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Help! Both Women I’m Seeing Want to Be Instagram Official

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Dear Randa,

I recently ended a five-year relationship with a woman I thought I was going to marry. After moving from Los Angeles to New York, I immediately dove back into the dating pool. I’m not looking for anything super-serious at the moment and have just been dating around.

There are two women I’ve been seeing for about a month, and they both recently brought up “hard launches.” I guess I’ve been out of the game for a while because I had no idea what they were talking about. I did some research, but I still have questions. Does “hard launching” someone always mean you’re exclusive? Is it okay to hard launch multiple girls at a time? I also learned about “soft launches” — would it be better to do that instead?


Hardly Launching

Dear Hardly Launching,

When I first heard of people “launching” their relationships, my eyes rolled back into my head. Relationships aren’t products to be marketed! Can’t we simply exist without treating our personal lives like commodities for consumption?

But when I thought more about it, I realized launching just may be an inevitable human impulse. People have been doing it forever — with wedding announcements in newspapers and the mail, then with relationship statuses on Facebook. Now we post photos of artistically disembodied limbs. What a time to be alive.

For those who are unfamiliar with the latest launch tactics, a “soft launch” is when you post a photo with the person you’re dating without revealing their identity. You might post a hand across from you at dinner or something fashionably blurry. A “hard launch” is when you post a clear photo of the two of you together. It conveys the seriousness of your relationship, and unless you’re openly polyamorous, hard launching someone does imply exclusivity. Whether you’re hard launching or soft launching, you’re broadcasting the fact that you are seeing someone, and there is some connotation that you’re committed to the other person and not dating around.

More important than deciding whether to hard launch is considering why these women may want that from you. Have you asked them? On a fundamental level, requesting that someone hard launch a relationship means you want other people to know you’re dating. My friend Jay had been dating their girlfriend monogamously for a few months but hadn’t posted about it on Instagram, and Jay’s girlfriend was “genuinely upset” that people didn’t know they were together. She requested a hard launch and Jay obliged, effectively communicating that they were off the market.

I won’t say for certain that these women are trying to establish exclusivity with you, but that seems pretty likely. That is, unless you have a shit ton of followers, in which case they could be clout-chasing. If that’s the case, maybe say yes and charge them a fee because you’re doing them a service.

If you do find yourself in a position to hard launch, you might consider waiting for things to play out for a while before going public. Madison, a tech Twitter micro-celebrity, hard launched a new fling pretty early in the relationship because, as she puts it, “I was in love. He was fucking hot, and I wanted to brag that I was dating someone that hot. Also, I wanted to do this publicly to make my ex jealous.” Since everyone in her orbit knew about the relationship, Madison was embarrassed when it ended a mere three months later. In an effort to control the narrative around their breakup, she says she tweeted “crude and mean things, which I now regret.” You may not handle a breakup the same way, but you could end up feeling embarrassed that you were so public about something that didn’t last.

Ultimately, I think you should forget this whole launch thing and instead ask yourself what you want out of your dating life right now. It’s fine if you just want to date around and have fun after being in a long relationship. And if you’re just keeping it casual, leave social media out of it!

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Help! Both Women I’m Seeing Want to Be Instagram Official