The Psychology of the Backup Boyfriend or Girlfriend
This guest post was primarily written by Nicole Wedberg, M.A.
Imagine this scenario: Pam is engaged to Roy. Pam also has a close friend at work — his name is Jim. Pam and Jim enjoy each other’s company, buy each other the occasional vending machine snack, listen to each other’s complaints about work, etc. If you’ve seen The Office, you know exactly how this story ends.
At first, we try to accept that Jim is in the friend zone, but this just isn’t so. It’s impossible to deny that they have chemistry — Jim is not merely a friend.
As the story unfolds (sorry for the spoiler!), Pam and Roy’s relationship ends, a new relationship begins with Pam and Jim, and the two of them go on to live happily ever after.
You could argue here that Jim started out as Pam’s “backup” boyfriend — he was waiting in the bull pen and ready to step up to the plate the moment Roy was benched. Whether Pam was consciously aware of the fact that she had a backup boyfriend is another matter, but objectively that’s exactly what Jim was.
I think this is a familiar scenario to a lot of people in the real world, and that’s what makes it so relatable in the show. Even women who are already with Mr.
Right (Jim, in our example) sometimes still have a Mr. Plan B … just in case. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me when I was in graduate school.
I bartended nights and weekends, and I couldn’t help but notice this phenomenon going on around me.
Romantic Partner Insurance As a Mating Strategy
Humans employ a wide array of mating strategies (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000). The research here focused on some of the mating strategies of heterosexual women. Prior research has shown that women will actually modify their behavior depending on what type of relationship they’re looking for (Cashdan, 1993). Those looking to settle down with Mr.
Right will dress with more elegance and emphasize behaviors that indicate loyalty and an interest in fidelity. Those looking for more of a Mr. Right Now will flaunt their sexuality a bit more. Even among other women on the prowl, female mating strategies morph into something more competitive.
Those who are generally more narcissistic in nature tend to display intrasexual competition more frequently than others (Carter, Montanaro, Linney, & Campbell, 2015).
An example of this might be one woman giving another a false compliment — telling a woman at the bar that you love her shoes, when actually you think your crush will find them hideous, is one way to try and eliminate some competition for your desired mate. It’s not a very kind approach, but it happens.
So how does this relate to Pam? I looked into existing research to see if this “backup” boyfriend idea had ever been studied. As it turns out, Dibble et al. (2015) found that college women, on average, have 3.78 Mr. Plan B's.
In fact, roughly two-thirds of all college students who are in a committed relationship openly admit to having at least one Mr./Ms. Plan B (Dibble et al., 2015).
I decided to narrow my sample to only heterosexual women and study this a bit more in-depth.
First, I had to define what it was that I was actually studying. With the help of Glenn (who was my thesis advisor), and other members of the New Paltz Evolutionary Psychology Lab, I coined the term “partner insurance.
” Just as you might have homeowner’s insurance in the unfortunate event that your house burns down, maybe women have partner insurance — a backup boyfriend, ready and waiting in case your current relationship burns down.
If this is indeed a discernible phenomenon, A) how do we measure it, and B) what predicts it?
Measuring the Tendency to Have a Backup Boyfriend
To answer the first question, we created a new scale, called the Plan B Proclivity Scale (PBP). It measures the degree to which women consider their closest platonic male friend a romantic “backup plan.
” It includes items that participants rated with a close male friend in mind from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” A couple examples of these items are: “I’m fairly sure that, if given the chance, this person would want to date me,” and “I discuss personal things with this person.
” At the end of the scale, we offered a dichotomous “yes or no” question to participants: “Separate from anything else, would you say that, in your life, you have a heterosexual male friend that you consider to be a 'Plan B'?” The answer to this question lumped participants into a category of either having partner insurance or not having partner insurance. (Note: In Part II, we will present that scale in full and will provide a scoring key — so stay tuned.)
Predictors of Having a Backup Boyfriend
To answer the second question (What predicts this phenomenon?), we have to examine heterosexual female mating strategies through a Darwinian lens.
We already know that humans have evolved to utilize a variety of mating strategies, so perhaps partner insurance is just another one.
From an evolutionary perspective, considering that fitness is measured strictly by the number of offspring one produces into future generations; it might actually be adaptive for a woman to have a Mr. Plan B lined up.
If anything were to happen with the current relationship that caused its demise, raising children alone would be awfully tough. Having an insurance plan for your love life would increase the probably of genetic success. If partner insurance is indeed another one of these female mating strategies, we need to figure out what predicts it.
