Because dating is hard and people are cheaters, there's a new term going around for you to worry about. If you loved ghosting and couldn't get enough mooning, boy oh boy will your ice cold heart enjoy cushioning.
From Urban Dictionary, the most concise definer of your dating anxiety:
Cushioning: "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.'
That's good news for Pablo/Gary, and terrible news for Dave! Sorry, Dave.
So where did this come from, and who's doing it?
According to InStyle, the term was coined on The Tab ("a movement for girls who dgaf") where several young women shared their various techniques for supposedly on-the-border infidelity. They define it thusly:
Essentially, ‘cushioning’ means while you’re still having your main thing, you keep a few others on the backburner, 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.
Cruel! Here's one brave cushioner's story, shared with The Tab (emphasis mine, because I hope she's being sarcastic):
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 talk 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.
Get it? It's purposely and deliberately flirting with other people you can rebound with if you breakup. They are your "cushions." Ironically, it seems like your cushions could easily cause the breakup to begin with, but dating is a game of checkers to these people, and you can only think so far ahead.
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" as bad as cheating? Or is it like keeping an extra battery in the house in case your smoke detector dies and you need a replacement? Is that the worst metaphor for this situation or can you think of an even worse one?
Anyway, how comfortable would you be actually admitting to your significant other that you're cushioning them? Why not try admitting it, just to see!
Good luck, dear reader. May your breakup always be cushioned by ice cream, if nothing else.