As many long-time readers of the blog know, I am always on the lookout for new terms and concepts that people are coming up with in order to describe this strange new world we live in. I find them interesting — and usually the formation of a new term can be telling.
I happened across a new expression today — “soft launching a relationship” — that frankly has me flummoxed.
What Is Soft Launching?
So here’s a link to another article that talks about relationship soft-launching in greater length if you’re interested. But essentially, when you soft launch a relationship, you’re not ready to announce it officially (which conjures up a now-older expression “we’re Facebook official”), but you kind of want to hint on social media about someone being in your life. The linked article talks about posting yourself with pictures of your new flame without tagging them or calling them your boyfriend/girlfriend/joyfriend.
Or going even more vague with it, in one example given, and posting lots of pictures you’re taking on a hiking trip. Photos that wouldn’t mean a lot to a stranger, but to people who know you well will know that means you’re off on a trip with your new soft-launched flame.
Those interviewed in the article give many reasons for soft launching. One that’s in there is they will soft launch a relationship because they want to share about it, but they know it might not last and don’t want to jinx it or don’t want it to be awkward for friends and family if that person suddenly disappears from their dating life.
But even soft launchers admit that the technique isn’t without risks. Even soft launches have angered newish partners who aren’t ready for even that soft launch. Looking over the article, it seems like a soft launch is a way to test boundaries and suss out the limits of a relationship without asking.
For the curious, a relationship hard launch is a relationship status announcement or directly referring to someone as your boyfriend/girlfriend/joyfriend on social media.
Why I’m Flummoxed by Soft Launching
Okay, so we know what it is. Why am I flummoxed?
Well, for starters, the name is just throwing me. Soft and hard launches are usually terms people use for new products. Things they are selling or promoting. Not for relationships, which while something we often will talk about in public, are primarily about personal one-on-one connection with someone else.
So it’s frankly a strange way to talk about the relationship. It conjures up an idea that there’s something separate from the actual relationship itself — the public way you can brag about a relationship to others — that is more of a product, more of a PR campaign.
And maybe I’m missing something important… but it seems really sad and transactional to be launching your relationship image like a product. It reminds of those people who are so focused on getting good vacation photos that they don’t actually enjoy the trip.
The other issue I have is that soft launching seems to be a way to test out the boundaries of what your relationship is and what the other person is comfortable with… and really… you should probably just ask them? Communicate with them? Rather than doing something indirect in public and then monitoring them for a reaction?
Yes, those conversations can be uncomfortable — but so can someone flipping out on you because you did something that bothered them to see what they would do.