Cushioning in Dating and Why It’s Making Everyone Uneasy

What Is Cushioning?


These days whenever I read a dating term, I tried to guess its meaning, given that I am a so-called dating expert. But then, to prove myself right, I Google it—and, I have to say, I am almost always right.

The latest in the line of dating terms that I come across is “cushioning.” Do you want to guess what cushioning is? Do what I did—think about it literally. Do you know what a cushion is? What a cushion does for you? It makes you comfortable when you are sitting on your sofa watching Netflix.

I know it’s disturbing that a dating term should involve an inanimate object you use in your everyday life. But let’s stick to comparing the term with the most present thing in your home: cushion.

What would a human cushion look like? Well, someone who gives you comfort. Can you have more than one cushion? Yes—you may be one among many for the person who is cushioning you. This person keeps you, as they do many other people, as back up. This is usually done by uninteresting texting or messaging, or even calls (although they are rare). The crux of the matter is, if you are being cushioned, you are not being taken seriously in your relationship.

Have You Fallen Pray to Cushioning? Are You the Cushion?

But can you tell when you are being cushioned? Yes. Just as you can tell when you know you are being manipulated in a relationship. Cushioning is no different. If you are being cushioned or are acting as someone’s cushion, know that the person doing it to you will make you feel as though there is something wrong with your relationship and will not invest all of them into it. They keep you on the hook with a date here and there. They test and call you but rarely. They may even be good friends with you, but you are never the “dating material” for them. They are likely just using you as a distraction. They already have that person they love in their lives and if you receive that late-night text from them, know that it’s just something that’s one off. So, if you are a cushion, know that you are always going to be a side hustle in their lives.

I Am a Cushion. What Should I Do?

If you are a cushion, it likely means that you are already prey to this person’s affections. Either he or she is confiding in you or telling you their deepest secrets so that they can have you as an alternative alongside an already existing relationship. It’s important that you ask yourself why you should accept being someone’s second choice. Is it out of some sort of insecurity? Are you trying to hurt your partner by flirting with someone else? If yes, it maybe because you don’t have a fulfilling relationship. If you want to get out of this feeling of insecurity, it’s best to go to the root cause of things and first deal with issues that are making you feel insecure. It’s also a good idea to seek help. Know that being a cushion does nothing but harm your self-respect. I can say thing from experience that once you have spotted the person cushioning you, it’s in your hands to stop feeling the way you do.

How Insecurity Makes It Easy for You to Fall Prey to Cushioning

It’s true most of us, including me, have had bad experiences in relationships. While most of these experiences are a result of other people’s mistakes, some of them may come from your own issues. All of us have insecurities that go back to things that happened to us in our childhood. But, you don’t have to carry the baggage of your past and let the past affect your current relationships. If you think you let people take you for granted or fall for them easily then you need to tackle the underlying problems first. This is not a rule of thumb and it’s possible you it’s the other person who is at fault, but if you think you are the one that’s falling prey to unwanted relationship complexities, then it’s time to look within yourself and think hard. It’s true bad experiences make us stronger, but too many of them, and you will be exhausted.

Everyone knows that one person in their lives who is always in a relationship. This comes out of insecurity. Cushioning comes out of that insecurity. More than anything else, cushioning is a kind of relationship abuse—if you are victim to it, you must stop it in the tracks. I think it’s important to understand that you want to get out of this cycle of falling for someone who is only willing to give you part of their time and not all of their time. It’s important to break this cycle of bad relationships that are not healthy. Working on yourself as a person and focusing on your needs can go a long way in keeping you from falling for people who are not totally invested in you. You need someone you can count on. Isn’t that, after all, the point of all relationships?

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