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Image / Self / Relationships

Apparently it’s soft launch season, but what does it even mean?


By Sarah Gill
17th Aug 2022

Instagram @kimkardashian

Apparently it’s soft launch season, but what does it even mean?

It seems as though there’s an art to going Instagram official with your significant other.

Does anyone else have earth shatteringly cringe-inducing memories of logging onto Facebook in the early 2010s to formally change your relationship status from single to taken? Proudly broadcasting your very serious and definitely-won’t-end-within-the-month teenage courtship to your friends and extended family, it didn’t get more online-official than that.

Thankfully, such ill-considered proclamations have become a thing of the past and with the advent of the relationship soft launch, we can not opt for a much more subtle approach.

We’re all familiar with the concept. Piquing our curiosity on our Friday night scrolls through Instagram stories, the gradual evolution of an online relationship warrants something of an anthropological study.

It starts off with a photo of two drinks (whose is that pint?!), then progressing to a romantic meal — where we might just catch a glimpse of a hand or elbow — and continues to evolve via blurred silhouettes and would-be casual snaps of a man’s retreating back.

Culminating in a grand debut on the grid, the digital introduction of your new beau is complete.

Aptly coined by comedian Rachel Sennott in 2020, the term reflects the way we — A-list celebs and humble civilians alike — curate our public-facing personas in a strategic, deliberate way. Veiled in aloof nonchalance, these posts are designed to allude to a relationship in the abstract so that we can get used to the idea of having a new person on the social media scene.

Obviously, no one does it better than the Kardashians. When Kim K chose to go Instagram official with Pete Davidson, she opted for a carousel of images that feature the pair laying on the floor, all puckered up. Before Kourtney and Travis were getting hot and heavy on the red carpet, the rumoured relationship was confirmed with an up-close shot of their hands intertwined.

Jennifer Lopez and now-fiancé Ben Affleck plunged in at the deep end with what can only be described as a hard launch, with an image of the pair all loved up, smooching away.

As with all celebrity led social media phenomenons, soft launching has now effectively become essential in the developmental stage of any and all relationships. Mirroring the excitement of those early days, each photo hinting at someone’s other half seems to take on more and more of a comfortability as the pair grow closer.

The voyeur — who has played silent witness to the process, following the breadcrumbs and watching on as the new boo gradually inches into the frame — is eventually rewarded when a post finally appears on the feed, tags and all.

An artful way of renouncing your status as a singleton and allowing your significant other to become part of regular programming on your social media, the soft launch stage is quite the relationship milestone. *2 Become 1 by the Spice Girls plays softly in the distance*