Relationship satisfaction seemed an obvious place to start. Folks start looking and interviewing for new jobs when they’re unhappy in their current position.
We can easily argue that someone unhappy in her current relationship may start to wander and look for other romantic opportunities.
Sure enough, those who rated their current committed relationship with low satisfaction were significantly more ly to indicate that yes, they had partner insurance.
“Sociosexual orientation” is a fun term that essentially describes an individual’s attitude, behavior, and desire for commitment-free sex.
Prior research has demonstrated that having an unrestricted sociosexual orientation predicts a desire for preferred mating traits in opposite-sex platonic friends (Lewis, Al-Shawaf, Conroy-Beam, Asao, & Buss, 2012).
Simply explained, this means that if you score relatively high on the scale measuring sociosexual orientation (SOI-R), you’re more ly to have non-romantic opposite-sex friends who are very much what you are attracted to in terms of romantic partners.
This was a huge sign to me that something could be going on here. Lo and behold, women with an unrestricted sexual orientation are significantly more ly to report that they also have partner insurance.
An unexpected predictor of partner insurance turned out to be age. After discovering this finding, I had a bit of a “Duh!” moment. In hindsight, it makes so much sense. Younger women in the sample were significantly more ly to report having partner insurance than were older women in the sample.
The reason this was retrospectively obvious to me is partly due to the nature of menopause. From a strictly evolutionary and biological perspective, once a female has surpassed the ability to reproduce, she has no reproductive need to have backup mates lined up.
It could also be the case that partner insurance is simply a younger woman's game that women tend to grow . Who knows!?
Personality, of course, occurred to me as a potential predictor as well — after all, if those who are more narcissistic engage in more competitive mating strategies, maybe they are also more ly have a high Plan-B proclivity.
The Dark Triad (Paulhus & Williams, 2002) measures three different, but related personality traits — Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. I predicted that women scoring high in these traits may be more ly to have a Mr.
Plan B, and sure enough, that is exactly how the data panned out.
Women who report being generally more socially manipulative, emotionally apathetic, and overly concerned with themselves are significantly more ly to have a high Plan-B proclivity than do others, thus supporting the prediction that Dark Triad personality traits serve as a function of increased sexual competition, as well as short-term mating strategies.
So, when all is said and done, what are we looking at? I found that 20 percent of heterosexual women in committed relationships — one in five — will report having a Mr. Plan B.
My research here provides support to the idea of partner insurance being a possible mating strategy among heterosexual women.
To the extent that women in committed relationships may consider their closest male platonic friend to be a backup romantic partner, we also now have a new scale that measures this phenomenon (to be provided in full, with a scoring key, in Part II of this post!).
As to whether this is a wise or good mating strategy is a whole other matter. Speaking completely anecdotally, I’m guessing Pam and Jim are the exception to the rule, and that Mr. Plan B’s rarely become Mr. Plan A’s. Further research is needed to find out (What are your plans for your master's thesis in psychology?).
This post is Nicole Wedberg's Master's thesis, which was successfully defended in the Psychology Department at the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2016.
100 Cute Things To Say To Your Boyfriend
Do you know any nice things to say to your boyfriend, or are you always looking for inspiration when it comes to expressing your feelings to him? Are you able to make him understand how special he is in your life, how much you love him, and how he has become the center of your existence? Not everyone has the gift of gab, especially for expressing matters of the heart. If you are always looking for some cute things to say to your boyfriend and are at a loss for the right words, here is a helping hand.
Why Saying Romantic Things to Your Boyfriend Is Important?
Contrary to common belief, men crave for loving, romantic and endearing words just as much as women do. If you want to put a smile on his face and keep the romance hot, learn to say sweet things to your boyfriend at every opportunity you get.
You can text him, tell him in person or drop him an email. Let him know you love him, cherish him and appreciate him with loving words. To help you say the cutest things, here is a list of 100 romantic things you could tell your boyfriend. Use this for inspiration to get you started in the right direction.
#1 Every time I hear your footsteps approaching, my heart skips a beat.
#2 I never thought I’d love you so very much. Come to think of it, I never knew I could love anyone as much as I love you.
#3 I cannot imagine my life without you. I don’t want to imagine my life without you.
#4 I don’t think I will survive if anything ever happens to you.
#5 Stay safe, my love, for my heart beats inside your chest.
#6 God must have loved me so much to have sent you in my life as my life partner. There could be no one better than you for me.
