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Get it right this cuffing season.

“Soft Launching” Your Relationship Is a Thing—Here’s Exactly How To Do It

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Last Updated

Oct 15, 2021

It’s cuffing season. Not to get confused with fine jewelry pieces, cuffing season refers to the period (commonly between October and Valentine’s Day) where people are on the lookout for a significant other like eagle-eyed shoppers hunting down bargains at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It’s the time of the year, on the heels of hot girl summer (or, if you’re part of the style set, haute girl summer), when first-dates and budding romances are plentiful. 

Once you have graduated from those initial dalliances and made it exclusive, the inevitable question arises: how should we make it Instagram official? For celebrities and influencers, the answer to this is, of course, the soft launch. Keep reading to find out how you can soft-launch your relationship this cuffing season. 

For those of you who are new to the social media landscape (we often struggle to keep up, too), a soft launch refers to when a user slowly introduces their significant other to their followers. Unlike its aughts-era predecessor, going “Facebook official,” where you change your relationship status and, in turn, immediately alert your friends about your new beau, an Instagram soft launch is the subtle way of showing your followers that you’re seeing someone. 

It could start with a picture of a tablescape that their arm makes a guest appearance in, but you don’t tag them. Then, you could graduate to an image of your S.O. from behind while on a hike or exploring a new city—only tagging the location. Finally, once you’re ready for the world to know, you upload a frontways profile image of your significant other, captioned with a cheeky time-stamp. Something like, “Six months with you <3”—to show the world how long you’ve held out on affirming their identity. If you still don’t understand, TikToker and Digital Marketing Specialist, Jess Fisher, can break it down for you:

Though bucketed by gender in Fisher’s analysis, it’s an Instagram approach that can be adopted by anyone—irrespective of gender and sexuality. All you need is a camera and a companion. 

Who Has Soft Launched Their Relationship?

A lot of people. You have probably seen a high-school friend do it, or that one Tinder date you refused to unfollow because of their cute dog. The most notable example of this is Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker. Before they were putting out PDA content for the whole world to see, the pair spoon-fed us their relationship. Starting with a hand photo, then a behind-the-back birthday shoot, and finally a video of Kardashian giving Barker a tattoo, the celebrity couple proved they are masters at the subtle art of soft launching their relationship on Instagram. 

The beauty of the soft launch is there’s no set way to make your romantic debut—you can get creative. Á la Tom Holland, you could introduce your relationship to the world through something as simple as a birthday message, telling your lover to “gimme a call me when you’re up.” (Our hearts melted, too). Or, if you have a flair for the dramatic, take inspiration from Adele, who showcased her boyfriend through a photo dump.

Understandably, the soft launch isn’t for everyone. In a world where you can find someone’s auntie’s cat quicker than you can say “bake-off,” sometimes people just want to maintain an element of privacy until they’re ready to share. This was the case for Issa Rae who announced her relationship with Louis Diame on the day she got married. The Insecure actress admitted to Rolling Stone: “I just feel super protective of any relationship I am in,” she explains. “That’s come from observing and making fun of people over the years who have broadcast the most intimate parts of their relationships, then are left with egg on their face.” 

How to Soft Launch Your Relationship On Instagram

It’s for this very reason that we have come up with our own top tips to help you decide when and how to soft launch your relationship on Instagram. Consider this a little gift from us to you. 

Our Soft Launching Top Tips

Make Sure You Define the Relationship

In the world of modern dating, there’s no way of knowing where someone’s head is at. Apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have made the entrance of a potential lover into your life as easy as swiping right. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are on the same page when dating. So, to quote Love Island, you haven’t put “all of your eggs in one basket” in vain. The best way to do this is by having a good old- fashioned conversion; it’s daunting, but we have faith in you. 

Don’t feel like you owe people an explanation or you need to rush your relationship debut. Take your time. One of the joys of Instagram is that by the time you have uploaded the photo of your lover’s arm at dinner, another person’s soft launch will probably have landed above it. So enjoy the romance—and when people start asking questions, just know you can always turn off your comments. 

Remember, There’s Always the Delete Button

There’s no shame in putting your heart on the line; in feeling the fear of vulnerability and going for it anyway. Though it’s natural to be scared about making your relationship public, don’t let that deter you from showcasing your happiness. After all, it’s better to love and lose than never experience love at all. Plus, there’s always the delete button.

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