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The Backup Plan

The Backup Plan

Life is full of back-up plans. Back in elementary school when we were plotting out our recess agenda, we had to decide which piece of playground equipment we would use if someone had already claimed the best swing. As we grew up and started paying attention to birthdays and bar mitzvah, we had to mentally prepare ourselves with alternate plans in case we didn't receive a coveted invite.

Fast forward to our adult lives and we're still concocting elaborate backup plans, only now they've gotten a little stickier. Psychology Today has published a fascinating article about the science behind courting a backup mate. All of us (well, most of us) have had an alternate waiting in the wings at some point, even while we've been in happy, healthy relationships.

"The Plan B partner, or backup mate, highlights a problem that both sexes struggle with throughout their reproductive lives, regardless of whether one is single or coupled," writes psychologist Nando Pelusi. "People need to accurately gauge their own romantic market value at all times, in order to find a suitable partner or maintain an optimal relationship."

While having and/or being a Plan B partner may be good for the psyche, it can also lead to a tangled web of confusion for both parties, especially if things start to get physical. If you've got a little back-up plan action going on, proceed with caution. Just like those days on the playground, you may end up on a dangerous merry-go-round.

Posted: 9/12/08

It's ALWAYS an ego boost to know that someone else in interested in you. However, you can't go into a "committed" relationship with a backup plan.
We all need our egos stroked from time to time and it helps when your partner realizes that. If you find yourself in need of that kind of self esteem boost, perhaps he/she should see you the way others do.


Yeah, kinda strange! But I totally have those people whom I'm not "waiting for," and yet, it didn't "work" before b/c of geography/time issues...it may some time down the road. It's hard not to at least think about that from time to time.

  • By aliciak
  • on 9/16/08 12:35 PM EST

I think having a "backup plan" would almost certainly doom a struggling relationship because the grass is always greener on the other side. When you are having difficulty in a relationship you demonize the one your having trouble with and idealize the one in the wings- if it hasn't already turned into cheating. That's an unhealthy way to conduct your life and you certainly can't learn from your mistakes that way if you go from one relationship to the next that way.


I honestly think this is a ridiculous notion. I am not so naive to think that my significant other is not going to check out the occasional gal. But to have a backup plan when seriously considering a relationship is absurd. The same goes for the person who is pursuing their passion, but has a "backup plan" just in case that professional choice falls through. Why have a backup plan? How serious are you about what you want? How confident are you? How do you plan to succeed if you are already setting yourself up for potential failure? If you were in fact serious, confident and secure, you would not need a backup plan.