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?
From age 16 until now I’ve been in 5 relationships… although I wouldn’t consider the ones before 25 “serious” as my young, wild and naive phase lasted a fair few years. When I finally matured and got my shit together, I decided to remain single for a while — 2 years in fact. I spent a lot of that time focusing on myself, working on my own happiness. I learnt how to enjoy my own company, spent more quality time with family and friends, went on a fair few holidays, got through a ton of books, put more energy into my career, improved my fitness, took up new hobbies, as well go through the process of self-reflection, all which gave me an incredible amount of perspective.
I can’t emphasise how important the self-reflection part was for me. Once I took a step back and analysed my life events, behaviour, values and beliefs; I decided it was time to make a few adjustments. I didn’t necessarily change who I was, but knew there were areas within myself that needed improvement – my attitude in particular. Once upon a time, I used to be extremely selfish, I went from 0 to 100 extremely quickly, sometimes violent, easily irritated, always spoke without thinking, was condescending towards others and had issues with authority.
Being a typical teenager/young adolescent was an obvious factor, however there were so many more layers to why I behaved and acted in such a way… but I won’t bore you with my life story! Maturity, different experiences combined with taking a time out made such a positive impact on my life. Over the last few years I’ve found myself to be much calmer, a better listener, more empathetic, understanding and open-minded. I pretty much did a 180! 😊 And if you’re wondering how any of the above is relevant to dating/relationships… just bear with me… My friend recently described my relationship history as: “Every bad trait you could ask for in a man, you found in each one of your relationships.” – This is true! Here is an overview on everything I’ve encountered in the past (not fishing for sympathy by the way!)
Relationship 1 – violent, controlling, cheater Relationship 2 – no backbone, gambler Relationship 3 – drug abuse, no ambition/drive Relationship 4 – needy, insecure, controlling Relationship 5 – compulsive/pathological liar
Number 1 affected me the most for sure. He did me dirty! 😩 I was young, it my first boyfriend and I was very cut up about it when it came to an end. A few of my issues stemmed from this particular relationship, and caused some of my existing issues to magnify. I knew it had affected me badly because when I entered my second relationship, I ended up being an icy bitch while displaying signs of a very unstable, insecure person. I just didn’t allow myself enough time to fully heal before jumping into a new relationship. Thinking back, I was a real handful to deal with! But the fact that he was a gambler didn’t help much with my irritable behaviour, he also never put his foot down when I was being mean, thus making it very easy for me to be a living nightmare.
When I was 21, I signed myself up for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), I could feel my rage getting out of control as it was slowly spreading across to my home life. I found therapy helpful, it made me more self-aware, however it wasn’t going to solve everything… and putting what I learnt into action was a very slow process for me.
After the dramas and the 2 year self-cleanse, I told myself that if I were to get into another relationship, that I’d be the best version of myself, not let past issues creep into the present, not set any expectations and just go with the flow. Which I did… as well as I could anyway. As you know, people don’t just change overnight.
Then Relationship 4 & 5 happened. Along came Mr. needy, insecure and controlling, followed by Mr. compulsive/pathological liar. Oh and not to forget, my dating history includes (but not limited to) being ghosted, bring dropped because they were still hung up on their ex, bring slow faded. Isn’t dating delightful?
I believe my old line manager at work came to the conclusion that I was the “common denominator” — rude. Firstly, I’m confident it’s not me — yeah, that’s what they all say! But seriously, it’s not. I’m someone who thinks very logically, I have my head screwed on and don’t act “cray”… well not anymore! I’ve already gone through that phase. What I don’t know is how and why I manage to attract certain types of people. They seem cool at first and then all the toxicity suddenly comes pouring out! Literally… why is it always something? I’m capable of understanding that no one is perfect. I’m not and have never asked for perfect. I totally get that everyone has had some shit to deal with in the past but how is it possible that every person I’ve been in a relationship with… or even short-term dated just ends up having some major issue??
