What does cushioning mean when dating?

Pursuing romantic interests in case you break up

Cushioning is when someone keeps their romantic options open while dating someone, just in case their relationship fails. The name comes from the person's desire to immediately "cushion" the blow from a break-up with another romance.

The cushioning tactic derives from self-preservation. People that cushion look to reduce the feeling of failure and through consolation in another's open arms.

A "cushioner" flirts with one or more people via DMs, text messages, or real-life conversations (often at work or in a social sphere separate from their partner). When leading others on, the cushioner is typically secretive about their current relationship status for fear of scaring the romantic prospect away.

While it seems like a good idea, cushioning is not a sign of a committed relationship. Not only is one partner emotionally cheating on the other, they are also proving they are not fully committed to the success of a relationship.


Bridget put Joel on blast when she found out he was cushioning her work friend. Joel didn't know that Bridget and Vanessa worked together

Cushioning allows you to soften a break-up with another partner

Related Slang


Updated September 1, 2021

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