Remember when making your relationship “Facebook official” was the biggest deal in the world? Announcing your new relationship for all the world to see (including your aunt in Ohio and your classmates from middle school), declaring your commitment to one another, and taking your relationship to the next level in this way felt monumental.
And that’s because it kind of was. Changing your profile to say “In a relationship with Mike” was all fun and games…until you guys broke up, and changing your relationship status back to “single” was just another knife in your gut. With every photo of him you had to delete, with every post you had to untag yourself from, you felt yourself die a little bit inside. Add to that the embarrassment you felt knowing that everyone would notice things had ended. What would they all think?
Well, leave it to TikTok to figure out a solution to this problem, which has been branded “soft launching” your boyfriend on social media. If you’re not entirely familiar with what that means, allow us to unpack this trend for you.
What Does It Mean To “Soft Launch” Your Boyfriend?
We’ve all seen those women who plaster their new guy all over their feeds as soon as things are official, practically screaming “I have a boyfriend!” from every rooftop available. She wants to make sure that every person alive knows her good news, and she doesn’t care how annoying it gets for her single friends.
Well, a soft launch is the opposite of that. A woman soft launching her boyfriend on her socials might post a story of two glasses of wine at a restaurant (Who’s sipping the other one?), or a picture of their shadows on the street (Who’s the guy? Is he actually that much taller than she is?), or a shot of his back from really far away (Is she with that guy, or is he a random dude?). She’ll offer her friends and followers morsels of intrigue, but not more than that. She wants them to be left with more questions than answers.
The idea of soft launching is to give people the impression that she might be seeing someone without officially announcing anything or showing his face – and with that, build up an air of mystery. She leaves much to the imagination, rather than giving any solid information, letting her followers make of a picture of her holding a mystery guy’s hand what they will.
Soft launching can be a practical self-protection measure.
Why Do Women Do It?
We know what soft launching is now, but why do women do it? Why are they posting cryptic pictures and keeping their new relationship on the DL when they should be excited to show off their new guy to the world? There are a few potential reasons that we’ll dive into.
First, it might be a practical self-protection measure. If she was the type to post a million pictures of her past relationships only to have to delete them when things fizzled out, she might be wanting to take things slowly and save herself from another public embarrassment just in case things don’t work out.
Second, she might simply be a private person. She wants to gently share that she’s in a relationship, but feels no desire to give anyone more information than that. In her mind, if you know her well enough, you’ll know who he is.
Third (and this is probably the most common reason), it’s really fun. She wants to feel like people are talking about her, like they’re just dying to know more about her personal life, almost as if she’s a celebrity. It’s exciting to get “Who is that?! Are you dating someone?” messages, to withhold just enough information and feel like she has a little secret. She wants everyone to know she’s in love, but she won’t say with whom yet.
Should You Soft Launch Your New Boyfriend?
So if all the cool TikTok girls are doing it, should you do it too? Should you soft launch your new boyfriend instead of doing what would’ve been the typical way to announce a relationship five years ago, like posting a picture of you and your guy with a caption like “1 month with you <3”?
He could misinterpret your soft launch as embarrassment, which could hurt his feelings.
It depends on you and your relationship. But if you’re worried about any downsides to soft launching your boyfriend, the only potential issue that could arise is him misinterpreting your soft launch as embarrassment or reticence to announce your new relationship status, which in turn could hurt his feelings. If you communicate with him about your desire to soft launch the relationship, however, this will likely be a non-issue.
Besides that, there’s no reason not to soft launch your relationship if you want to. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, there’s something special about teasing a relationship while keeping it between the two of you and safe from random, unwelcome opinions or the influence of social media. Keeping your relationship mostly off social media for the first little while this way can also help it grow more naturally; your interactions will be for each other, not for likes.
While the “soft launching” phenomenon might be confusing at first, in an age that’s overrun with social media, it’s actually a nice idea to keep a relationship just between the people in it for a time. But also, the mystery and creativity on your part that soft launching brings is just plain fun.
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