Despite a rebrand, why this questionable dating behavior still carries negative connotations
When most people think of the word “cushioning,” feelings of comfort and care are usually evoked. After all, the very definition of the word means softening the impact or protecting a person or thing from a harmful effect.
However, in this 21st century era of dating, where it appears that old terminology seems to get a brand makeover every 15 minutes, the word cushioning has not been spared, and has now taken on a new, rather sinister insinuation.
According to folks familiar with this lingo update – probably several dozen younger millennials looking for more ways to explain unscrupulous behavior – cushioning refers to the act of exploring romantic options while being in a committed relationship.
Now, depending on who you ask, this relationship behavior may not necessarily be synonymous with betrayal, especially in cases where both parties agree to consensual non-monogamy.
But if we’re keeping with the theme of commitment, the word cushioning appears to be an attempt to replace it with the harsher, albeit more direct, and apparently passé term – cheating.
The act of cushioning may or may not involve having a direct physical encounter with a person outside of the relationship. In fact, it could start innocently enough with a casual conversation that leads to further communication, and eventually the development of deeper feelings.
No matter how you phrase it, when infidelity occurs within what is supposed to be a committed relationship between two people, where exclusivity is the agreed upon status, the hurt and the pain it causes can be devastating and its negative emotional impacts could be long-lasting.
Relationships today seem to have adopted the business model of the beloved ice-cream chain Baskin Robbins, where 31 varieties is the norm… and counting. But the common denominators of success with any partnership still remain the same – communication and consent.
By Barbara Handfield