Back ups. Safety nets. Back-burners.

A back up partner, standby lover, or spare-tyre lover is a person anticipated as a potential future romantic partner in the event of the failure or unforeseen end of a current relationship.

“If we’re still single when we hit 40, just be with me, let’s have kids together.” — I have a friend who was being very serious about this offer… and by the way, he’s aware I’m writing this blog post! Every time I saw him, he’d say it again and again. I laughed it off, sarcastically joked about it numerous times until he looked genuinely offended.

According to an article I read the other day, “50 per cent of women in relationships have a back up partner.” – Wow, I did not know that. And just to throw it out there, here are some other little facts about women with back ups:

1. Married women are more likely to have a second option in place as compared to those in a relationship.

2. In most cases, the back up choice is usually an old friend, who has harboured feelings for the particular woman. Or else, it could also be an ex-boyfriend/ex-husband.

3. The majority of women said that their back-up would be somebody whom they had known for at least seven years.

4. One in ten women also said that their back-up had confessed their feelings to them already.

I’ve never quite understood or considered a back up. By no means do I judge people who have one but are “safety nets” there out of fear of being alone? Or is it to gain personal confidence knowing you have someone else to fall back on if worse comes to worst?

Looking at it from one perspective, I guess once you commit, you eliminate all other options. If option number one doesn’t pan out, you have to start over, which is probably a daunting thought for some. Then there’s also the element of having someone readily available to cushion the blow in case of a potential heartbreak.

In my opinion, a back up sounds very similar to being a football substitute. You’re essentially “benching” them until you decide you need them. And unless they’re happy with the agreement and are willing to wait it out (maybe forever), I find it unfair to keep someone around (who likely has feelings for you) until further notice. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable with that arrangement.

But maybe that’s just me and my empathy for others. What are your thoughts?

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