Online dating has caused an epic change in the way we date, for singles in their 20s — and in their 60s or 70s! Along with thousands of sites and apps doling out eligible singles both near and far, a whole new lingo has emerged. If you've just gotten used to terms like ghosting, "Netflix and chill" and breadcrumbing, "cushioning" is the latest term to learn.
"Cushioning" is what we used to call "having a back-up plan" or "plan B" — basically, someone waiting in the wings. It is having other dating options in case the current relationship fizzles.
Cushioning can be outright cheating on an exclusive partner (to keep options open either early on or even deep into the relationship), or it can be flirtatious texting back and forth with new eligible singles. The "cushion"' (i.e. people you're flirting with) are there to soften your relationship fall — in case of a sudden break-up.
If you're padding your relationship with cushions, you may want to do some work to better understand why you're staying in the relationship in the first place. Is it because it's still too early to tell if this is a good person for you? Do you feel insecure about your partner's interest in you? Do you feel like you have trouble committing to one person? Or maybe you feel there already red flags around your partner that make you feel nervous?
If you feel like your partner may be cushioning you, here are some tell-tale signs:
1. They keep their phone on them at ALL times.
And you can't help but notice that it's always buzzing or beeping. They never let you see who is messaging them, and they certainly would never give you their pass code. If you do happen to take a look at their phone, you can tell they've deleted message chains. They're not just texting with mom and dad.
2. Their behavior can be hot and cold.
You may not hear from them for a couple of days because they are "very busy." After some disappearances, they reappear again as if nothing was wrong. They may also be secretive about their whereabouts and give evasive answers to even the simplest of questions.
3. Your gut says something is off, but you can't quite put your finger on it.
Start listening to your intuition!
4. They're secretive when it comes to social media.
If they're on social media and you walk into the room, they quickly close down the screen.
5. They are less interested in being intimate with you.
Consider this with caution, though, as there can also be many physical or emotional reasons around decreasing libido, which don't have to be a result of cheating.
If you are looking for lasting and healthy love, it is best to stay away from cushions or being the cushion — the only cushions you want around you are the kind you and your mate can cozy your heads up to!
Bela Gandhi is the president of Smart Dating Academy, a date and relationship coaching service that helps singles find happy and lasting love at all ages.