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mX Column: The Back-Up Guy

Over breakfast the other morning with a girlfriend, I was discussing The Back-Up Guy.

You know, the guy or girl who is always there lingering in the background of your relationship, the one you sometimes think about, wondering what life would be like if you’d ended up with them?

Back Up Boyfriend

The one you could probably end up with if you weren’t with your current partner.

The one who never seems to get their timing right with you.

When you’re single, they’re taken. When they’re single, you’re taken.

And so it goes on, presumably until you’re both old and by chance you end up in the same nursing home and finally get to be together.

Except that’s a big fat fantasy; you will never end up together.

Did anyone ever in the history of the world end up with their back-up plan person? I say no. They’re little more than psychological relationship insurance.

Having a contingency-plan person can help ease the troubles of a relationship on the rocks, or a relationship that isn’t quite serious yet. You know, “Well if it doesn’t work out in this relationship, there’s always Mr X.”

The cast of How I Met Your Mother addressed the situation brilliantly in one episode. They call it being “on the hook” and Robin convinces her friends that everyone has someone on the hook or is on a hook at any given time.

The key phrase here is: “We can’t be together…. right now.”

Which causes your hook-ee to think they might have a chance with you later in life.

Have a long hard think. Are you on anyone’s hook? Do you have anyone on yours you should really cut loose?

An old back-up plan of mine is in London right now.

He moved there when I last became single, of course. We were never in the same place at the same time – figuratively and now literally – never both single, available, willing and ready.

And we would catch up every few months here and there, one of us turning up with our flirt game on, thinking now could be the moment. But sadly no, the other would break the news: “Just started seeing someone.”

I don’t even have a back up these days.

I think as long as a person is single or in only a semi-serious relationship, having a theoretical back-up person is a fairly common occurrence – eve if no one is saying so.

Can you be fully committed to someone if you already have an escape route planned? Not really.

At some point, when you are ready to jump into a relationship, you need to quietly and without fuss unhook your Back-Up Plan and let them drift off for someone else to find.

I made the mistake of sleeping with another back-up guy once a relationship had fallen apart. It was awful. Haven’t seen him since. Ever had a Back Up Plan Person? Got one now?

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Writer, dating columnist, wife, coffee addict, foodie, fashionista... Melburnian through and through. Muser, dancer, blogger, tweeter. Likes to get her head on telly now and again. Sleeper, dreamer, a sucker for romance. And of course... a cheap date.


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