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
It’s a good thing I’ve learnt not waste too much time and energy on people! To think that I used to drag things out for more than a year in hopes that the person/situation would by miracle change! Madness. Don’t get me wrong, I think people can change but it’s not an overnight thing… it can take many years and quite frankly… who’s waiting?
I exchanged some hilarious dating/relationship stories with my work colleague the other week, and she shared a this little theory with me. She believes that damaged/unstable people can sense the aura of those who have their shit together. Then once the victims have been sussed out, these “parasites” will lure us in, latch on and absorb as much time and energy at the expense of our happiness and wellbeing… so in essence, I’m a host for these leeches! Sad but sounds about right.
On a serious note though, not many people are aware of their internal issues or they simply choose to suppress it. I feel it’s vital for everyone to self-reflect. Not only do you become more confident and happy within yourself but it helps to build much better relationships. It’s certainly not a natural or easy thing for people to do. Many will struggle to hold up a mirror and really take a good look at themselves because it means being vulnerable, being completely honest with oneself and admitting mistakes/faults. When I think about the past, I genuinely hope that my exes/guys I’ve dated have gone through this process and managed to better themselves allowing them to discover real happiness and love.
Perhaps I’ve been dealt a slightly bad hand when it comes to dating/relationships but will always be grateful for the experience and learnings that came with it. I have no idea what to expect next but all I know is that right now… I’m in a really good place where I have peace of mind, life is stress/drama-free, I can look back and laugh, cherish memories, write about it and enjoy the moment 🙂
Yeah okay I do have a fair share of dating disaster/failed relationship stories (partly why I started this blog in the first place)… so when I spill the latest to my various groups of friends, they seem to think the “pattern” is due to my pickiness and high maintenance attitude. Well, I humbly disagree. I’m far from picky and not even close to high maintenance – really, that’s the truth. Besides, I’m from South East London… say no more init!
In terms of qualities and characteristics, I don’t ask for much. Just someone who is capable of being honest, can hold a good conversation, has a sense of humour, respectful and has direction/ambition in life. For some reason though in today’s society, even those 5 things can be a challenge to find in a person!
For those who are unfamiliar or new to the online dating scene, I want to give a bit of detail on how I filter out the absolute lunatics from the ones that appear “normal” (not to put you off but a good percentage of these “normal” people still end up having major issues, they’re just pros at putting on a facade!)
Anyway!!! Before I get into it, let me quickly explain why I decided to flock over to dating apps. Firstly, I (and I’m sure the majority of people) would prefer to meet someone in real life. It enables you to cut through the bullshit, see if you have chemistry right away and figure out if you’re attracted to the person (not depending on or being disappointed by misleading photos!) However, currently, for me anyway, there isn’t much opportunity to meet someone in the traditional way (i.e. social events, during a night out) and there’s a few reasons for this:
1. My circle of friends are mostly married with kids so getting dolled up and going out to clubs/bars/lounges are a thing of the past. Besides, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I stopped going out years ago, and even if something did crop up, I’d happily pass and spend the evening in bed!
2. I also want to highlight that the types of people approaching me at clubs/bars/lounges were usually very sleazy and after one thing. It’s the same grotesque kind that have the audacity to ask for your number when they’re parked up in their cars or stopped at traffic lights.
3. Social gatherings – yes these happen once in a (rare) while but it’s highly likely that I’d be familiar with everyone there already!
4. Meeting people at work… hmm, not a big fan of mixing business with pleasure but okay I wouldn’t rule it out. As long as we worked in very different departments! It’s how I met one of my exes to be fair… but clearly that didn’t last (nothing to do with work, tell you about it later) but truthfully… finding a potential partner when I’m at work is the last thing on my mind!
