Cushioning is a strategy for singles and couples alike to maintain flexibility in their romantic relationships. Find out what to look for, why this is a terrible thing, and how to avoid it below.
About a decade ago, we didn’t think twice before completely cutting off a romantic relationship. We could have avoided the term “ghosting” altogether. People used to simply say that a guy was playing a girl instead of using the term “breadcrumbing” to describe when he flirted with a potential partner. And now the concept of “cushioning” in romantic relationships has been debunked as well. Similar to leaving breadcrumbs, this behavior is the result of a lack of confidence in the person’s own abilities.
Cushioning is the practice of protecting a vulnerable object from outside forces. So, it stands to reason that vulnerable individual would protect their fragile ego by surrounding themselves with admirers.
A person can protect themselves from the vulnerability of being alone by keeping their dating possibilities open, much like a cushion. Rather pitiful, they date multiple individuals at once in case the one they’re with at the moment dumps them.
Cushioning is a pleasant-sounding word. However, that is so, especially in a long-term partnership. It’s like emotionally cheating on someone. In other words, you’re not actually sleeping with someone else, but you are participating in romantically suggestive conduct with someone else without disclosing it to the person you’re seeing.
However, when two people first start dating, boundaries tend to blur. Keeping your choices open before committing to one person can make sense if you haven’t yet established exclusivity and are still in the talking stage. But that’s the only case where it makes sense to do so.
What compels people to use cushions?
Here’s the essence of padding: It’s the worry that things won’t work out between a couple. The causes are insecurity, fear, and avoidance in a relationship. When we cave to our fears, we doom our relationships to an early end because we are always seeking an exit.
Cushioning is, at its core, a selfish act. Instead of prioritizing their partner’s needs or anyone else’s, they just care about expanding their own horizons. Further, always keeping one foot out the door is a surefire way to fail.
The most common warning signals that you are now being sheltered by another person are:
1. The person who is too cautious about protecting their mobile device.
The person you’re seeing is probably cushioning if they’re constantly checking and even obsessively using their phone.
2. Acting both hot and cold.
On a good day, the person you’re seeing is really into you. They may even act like they can’t live without you. Yet another day, they seem distant and uninterested in communicating with you at all. If you’re the one getting coddled, the hot and cold treatment could be very perplexing.
3. Shy and private online.
Suppose you and your sweetheart went to a concert and took some pictures together. The next step is to share the photo online and tag your significant other. They don’t want others to know they’re dating you if they refuse to accept the tag or show any kind of proof that they’re spending time with you.
4. The closeness of friends and lovers is thinning.
There should be a balance of emotional and physical closeness in a healthy relationship. When one partner in a relationship is cushioning, the level of closeness between them diminishes, often very gradually.
5. Decreasing the amount of work you’re putting into your relationship.
They may have paid close attention in the beginning, but that probably changed. They were always eager to spend time with you, wanted to spoil you with gifts and plans for a romantic evening out, and cuddled up with you constantly.
6. It takes them longer to respond to their lover than it does to anyone else.
They don’t respond quickly when you call or text them. Even when they are physically there with you, it is clear that they are responding to texts and phone calls from others. This could be because you’re no longer a primary priority. They have at least one person (and possibly more) between you and the floor.
How to stop someone from cushioning you.
You may be asking what you can do to protect yourself from being cushioned by another person now that you know what cushioning is, the warning signs, and why it’s harmful.
As a result, being aware of the warning indications of padding is a significant first step. Always be on the lookout for any of these behaviors, and always go with your gut if it tells you anything is off.
To put it simply, being alert is your sole defense against being padded. Pay close attention and even point out any inappropriate actions. Don’t take disrespectful behavior from anyone. If you realize they may be protecting you, have some dignity and end the relationship.
This is why cushioning is useless in the long run.
Cushioning isn’t a dating strategy; it’s a red flag that you aren’t with the person your heart wants to be with forever or that you aren’t ready to make a commitment. In any case, now is not the time to get serious with someone, and you should be forthright about it.
The use of padding in furniture dates back centuries. When we aren’t confident in ourselves or our relationships, it’s simple to keep others around as a safety net.
Cushioning isn’t just a rash action; it actively works against you. In the event of a broken heart, moving on to the next available person is no substitute for finding someone new and loving. As painful as you think a breakup may be, it will hurt all the same.
Worse, you can end up hurting not just yourself but everyone you mess with. Don’t worry about the rest, and just do the one thing.
Find someone else if they don’t work out. Why bother dating one person while keeping another person waiting in the wings? It’s just old feelings that aren’t helping you or anyone else in any way.