Pop diva Lizzo recently joined The Breakfast Club for a morning chat about new music and even dished on her relationship with comedian Myke Wright, during which she jokingly referred to her social media posts with him as a soft launch.
The “Truth Hurts” singer slowly began revealing her boo most noticeably in March. The two made things red carpet official in June during the premiere of her Amazon Prime Video reality series, Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. She told the morning show hosts that she’s known Wright for years and was friends with him pre-fame, which adds to the mystery of her series of soft launches.
But soft launches are not a bad thing. The subtle pictures of two glasses clinking together, a hand on the table, a foot on the beach, or any small indication that you are seeing someone is the mystery social media deserves. That’s according to Shamyra Howard LCSW, CST, a sexologist and relationship expert, who joined Blavity to discuss ways to successfully and respectfully soft launch a boo.
Who should do a soft launch?
Howard recommends soft launching relationships for everyone, not just celebrities or extremely private people. She noted that it’s especially important for people in the early phases of dating to consider slow reveals.
“I view a soft lunch as suddenly presenting a new partner to those who are close to you or to those who might follow you on social media,” Howard told Blavity. “So, it’s basically when you have a partner, but you have not expanded to the exclusivity phase of the relationship, but you still wanna let people know that you’re dating or you’re not single or you’re taken. So, I recommend it for those people who are still at the talking phase of the relationship but are enjoying their partner without wanting everybody else to enjoy their partner with them at that moment.”
Some of the reasons people might consider this process include the fact that they might not have created an exclusivity agreement with their new boo.
“You’ve not decided to be just the two of you together, but you still want to present as taken or partnered, yet you’re not ready to expose that part to those close to you or those in other realms,” Howard said.
Others may consider a soft launch because they just like being mysterious.
“It could be because you enjoy the mystery of not totally presenting your partner,” she said. “Mystery can be seductive, it can be sexy, right? And so it’s like an inside joke that just you and your partner share with each other. You and your partner are the only ones that are privy to it. And also that mystery of not just submerging your partner into your life publicly creates and builds suspense. And it creates more of a connection between you and your partner.”
Another reason to soft launch is because of your boundaries.
“You just don’t want people in your business. Like, that’s a big part of it,” she said.
Creating boundaries is essential for all relationships, and it starts with being honest with yourself.
“A lot of people aren’t really ready for people to know all of their moves yet,” Howard said. “You still enjoy your space as a single person or as an individual person without bringing the complexity of another partner into your space. A lot of people feel like when they include a partner in their relationship, they’re no longer viewed as an individual — they’re now viewed as a couple — and some people’s boundaries still want to be viewed as an individual. They still want things to be about them.”
Once you’ve figured out how you want to maneuver the relationship, you need to discuss it with your boo and decide on a shared goal, even if you’re not mutually exclusive.
Have a goal
A part of casual dating is getting to know people, which means your new boo is likely also getting to know people. It’s important to discuss how the two of you would like to proceed with posting about each other on social media to avoid confusion.
“The key to a soft launch is that you and your partner have to both agree on the process, which prevents it from becoming chaotic and misunderstandings,” Howard said. “So if you decide that you wanna soft launch your relationship, but your partner is like, ‘oh, I’m with my [other] bae today.’ And you’re tagging them and posting them, they could be like, ‘oh no, I wasn’t ready.’ It can become chaotic in that sense.”
Goal-setting includes deciding how long your launch process will be.
“You wanna set your boundaries on how long the soft launch process lasts,” Howard said. “Are we soft launching for two years or are we soft launching for two months? What is it that we wanna reveal? When do we wanna do the big reveal? Because the end of the soft launch is the big reveal, that is when you likely are going to put a name to the face or the hand, or the two plates — the pictures that you’ve been posting. So, when is this going to end? What are the indicators that, OK, I think this is safe for me? How are we going to, or when do we, when can we prepare for a big reveal?”
Howard also said that you should relax and let the relationship unfold, however it may.
“Have a goal for the relationship,” she said. “Way too often people jump into relationships with people that they don’t wanna be in a relationship, people that they’re just dating because, especially in the social media world, society tells us that we gotta pose. We have to be that #RelationshipGoals couple. So if you’re in a rush to do that, it could be detrimental. So, what is your goal? If your goal is just casual dating, you don’t have to launch your casual dating partner, right? You don’t have to soft launch them. And when I say casual dating, I mean, you don’t wanna be exclusive with this person.”
Understand the difference between exclusivity and commitment
Lizzo explored the idea of exclusivity and nonmonogamy during her interview with The Breakfast Club, as Blavity previously reported.
“Monogamy, I think to me, is a little claustrophobic — I think because there’s the rules. I think a love relationship that’s not monogamous has no rules,” she said.
Howard told Blavity that there is indeed a difference between exclusivity and commitment.
“So if you want exclusivity and you know, you also want a commitment, this is a great partner for you to consider doing the soft launch on just to see how it goes, just to get a grasp on that process,” Howard said.
Even if you decide on nonmonogamy, your decision should be mutual.
“So you know where your comfort lies and you also know where your partner’s comfort lies in this,” Howard said. “If you both are committed and cooperating with each other and you’re committed to each other’s comfort, then outside influences won’t be able to affect you as much. And they won’t matter as much because ultimately this is your relationship and no one else can construct your relationship for you.”
Choice seems like a new thing, the sexologist said, pointing to her upbringing where monogamy was part of common relationship messaging.
“When I was growing up, monogamy was the choice,” she said. “So it was, this is what you have to do — monogamy and you have to be heterosexual and you have to have to want exclusivity. If not, then you’re damaged goods. So, I think right now people prefer being able to choose. And right now a lot of people are recognizing that ‘oh monogamy isn’t the thing for me.'”
Collaboration remains key
Through it all, however, authentic collaboration remains key.
“We have to stay in tune with each other and not just through communication because communication is a buzzword,” Howard said. “When we’re talking about relationships, you could be communicating all day, but if you are not collaborating and if you and your partner aren’t on the same page, then you’re still not communicating. You’re just speaking words.”