There are people in relationships still hanging on to their 'what if' person: Opinion

M. Brown

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**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Many of us have heard the expression — the one that got away — which refers to a past romantic love who may have been absolutely compatible in so many ways, yet still, somehow the relationship just didn’t work out.

It’s difficult not to pine for long-lost loves who could have worked out for so many reasons but ultimately didn’t, whether it was due to life circumstances, personal choices, or other people who got in the way.

Thankfully, a great majority of us usually find a way to move on in one way or another and are able to create and maintain new romantic relationships.

However, some people hang on to what I refer to as a ‘what if’ person — including people who are in long-term relationships or married.

A ‘what if’ person is a lot like a Plan B — only in the form of a human being.

It’s someone to fall back on if things don’t work out with a current partner. It’s usually someone who would be willing to drop everything and jump into a relationship with the individual they’re being a ‘what if’ person for.

It could be someone who is friend-zoned for the moment but has the potential to be more than that if circumstances changed — and who has essentially been placed into a ‘what if’ person holding pattern.

Lots of people don’t feel comfortable putting all of their relationship eggs into one basket, so to speak.

Imagine if things didn’t work out with a current partner for some reason. Would you immediately have another partner in mind whom you could fall back on and who would be willing to embrace you just like that?

Is having a ‘what if’ person wrong? Is it a betrayal to your current partner? Or is it simply a mechanism of human nature designed for self preservation purposes?

I don’t have a ‘what if’ person. But other people do. It could be someone who’s been pining away for quite some time. Someone who wouldn’t mind being the default relationship safety net at all.

When I sit quietly with myself and think about my marriage hypothetically ending — there’s not another person — including my exes — whom I could imagine myself falling back on.

I’d rather be alone if my current marriage ended, quite frankly.

However, there are people out there who have difficulty being alone in between relationships and many of those people probably have a ‘what if’ person quietly stationed in their back pocket — whether they realize it or not.

For those who do have one or even more than one ‘what if’ person in their mind’s eye — it may not be so much as an intentional slight to their current partner as it is just a fear of ending up alone. Humans can be ridiculously complex and confusing, especially in the realm of love and relationships.

As for me, as much as I’ve tried, I can’t locate a single ‘what if’ person in my mind who would be suitable.

What about you? Do you have a ‘what if’ person who you would immediately contact if your current relationship ended?

Do tell.

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Host of The Pondering Stepmom Podcast. Writing about relationships, lifestyle, family & self-improvement.

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