5. Meeting people through friends – I find it very cringeworthy when a friend tries to play matchmaker. Not to mention that I don’t trust their taste and judgement in character! Lol! Sorry guys!! …Look, it’s not like I straight up say no, I do ask for a few details and a photo. Then I’ll get a response like: “Yeah so he works with me, he’s really nice, super smart but… he does dabble in drugs.”
A couple years back, with a lot of convincing from my old work colleagues, I finally gave in and created a few accounts across 4 dating apps. Tinder – which lasted for about an hour. Plenty of Fish… well, that’s another topic for later. OKCupid – great for blog fodder. Bumble – meh, guys look good, not much substance though.
Since it was unfamiliar territory, I asked my colleagues (a bunch of lads) how it all worked. Apparently the best way to find “hot chicks” was to continuously swipe right on everyone, then save the filtering for after… “it’s the most efficient way of getting matches” they claimed. Erm… sure? Except I wasn’t looking for “hot chicks”!
Not many females I know use dating apps (I can see why!) so I had to figure out my own filtering style. And seeing as photos are the first thing people look at, I’ve listed the kind that instantly make me swipe left:
USING ON PHOTO (EVEN IF IT’S A GOOD ONE) I can’t trust that.
MYSTERIOUS PHOTOS Wearing sunglasses in every photo. Blurry photos.
HALF NAKED/GYM POSERS/AB SHOTS No.
THROWING UP GANG SIGNS Are you not like… 37?
PHOTOS OF PRIZED POSESSIONS Cars, properties, gadgets… *yawn*
WTF PHOTOS i.e close up of a beard, close up of an eye, a photo of a garden shovel.
SOMEONE I RECOGNISE FROM SCHOOL/WORK OMG.
…okay, that’s the first stage of filtering out of the way.
The second filtering stage focuses more on the substance. Below are things I find rather off-putting or consider deal breakers:
CHEESY QUOTES/STATEMENTS i.e. “Live laugh love.” or “I’m looking for my partner in crime.”
NO BIO/MINIMAL EFFORT “Ask and find out.” – This displays laziness to me. Make some effort please? Bullet points will suffice.
THIS KINDA STUFF… “Hookups”, “I’m only here for the weekend”, “Want to have fun”, “I’m very kinky and need a submissive woman”
WEIRD NAMES i.e. Rubber Alien (the dude was wearing a gimp suit), Black Magic, FootSlave, Mr. Nice Guy
“HAVE KIDS” Works for some. Just not for me unfortunately.
“ENTREPRENEUR” OR “SELF EMPLOYED” I fully respect anyone that has their own business and built it from the ground up… and if I can see that displayed on their profile, it’s all good. From personal experience, I find that the genuine people will include the name of their company. The “dreamers” however… they like to talk a good game. You’re basically unemployed.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE That’s their business. I’m not judging but it’s a deal breaker for me.
So there you have it! My two stages of filtering. It’s much easier to be cut throat when you know what you want and don’t want. The only thing left after second stage is to figure out whether these “normal” people are actually wearing a mask!
At this point, some conversation would have started and that’s when the third stage of filtering kicks in… it’s a bit tricky from here but don’t play detective too much, you don’t want to kill the vibe with a nice, genuine person!
Oh and please don’t go stalking them on Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn (unless you really feel the need to). The best thing to do is just enjoy getting to know each other, go out on dates, have fun, don’t set any expectations but also:
1. Don’t neglect that intuition! 2. Be aware of red flags! 3. Don’t lower your standards out of desperation/fear of loneliness!
I think this post is going to be quite an interesting subject for most! It’s not one for the sensitive folk and I spit facts only so please don’t get emotional if you disagree with something I say. For the sake of mixing it up a bit, I’ve decided to open with a few random “fun” facts about myself and then I have a confession to make!
So… I have never:
1. Had a one night stand 2. Cheated 3. Been a mistress (as far as I’m aware!) 4. Been drunk to the point where I’ve blacked out 5. Taken any illegal drugs (weed is not a drug, don’t go there with me please) 6. Had a threesome/foursome/any-some 7. Been intimate with a person of the same sex
Yes people, I am relatively well behaved!
