Ever since Instagram invaded our lives, we’ve had more flickering issues to mull over than we did before. Read: an incline in body dysmorphia, the partition between close friends and not-so-close mates and the shattering belief that everyone on your feed is living a glossier life than you.
But despite all of that, we’ve assimilated the app as part of our personal identity—a well-embellished platform to define your lifestyle, while being that overflowing source for newsy updates, viral memes and priceless memories. And as part of that experience, there always comes a certain thrill when it comes to posting an update about your life—especially when it involves a potential significant other.
While Facebook could only grant us a relationship status update from ‘Single’ to ‘In A Relationship’, Instagram proffers more: soft-launching before the official reveal. A gradual non-committal ease into your impending shift away from your singlehood. It can come in varying obscure forms as caught on dates—whether it be an elusive hand in a food shot or a gallant shadow as the photographer behind the camera. Most of the times, no tagging can be found in these posts, which only adds on to the alluring mystery of ‘Who’s that?’.
@jess.fisher5 what is a “soft launch”? (ONLY for the breeders) #funny #fyp #relationships #VibeWithUs ♬ original sound – Zodiac Bi
In a viral TikTok by digital marketing specialist Jenna Fisher, she explains the general formula: “For the girls: she will post a picture of him at a restaurant, his face will not be in it, she will tag the restaurant but not tag him. For the guys: it will only be a photo of himself and he will tag her as the photographer either in the description or the photo.”
It’s an enthralling process that anyone can add to stories—even celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, who posted the first signs of her relationship with Travis Barker via a shot of their hands interlocking. Bella Hadid, too renounced her singlehood few months ago with a blurry shot of her and her and new beau Marc Kalman.
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The name of the game is ambiguity here, which may or may not represent the current status of the relationship. Especially given the modern dating scene in the pool of apps, where casual dating occurs more often than committing in a full-fledged title. But perhaps what makes soft-launching so exhilarating for the user and the viewer, is the documentation of the early stages of a relationship. The initial butterflies, the incessant questions from your pals and the explosive feelings bubbling underneath the surface, which all comes before the actual affirmation of a relationship. It’s a sheepish yet sweet spot to nuzzle in, with both parties on the cusp of something great.
On the flip side, even if something substantial wasn’t to come out of this, there won’t be much to answer for. The obscurity in soft-launching, also dissolves any repercussions on both parties since nothing was officially spoken for. No losses incurred with minimal accountability and nonchalance at the helm, which almost mirrors the current state of Internet culture, where finstas and photo dumps thrive.
It seems the real desire at hand isn’t so much about being single or taken—but rather, straddling the in-between is somehow the ideal place to be.