People warned their partner may be ‘cushioning’ them which could mean your relationship is coming to an end


When you first hear the word ‘cushioning’, you might imagine getting all cosy on the sofa. You know, building a comfy little set up of cushions to make a comfy spot for binging Netflix.

But in this case, it’s a much darker thing that could mean your relationship is coming to an end – and the worst part is, you might not even realise your partner is doing it.

Sara had been married for 14 years when she began the ‘cushioning’ – when a friendship turned into an affair.

The writer had started to fixate on her flirty vibes with a co-worker and invested into the relationship before they eventually slept together.

She explained to Huffpost how she reckons many people ‘in steady relationships’ will occasionally ‘stagnate or get into tiffs that remain unresolved’.

“Whether it’s boredom or complacency or unresolved frustration, I’m not sure,” Sara said.

But it makes them see other people in a different light and can elevate the human connection.”

And these lingering connections can be called a ‘back-burner relationship’.

You know, like having a person who you’re not ‘presently committed’ to but you might maintain ‘some degree of communication’ to hold on to the possibility of some future romantic or sexual involvement.

This is just what ‘cushioning’ is, like, ‘I’ve got a Plan B waiting to cushion the blow if this relationship doesn’t work out’.

But it’s not the most background thing as author of 2014 study ‘Computers in Human Behaviour’, Jayson Dibble, told The Atlantic that back-burner relationships require ‘relatively frequent communication’.

Maybe someone meets up with their ‘cushion’ for a weekly coffee or always likes their Instagram stories, but they’re still with their partner.

Marriage therapist Elisabeth LaMotte says cushioning is like a ‘pre-meditated version of rebounding’ – that inability to get by without being in a relationship.

“With cushioning, you’re usually cultivating a secret flirtation with someone who represents an exaggerated rebellion against challenges in one’s current relationship.” she explained.

“For example, someone who is dating a successful but anxious partner might cushion with a relaxed partner who is unable to keep a job.

“But cushioning denies both parties a chance to see if the anxiousness (or any other challenges) might be lessened through communication and effort with our primary partners.”

Not only is cushioning unfair to your current partner, but it’s unfair to the ‘cushion’ themselves because let’s face it, you’re just using them for your own insecurities.

So, think about what you really want and focus on your actual relationship.

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