Okay… now that’s off my chest, it’s confession time…
So what have I done?
Well, a while ago… I dipped my toes in the FWB movement!
You know those articles you read online about how complicated or tricky it can get? They weren’t lying! I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a lot of fun in the moment but personally I don’t think it’s a relationship that can withstand consistently for the long-term.
Here’s the thing…
FWB type-relationships are not for the weak! The lines can get blurred very quickly. You have to be a certain type of person to enter this kind of territory, and unfortunately not everyone is cut out to compartmentalise sex… as well as be ruthless and impassive throughout the process. If anyone reading this post is thinking about adding “benefits” to a friendship… please let me give you a word of advice: if you get jealous easily, have an anxious attachment style or are secretly yearning for an actual relationship – sorry dear, I’m afraid FWB isn’t for you.
People will enter the FWB world thinking that it’s an easy arrangement, but unless you’ve set boundaries and have good communication with your friend – most people will end up suffering from the same problems found in normal relationships, i.e. mismatched expectations, jealousy, unspoken motives, etc.
I was with my FWB for 6 months – which is much longer than what I expected to be honest! It was never planned, it kind of just happened out of nowhere. As it stands, we don’t talk as much as before but we’re still on good terms with each other. I’d still consider him as a friend, to the point where if I dropped him a text now, we’d end up having a nice chit chat about whatever (he’d probably secretly think I was trying to get back in his boxers too – boy please) but thankfully we put an end to our “thing” without having any bad blood between us.
We first got talking a little while back when he added me on Facebook. At the time, he was more of an acquaintance so we were re-introducing ourselves, discussed our mutual friends, music, films, hobbies, family, career goals… the usual stuff when you’re getting to know someone. He eventually asked me if I wanted to get dinner and drinks with him, but out of respect for my partner at the time (sorry, I don’t use the term “boyfriend”), I declined. We kept in touch every so often but conversations slowly fizzled out.
A few months later, I’d broken up with my partner and coincidentally, someone decided to slide into my DMs… like almost immediately! Seriously, it was as if an alert got triggered the second I was back on the single market! Lol! We started talking again then eventually I agreed to meet up with him…on multiple occasions! We had the craziest, most hilarious times together! We bonded so much and done all sorts: dinner, cinema, went for long drives, shisha, shopping, clubbing! I recall one of our wildest nights when we knocked back (I’m not kidding) about 10 drinks each by 10:00pm! And by 3:00am… I was hurling my guts up on the street and (bless him!) he was moving my hair out the way, calling me Uber whilst dealing with being intoxicated himself! It was diabolical! 🤦🏻♀️ He sat in the Uber with me all the way back, walked me to my door, took the house keys out of my bag, opened my door (as I could barely function), then actually walked me into my house! It was a mess! He then turned around to jump back in the Uber… which had already left without him! So the poor guy had to call another! Whoops.
So yeah, as you can imagine we spent a lot of time together and developed a really good friendship. Then one day, we agreed to watch Netflix and chill together… surely I don’t need to elaborate any further? And from that moment, I understood the definition of FWB.
Initially, nothing changed as such, we still went out together, had laughs, had deep conversations… but gradually some new things were introduced to our “relationship”, which ultimately confused the hell out of me. It never helps when you’re an over thinker as well! Firstly, it was staying at each others’ houses – regularly! Then there was the pillow talk, the cuddles, the hand holding… which developed into taking mini trips away together, celebrating my birthday over the weekend. Erm excuse me, what is this!?!?!
On top of all of that, I was still active on dating apps. I had a couple guys asking me out… but it felt wrong to say yes? Yet I had every right to do what I wanted. As silly as it may sound to some of you, I did feel some sort of loyalty towards my FWB. Ugh, and realistically, having another guy in the mix – I couldn’t think of anything worse! It would only mean having an additional thing to think about. Plus I’m too much of an honest person and do have morals! Maybe this was all in my head but my goodness… my brain was overloaded with thoughts.