#7 You’re the only person in this world whom I can trust with anything. You’re the only person with whom I have no secrets.
#8 Every time I look at you, I realize how lucky I am to have you in my life – and I give God a quiet “thank you.”
#9 Only you have the knack of making my heart beat faster with only one look, one touch!
#10 For you, my love, anything is possible!
#11 I love you so much it hurts! You’re the most wonderful man ever!
#12 There is no feeling more beautiful than to wake up in your arms.
#13 Happiness… thy name is (name of your boyfriend), the man who still knows how to make a woman feel a queen.
#14 Your kisses make me weak at the knees… forget about going to work today…
#15 I must have done something right in my life; how else would I get the only perfect man in this whole world?
#16 You are perfect in every sense of the word, and I love you for it.
#17 There is nowhere I would rather be than in your arms.
#18 My love, home is where you are.
#19 Someone asked me today at work, “Why are you smiling? Is there any good news?” Only then, I realized that I’ve been thinking of you!
#20 You are the cleverest person I have met, and I have met plenty of people in my lifetime.
#21 Receiving a text from you is the highlight of my day.
#22 You make me feel I am 16 years old and in love for the first time!
#23 Thank you for being the greatest blessing of my life.
#24 When you hold my hand, the world ceases to exist for me.
#25 I love my mum very much; I never thought I could love anyone as much, and here you are!
#26 I could listen to you talking forever; I love to hear your voice.
#27 You’re the most precious thing I have in my life. I feel so blessed.
#28 I love the way you smile, the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you sleep. I love everything about you.
#29 Hey love, you wanted to go for that “all-guys” outing. What happened to it? Don’t worry about me; I fully understand.
#30 How come you look so awfully handsome in everything you wear? Even in pajamas, you are a total knockout!
#31 You are the one I want to grow old with; never leave my side, my love.
#32 I wish I could see you every moment of the day. Miss you terribly.
#33 You are my knight in shining armor!
#34 I don’t even know how you put up with me; I can’t put up with me most times.
#35 You are the kindest, most wonderful human being I know!
#36 I love your gifts. Everything is so carefully chosen to make me happy. Thank you for being so thoughtful. Thank you for loving me!
#37 If I could go back in time, I might change most of the things and leave only one thing untouched – knowing you!
#38 I don’t know how I could ever have gone through life without you. You’re wonderful!
#39 Only you can make me smile, even when I am totally messed up.
#40 Oh my God! I must have gotten the last gallant man on earth. This breed has been extinct for some time.
#41 You are everything I wanted in my life partner and much more.
#42 Thank you for all the beautiful things you do for me.
#43 You set my heart racing!
#44 You’re looking good enough to eat today!
#45 I love you! Wish I could tell you how much!
#46 I have never seen a guy driving as good as you do. It’s you become a part of the car.
#47 All my friends love you! Now, they are looking for boyfriends who look you!
#48 You’re amazing! You always give me just the right advice.
#49 I love the way your muscles show through your shirt! Do you know how handsome you are?
#50 You’re one special guy! You must have downed at least 10 glasses, and you’re still bright as a new penny!
#51 I the way you go after your goals! It’s simply amazing to see you at work.
#52 You make the best martinis in town.
#53 You’re perfect in bed and it! I am the luckiest girl alive!
#54 When I am with you, nothing scares me, nothing worries me, nothing bothers me. I feel safe.
#55 I the way you bond with the guys. I to see that side of you!
#56 I am so proud of your convictions! It takes a lot of courage and drive to do what you do!
#57 Hey, you are a gorgeous hunk, aren’t you! Looking at you, I think, “Man! I am lucky!”
#58 I respect the way you stick to your principles, even when things go against you! You are remarkable!
#59 You are a man of your word! I admire that the most about you! Where do you find men of honor, today?
#60 You’re incredibly clever! I would have never thought of that. You never cease to amaze me.
#61 Whenever I look at you, I see a gentleman! They don’t make men you anymore, my love!
#62 You have the most attractive voice ever! I feel weak at the knees, when I hear you call out my name!
#63 Nobody can cook you… How can you be perfect at everything you do!
#64 My life would never be the same without you! You’re the greatest blessing I have from God, and I am grateful!
#65 Meeting you was the best thing that could happen to me. I don’t think I want anything more from my life.
#66 You are everything I dreamt to have in a man, and I don’t know if I really deserve such a wonderful gift.
#67 I love hanging out with you – everything is fun with you, even things I never d before.
#68 You are a magician. When I am with you, nothing bad comes to me.
