs in one basket. I mean, what if it doesn’t work out?

That is the thing though, if you don’t put your eggs in one basket, you will never know for sure if it is working because you won’t take the leap of faith that it takes to fall head over heels.

There is going to be a time when you are going to have to choose. Are you sure that if you start cushioning that you are ever going to decide you are all in… or are you going to spend your lifetime cushioning yourself and your heart from real love? [Read: What to do when you like two people at the same time]

#6 You can’t replace love. The whole idea behind cushioning is that if someone is to break your heart and break up with you, you have someone to be with and won’t be alone. The only way that you can ever be alone is if you choose it.

If someone breaks your heart, you can’t just replace them with the next in line. That isn’t real, and it isn’t real love.

People aren’t replaceable by simply numbering them according to who is next in line. If you lose the love of your life, the one waiting in the wings isn’t going to take the sting away.

#7 If you are cushioning, you are with the wrong person. So, you might be telling yourself that you are keeping people around because you don’t want to be alone if something should happen.

But the thing is that if you were really in love and had found the “one,” then you wouldn’t feel the need to cushion because you wouldn’t ever let that person out of your life to begin with. [Read: Emotional cheating and 10 bad things it can do to you]

The practice of cushioning isn’t a dating tactic, it is a sign that you aren’t with the person your heart wants to be with forever, or that you aren’t ready for a commitment. Either way, it isn’t the right time to be serious with anyone, and you should be honest and let everyone involved know. [Read: 18 critical signs of a really unhealthy relationship]

Cushioning has been around forever. If we aren’t secure about ourselves, or our relationships, it is easy to keep people hanging on as an extra just in case.

The problem is that cushioning isn’t only a jerk move, it is totally working against you. You can’t replace love lost by going to the next girl or guy in line. It is STILL going to hurt if you break up.

Even worse, you could end up hurting more than just yourself; you could hurt everyone that you are messing with. Stop keeping extras around and focus on one.

[Read: To cheat or not to cheat? A guide to help you make up your mind]

If they don’t work out, then find someone else. What is the point of cushioning and keeping someone in the wings? It is just emotional baggage that isn’t doing you, or anyone, any good.

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Julie Keating
Julie Keating

A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined...

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