By Michaela Magliochetti

What is cushioning and why should you be where of it? My interview and video feature with PureWow explains this shady dating trend.

Michaela writes, “We’re sending e-mails until 6 p.m., spinning on our stationary bike when we get home, throwing together dinner, calling back Mom and trying to stay awake for our reality TV ritual before bed. We barely have time to date one person. But there are some super-daters among us who can balance multiple coffee chats, jaunts around town and late-night texts with ease. Called “cushioning,” this dating trend involves chatting with several partners at once to cushion the blow of a potential break-up. You might know cushioning in a committed relationship by its other name: cheating. But what about approaching cushioning in a new relationship, when dating around is more permissible? Below, we asked three relationship experts when it is and isn’t healthy to cushion, plus how to bring it up with a new partner.

Wait, What Exactly *Is* Cushioning?

Cushioning is an emotional safety net meant to shield us from the impact of dating unknowns, Winter shares in a recent YouTube video. What if my date ghosts me after four dates? Will my current partner and I recover from a major disagreement? What will my ex think if she knows I’m single? Rather than falling headfirst into loneliness and uncertainty, the cushioner has a reserve of romantic interests waiting to catch them before they reach the ground. Someone who cushions aims to keep their options open by “overlapping” people they’re dating. Rather than openly addressing problems or reflecting on how they might have been a better partner, Winter says cushioners cycle from one person to the next to avoid any post-breakup alone time.

Yikes. Why Might Someone Cushion?

When someone cushions within an exclusive couple, ego and fear are their main drivers. “No one wants to be dumped, rejected or made to feel like a last priority,” says Winter. To ensure a person’s self-esteem isn’t bruised by a difficult split, they might cushion to renew their confidence with a new fling (or two).

We can’t fall in love without surrender: giving a part of ourselves to another person and accepting we might get hurt. But Winter explains in the cushioner’s case, “Their capacity to love cannot tolerate risk or loss.” This fear holds the dater back from a real lasting partnership. Instead of “deeply struggling to protect yourself,” she advises learning to relinquish control and building your communication skills so you can work through relationship bumps that arise.

Continue reading the full piece, Is “Cushioning” as Toxic as It Sounds? The Shady Dating Trend, Explained, on PureWow (and be sure to watch the video above!).