#69 No one plays this game better than you! You are too good at this thing! I bet you beat them all.
#70 I see you come to my bed day after day and never cease to wonder – what have I done to get this gorgeous, kind man to love me.
#71 With you at my side, I can take on the whole world and win!
#72 I’d to be stranded with you on an island, where there is no one else, but you and I.
#73 I love the way your nose wrinkles when you laugh. You look so handsome that I could kiss you .
#74 I am thinking of you right now, and I want to feel your hands around me.
#75 You totally and completely rock my world! No one has ever made me feel this way!
#76 I feel proud to be your girl. You’re the most remarkable man I have met!
#77 You’re the kind of man a woman s to take home to meet her parents.
#78 The sweetness of last night still lingers in my mind! I love you!
#79 My body craves you I am addicted to you! I can hardly wait to have you in my arms again.
#80 No man has every touched my heart the way you do. It’s my heart, but it beats to your command.
#81 I never knew that I could be this happy, until I met you. You’ve changed me, you’ve changed my world, you’ve changed the way I see the world. Thank you for being mine.
#82 You made this evening unforgettable. Do you know how sexy you are?
#83 You look so handsome, today. I can hardly bear looking at you! Do I dare to let you go out in this bad, bad world?
#84 The sexiest man alive! And he is mine!! God must really love me!
#85 Every day with you is a special gift! Things can’t get better than this!
#86 “Lived happily ever after…!” I have heard this so often and always cut it down. “This cannot happen in real life!” Then, I met you. Now, I am a believer.
#87 Why do you love me so much? Why are you so perfect? Why does my heart jump at the sight of you?
#88 I am so in love with you! You make me feel a princess.
#89 You are my soulmate.
#90 I look at you, and I want to rush and hug you! Why are you so goddamned good looking!
#91 The way you smile when you look at me makes me want to stop time in its tracks.
#92 It warms my heart to know I am coming home, where this gorgeous, loving man is waiting for me.
#93 I want to shout out from the rooftops how lucky I am to have you in my life!
#94 My life is a celebration of goodness and happiness, because you are in it!
#95 Everything you do is thoughtful and kind. I have learnt so much from you about love!
#96 How is it possible for a man to be so thoughtful and kind? You are a special breed, you know!
#97 You complete me in every possible and imaginable way. You’ve changed my life for the best it could ever be.
#98 Hold me tight and don’t let me go. I love the way you smell; love the way your muscles feel against my skin. I love feeling your heart beating next to mine.
#99 Kiss me know! I can wait no longer to be your arms!
#100 Forever be mine!
When you search for sweet things to say to your boyfriend, remember one thing – HIM. Choose words that compliment his abilities, looks, thoughtfulness, love for you, things he does for you, etc.
When your focus is on romantic things to say to your boyfriend, focus on his body and the way he looks. Be generous with compliments. Men love to hear “I love you”, sometimes, even more than women do.
80 Things – Every Girl Loves Her Boyfriend to Do
What Girls Want Boyfriends to Do
These are the easily overlooked details a girl needs her guy to do, yet won’t request, because of modesty or dithering. A genuine man must attempt to stay away from relationship issues and attempt his best to satisfy the shrouded wants of his significant other or girlfriend.
- Send her an adorable instant message before resting.
- Send her a sentimental morning content when she awakens.
- Show a little thankfulness for her great deeds.
- Show regard for her folks and kin.
- Say something sentimental regarding their relationship on informal organizations.
- Give her unexpected visits.
- Play her preferred computer games together.
- Give a star name after her.
- Take lengthy drives together.
- Consider her during your mid-day break.
- Sing a sentimental melody for her.
- Worth her dear companions.
- Give her your full consideration when she is in a tough situation.
- Put her image in your wallet or your mobile phone.
- Advise her “I love you” from numerous points of view.
- Play adorable little games with her, find the stowaway.
- Offer her actual commendations about her apparel and haircut.
- Hold her hand tenderly when you walk together.
- Giggle at her jokes.
- Take her on an excursion to some awesome goals.
- Convey her to bed.
Things She Wants But Won’t Ask For
- Partake in her preferred music together.
- Move to her main tune.
- Acquaint her with your relatives as someone exceptional.
- Invest some energy with your companions and her companions together.
- Watch her preferred motion picture together.
- Offer her your jacket in chilly climate.
- Offer your privileged insights with her.
- Go through your end of the week with her.
- Take her to a play.
- Remain with her when she turns out to be sick or isn’t feeling great.