Anyway, I decided to put dating on the back-burner but soon realised that I was becoming too attached to my FWB (oh God, here we go), and this is how I knew: I started to get annoyed with him about stupid things like… not making me a priority, not coming to this museum or that new restaurant with me, him not staying the night! Then I was pissed off about the fact that I wasn’t dating other guys due to my “loyalty” to him. Then I got frustrated because I was completely confused about this situationship! …Of course, I chose not to be vocal about any of it. I had to put myself in my place and remind myself that:
1. I wasn’t his girlfriend 2. He never asked me to be loyal 3. I was allowing this situationship to continue
In conclusion, I needed to get a fucking grip and stop being ridiculous – so it was time to pull back.
…Only I didn’t pull back because I flipped out on him instead (with good reason, I like to think?)
One Saturday, I was with my friends, he was with his. We agreed to spend the evening together at his place. I drove down to the house (a little bit late), dropped him a text but did he even respond?! No. I gave the guy another 10 minutes. Nothing. My assumption was that he was probably still galavanting out and about with his friends. He didn’t even message me the next morning! I was livid and took the opportunity to call it quits right there and then. That bastard needed to be blocked. Okay, perhaps I shouldn’t of “assumed” anything… but I didn’t give a damn at this point, I wanted out. We were 6 months deep, and this FWB situationship was not bringing out my good side – it had to end.
Jumping the (situation)ship
We didn’t speak for a couple of months, he did text me a “Merry Christmas!” and a “Happy New Year!” but I ignored him. Then one day out of nowhere, we randomly bumped into each other on the street! Awkward!!! Well actually… it wasn’t awkward one bit. It felt like we were back to being good friends again. We spoke about work, holidays, family, general chit chat, joked around, he made sure I still had his number (lol!) and from there, we continued our friendship as normal. We even discussed why we fell out/what had happened, cleared the air and remained cordial up until this day!
It’s a peculiar one because once I decide to end things, no matter what the circumstance, I want them out of my life for good. I cut ties, block them on all platforms, get rid of their shit and couldn’t care less from there onwards. The FWB situation was very different, and it’s because the friendship was so key, and was always the priority. Yes, I was pissed off near the end but he was never the issue. Whilst we both knew it was never a conventional romantic relationship, the FWB arrangement was exclusively between us and so we had the element of respect and trust towards each other.
Having a FWB was a great experience but it’s not as cut and dry as you’d think, especially if you’re someone who is more inclined to having long term relationships. I admit, I like the idea of romance, stability and commitment. I like a guy showing affection in public and vice versa. If I find myself developing feelings for someone, I wouldn’t want to hold back because of the boundaries put in place. Above all, it’s not worth the hassle to be in your head all the time, feeling anxious or irritated, trying to figure out how to act, what to say and so on.
Looking back, I’d say I was quite lucky to share the experience with this particular friend. It was one of the most fun and exciting periods in my dating history. Him being attractive obviously helped massively (haha!) but having common interests, the same sense of humour, same values and mindset, made it all the more enjoyable.
Would I consider having a FWB again? Nah, count me out. I have no desire to explore that ground again. I don’t have any regrets but I know it’s not for me. For the sake of my sanity, I would rather avoid placing myself in problematic situations; I already find normal relationships a ball ache! Time and experiences like these have aided me in recognising what I want and what I definitely don’t want.
If you are currently in a FWB “relationship”, then I hope you know where to draw the line. Otherwise, if you find yourself acting up, similar to the way I did; then my suggestion would be to take the other option – abandon ship and salvage the friendship!
Basically the ideal FWB relationship is one where people enjoy sex, live close to each other and have a genuine interest in the happenings of the other person but are still too wrapped up in themselves to worry about the other person.
– Taken from an article I read. Ain’t that the truth!