Now this is something that most of us would never admit, but we know it’s true in our heart of hearts.
Pretty much everyone has a plan B. That secret love insurance policy. That person who you keep in mind in case your current squeeze just doesn’t work out. Now this is not fling material, this is person who is a real serious potential long term partner.
There is a real temptation to feel bad about this, presume that you just have a roving eye, that there is something wrong with your existing relationship, or that maybe we just aren’t biologically programmed to be in a monogamous relationship. But apparently keeping ‘love insurance’ is a natural and widely used strategy.
That’s what Joshua Duntly, Assistant professor of psychology at Stockton College New Jersey says - he calls them “backup mates”. It makes evolutionary sense – since we invest so much in our partners, if we lose them is make sense to have a plan B. He argues that since women bear a particularly heavy evolutionary burden with childrearing, a backup mate is particularly useful to them. And apparently people in relationships who don’t have backup mates, particularly women, are more prone to depression.
I once even set up an official plan B. We both got on well, had a fling in the past, and were really good friends. ‘Tell you what, if you get to 35 and we both haven’t found the love of our lives, how about we get married?’. ‘Great, it’s a deal’ she replied.
Now I have to say there was something very re-assuring about having what I called at the time my ‘Love life Superannuation’. And indeed I was actually quite upset when she did find a man, settle down and have kids. Quite disproportionately so I thought – but according to Duntley this is entirely normal – in his research men reported getting more upset when a backup mate found partner than if one of their casual flings did.
Do you have a plan B, or perhaps are you someone’s Plan B and are patiently waiting in the wings?