- Cook her preferred nourishment.
- Mastermind a candlelight supper for her.
- Get her an attentive blessing.
- Send her sentimental messages every morning.
Ten Things Every Girl Wants to Hear From a Guy
Coming up next are ten things that every lady needs to get notification from her life partner, spouse, or boyfriend.
- You are the just one for me.
- I love you.
- There are no mysteries between us.
- I have no love you in my life.
- I love your folks.
- I can’t envision my existence without you.
- Truly, you are actually so wonderful.
- Your satisfaction is essential to me.
- You are my girlfriend as well as my closest companion.
- I anticipate every single day I find a good pace you.
Sentimental Things to Do for Your Girlfriend
- Be warm and merciful towards her.
- Run your fingers gradually through her hair.
- Send her a manually written love letter.
- Send her lovely messages.
- Get her morning meal bed.
- Drive her to work.
- Make her an extravagant supper at home.
- Bring back little presents for her when you travel to another country or to some other city.
- Call her sweet epithets.
- Tenderly kiss her on the neck.
- Compose a melody for her and perform it before her.
- Invest energy doing her preferred things with her.
- Take her on an excursion.
- Have a no-telephone date with her.
Fun Things to Do for Her
- Purchase a couple of coordinating shirts, pieces of jewelry, or arm ornaments for her and yourself.
- Now and again read the lines from her preferred book.
- Do not overlook exceptional dates: your first date, her birthday, and so forth.
- Back rub her back tenderly when she gets drained.
- Take pictures together out in the open.
- Hear her out jokes without giggling.
- Offer single frozen yogurt.
- Call her 12 PM and state something interesting or sentimental.
- Supplant your Display picture with her.
- Make a joint Instagram record to impart your enjoyment minutes to the external world.
- Book a void rollercoaster only for her.
- Hear her out ly arrangements with full fixation.
- Praise her birthday in an astonishing manner.
- Covertly drop her preferred treats or chocolate into her purse.
- Plan an extraordinary shock for her. It does not need to be an amazing sentimental signal, simply ensure it’s something that she would appreciate doing.
What She Wants You to Do as Her Boyfriend
- Offer your fantasies with her.
- Be a respectable man to her folks.
- Take wellness or Yoga classes together.
- Give her a printed photograph collection of her wonderful photographs.
- Play challenge games together on Xbox or PS3.
- Wear shirts in her preferred hues.
- Bring her a bundle of her preferred roses.
- Let her nod off with her head in your lap.
- Hear her out inform you concerning how her day went.
- Convey her sacks for her.
- Make her espresso in the first part of the day.
- Take her shopping.
- Do that one thing with her that you don’t have any desire to do.
- Organize a firecrackers show particularly for her.
- Go on a random experience together
- Make a custom shirt for her.
- Go for a climb.
- Visit the zoo together.
- On the off chance that she s pets, give her a charming feline or dog.
- Propose another hairdo to her.
- At whatever point you go out to evaluate another cooking, welcome her as well.
- Content sentimental statements to her every day.
- Go to bat for her when someone prods or aggravates her.
- Continuously keep your great comical inclination at whatever point you meet her.
- Give her an adorable pet name.
Be Careful About Who You Date
You are more impressive than you understand. You have options. You do not need to acknowledge everything and everyone that comes your direction. All the time we’re slanted to express yes to circumstances since we dread that we may pass up something. This is particularly valid in relationships.
We express yes to a date or even consent to one just to check out things, all while realizing the individual isn’t somebody we would choose on a terrible day. We date forlornness.
Whatever you date is the thing that you’ll wind up in. Stop. You have options. The main thing isn’t generally the best thing. No is one of the primary words we learned as kids. Haul it out. Use it.
Would not joke about this. Give yourself the yes you merit.
Endowments Your Girlfriend Will Love
Here are some charming blessing thoughts that your girlfriend will love. Attempt to envelop these endowments with a charming sack or box. She will value the sincere and adoring signal.
Keep in touch with her a sonnet or love letter. Enrich it with some cool structures and afterward put it in an extravagant envelope. Attempt your hardest to evade buzzwords and talk from the heart.
Get her a couple of studs. Attempt to discover a style of earing that you realize she will and get them for her. At that point, every time she puts them on she will consider you and the amount you care about her.
Get her show passes. In the event that your girl s a specific band and they are going to your territory, astonishing her with a pass to the show is an extraordinary thought. Get yourself a ticket also and you can transform it into a date.