Monday, 28 July 2008

Sam: Plan B

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?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought I was someone's Plan B, and hoped to be their Plan A, but I think I might be Plan X, Y, maybe even Z.

Which is a pity, because she's my Plan A. I guess this kind of thing works, so long as you both view each other as the fall-back position.

Never make someone a priority in your life when you are only an option in theirs. That was my mistake.

Anna said...

I dunno, I've always thought that if you can't decide which of two people you want to be with, you should sort your head out before getting together with either of them.

I don't have anyone waiting in the wings, and I'd be pretty upset if my boyfriend did... heck, I didn't even have a plan A till I met him!

Ys said...

I'm with Anna on this one: no Plan B for me or my boyfriend. I think I'd happily go off on my own and live a solitary life if things didn't work out with my guy.

Anonymous said...

I don't really have a Plan B - until very recently, in fact, there haven't even been any Plan As! But I can't help but feel that my boyfriend, love him as I do, is in fact the Plan B to an unattainable Plan A - the guy I clicked best with, the only guy I could see myself even thinking about marrying, but a guy who is in an apparently very happy, stable relationship. There's a part of me that thinks that should that relationship fail, I'd be in with a chance, and despite all my resolutions about not going out with guys who are recently out of long-term relationships, I think I'd probably go for it...

Saffron said...

I was once a Plan A for a guy who, unknown to me, had a Plan B hiding in the back of his mind. To her, he was her Plan A. She was waiting with baited breath while he fed her *just* enough attention as a friend to keep her from looking elsewhere.

When our relationship floundered he dashed off, happily landing in the arms of Plan B.

I can't help but wonder if he'd have been willing to put more effort into our relationship if he didn't have a Plan B (or more). Why try hard when one has a supermarket at one's door? Really, you've got to wonder about that, right? A smorgasbord attitude to relationships doesn't sound too healthy.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had a plan B at the moment!

tarainlondon said...

My ex has been my plan B for over a year now. From what I can tell, he still hopes to marry me some day (!) so it looks like I'm his plan A.

Sometimes, when we're going through a particularly smooth patch, I wonder whether he could be my plan A. Then I remember all the shit that went down, and wonder how I even dare consider him to be my plan B at all.

I remember watching My Best Friend's Wedding and totally empathising with Julia Roberts' character... unfortunately, even the best laid plans can go to waste.