Benching Vs. Cushioning: Here's The Subtle Difference That's Pretty Confusing

When it comes to dating trends, I've experienced them all. I have been ghosted. I have definitely also been zombied. Oh, I've been love bombed, too. I've been breadcrumbed, and I've also been benched. And recently, I heard about another trend called cushioning, which apparently is similar. I mean, what is the difference between benching and cushioning anyway? At some point, all these dating trends seem to bleed into one another.

Dating has become some sort of a war zone where everything that hurts your feelings has been given a name. The only plus side is that now it makes it easier to talk about your crushes with your friends. Instead of going into detail about how some person disappeared off the face of the Earth and then texted you saying, "Hey stranger," several months later, you can just say you were zombied, and everyone will know what you're talking about.

However, what does it say for our dating culture that we have a million names for bad things, and no names for things that are good? I'd like to coin a term for what it's called when your crush doesn't leave you on read, or when they come to your house with a bouquet of flowers because you had a bad day. Let's start naming things like that!

But until we start focusing on the positive, here is the difference between benching and cushioning, because everything is so confusing these days and dating is not normal anymore. Fun!

This is benching.


To put it simply, being benched is being led on. Benching occurs when the person you're talking to is likely also talking to multiple other people and essentially has a lineup of crushes available at their disposal. You're in a rotation because they're not quite sure they want to date you, so they keep you on their bench for some later purpose or date.

Benching is not uncommon, especially in the digital age. Typically, you're talking to several people at once on a dating app, and it's not uncommon or unadvised to keep it that way. You don't want to put all of your eggs in one basket until you truly get to know someone and are sure that they're commitment material.

However, full-fledged, purposeful benching is pretty dishonest. If you're seeing multiple people, let someone know. Benching gets frustrating if you feel neglected, or if your crush goes MIA and becomes unreachable. Unless you know that things are casual, this can set you up for heartache.

This is cushioning.

Ulaş and Merve/ Stocksy

Cushioning happens when someone is already in a relationship, but they also start lining up other potential partners on the back burner in case of a breakup — before you've even broken up. It is essentially a form of emotional infidelity, but it's been normalized with a way cuter name so you can be less mad at it.

This person is cushioning me! No, they have a girlfriend, and they're texting you on their nights out with the boys, and liking all your Instagram thirst traps so that they're prepared for uncuffing season. Yuck.

To me, cushioning is the worst of all dating trends. It's not only unfair to the partner that you're seeing, but it's also unfair to the people you're stringing along in the meantime. If you're unhappy in your relationship, seriously, just break up.

If you think you're being benched or cushioned, maybe it's just time to end ythat relationship. Life is too short anyway. Move on to the next thing, where maybe you'll be zombied instead.

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