CUSHIONING (Dating Term)

What Does Cushioning Mean in a Text?

Cushioning means "Maintaining Alternative Romantic Relationships."

The word cushioning actually refers to "protective or insulating material, designed to reduce impact or improve comfort." In dating, cushioning refers to the practice of maintaining other relationships while dating someone. Cushioning is done to provide a "fallback" should the main relationship fail. For example:
  • Lee: Dan is always texting me, even though he's dating Ann now.
  • Sal: Block him. He's cushioning with you, in case things don't work out with Ann.
  • Jo: Are you cushioning with Lee, in case things don't work out with Ann?
  • Dan: And with Sal. You have to be prepared!
Cushioning can be a toxic dating practice. Understandably, it is employed by most people at the start of a relationship. However, as a relationship moves to being exclusive and committed, continuing to cushion displays a lack of confidence in the potential of the pairing and raises issues that should be addressed.

Check out our comprehensive list of dating terms.

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When I write Cushioning, I mean this:

meaning of Cushioning

"Maintaining Alternative Romantic Relationships"

Summary of Key Points

"Maintaining Alternative Romantic Relationships" is the most common definition for cushioning on online dating sites, such as Craigslist, Tinder, Zoosk, and, as well as in texts and on chat forums. Here's more:
Definition:Maintaining Alternative Romantic Relationships
Type:Word (Slang)
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user
Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at Cushioning

When used as a dating term, cushioning is a slang word. Slang refers to words, phrases and uses of language that are regarded as very informal and which are often restricted to a special context or a particular group of users.

What Did We Say before Texting and Social Media?

Before the digital era, we might have said something like "keeping your options open" instead of saying cushioning.

Example of Cushioning Used in a Text

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