We've seen men and women alike master the arts of ghosting and breadcrumbing... and now there's a new term out for the dating scene: cushioning.
It's similar to breadcrumbing—when someone sends flirtatious, but non-committal signals (breadcrumbs) in order to keep someone interested when he or she has no actual desire to pursue them. Cushioning, however, according to theUrban Dictionary, is defined as being in a relationship or seriously dating someone, yet also keeping around several "cushions"—aka people you text, flirt with, or even date—to cushion the blow if your main relationship doesn't last.
Earlier this year, several young women shared their stories of cushioning for the UK's The Tab, with one woman saying that even though she spent every night with her now boyfriend while she was dating him, "I had at least two or three guys that I was stringing along in the occasion that things didn't work out."
But, she didn't cut anyone off after they became official. She continued, "And even now that we're officially (and happily, might I add) dating for over a year, I'm definitely guilty of keeping the occasional guy around who so blatantly flirts with me and would hop in at the chance, half because I don't mind the attention but mainly because if things didn't work out I'm glad I know I would have a floating device when the ship goes down."
While there are many reasons people do it (the relationship is no longer going well or simple insecurity, for example), cushioning at its core is a tactic to try to prevent getting hurt. While anyone who has experienced a breakup knows the pain that comes with it, constant cushioning could prevent you from experiencing a full relationship with your partner ... and that seems like a less than stellar remedy for issues in the love department.
This article previously appeared on InStyle US.