Image: 123rf

So what exactly is cushioning? It’s a new term for guys who already have a main squeeze (although things haven’t hit the boyfriend-girlfriend zone), but are keeping their options open with other women. It can range from just flirting on dating apps to going out on actual dates.

Here’s the lowdown – with help from a few men

But isn’t that cheating on their main girl?

Not according to the men we spoke to. Because the relationship status isn’t official, it’s still a grey area. “Even in long-term relationships, you can’t always be certain that it won’t fall through. So what more with a fledgling relationship?” asks Arthur*, 30.

Why cushion? Why not seal the deal?

“Well, sometimes it’s not up to us,” says Michael*, 28. He explains that if a woman says she’d rather take the time to get to know him better, this signals that there’s a chance of failure. Joshua*, 30, likens cushioning to “diversifying your portfolio: it’s not smart to put all your money into just one great investment”.

Are guys who cushion even serious about getting into a relationship?

Not really, says Arthur. There might be one girl you’re more into, “but as a single guy who doesn’t want to be tied down, I would continue dating others for variety”, he adds. If you’re doubtful, ask your man to come clean about how many women he’s sending flirty one-liners to.

 

The red flags you shouldn’t ignore

via GIPHY

 

1. He texts you mostly during working hours

It’s easy to send texts during office hours, when he’s alone and not accountable to anyone. But if you notice that the text messages slow down after 6pm, that’s a red flag. It’s likely he’s spending time with someone else.

2. He doesn’t like making plans ahead of time

Is he a fan of spur-of-the moment dates? If he’s reluctant to commit to watching that play which is opening in a month’s time, it raises the question of who else he’s juggling his schedule around for.

3. He doesn’t tag you in his photos of your time together

You had a romantic brunch date, he took a flat lay of the meal and posted it on Instagram. But guess what? You weren’t tagged in it. That begs the question: If he felt it was a special time to remember, why didn’t he tag you in the photo?

4. He makes minimal effort

There are only so many times you can settle for just dinner and a movie, especially when everything’s supposed to be fresh and exciting in the early stages. If he’s not making the effort to plan anything special, it’s an indication he’s not that invested in the relationship.

This story was first published in the August 2017 issue of Her World magazine.