7 Signs The Person You Have On The Back Burner Is Actually Right For You

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
Happy together. Serene couple bonding to each other with delight

Many people have backup plans just in case their initial plans don't work out. In many cases, it's smart. But when it comes to love, having a relationship backup plan can get a little tricky.

A 2015 study published in the journal Communication Quarterly, found that college-aged women have about four Plan B's at a given time, and nearly two-thirds of students in relationships say they have at least one. It's sometimes known as "cushioning" or having a back burner relationship. Regardless of what you choose to call it, having a backup plan is common whether you're in a relationship or not.

"I've seen people in totally happy and committed relationships do it and people dissatisfied with their relationships do it," Nicolle Osequeda, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Lincoln Park Therapy Group, tells Bustle. "Usually it means the individual is fearing closeness and vulnerability with their partner and thinks that this backup will protect them if they get hurt."

Having a backup plan will likely prevent you from having a truly close and connected relationship with your current partner. According to Osequeda, many people will have backup plans when they're feeling ambivalent about their current partner. If you're already one foot out the door, there must be a reason why you aren't completely sold on your current relationship.

"I believe that there are many people out there that we would be compatible with, but some matches lead to happier, more fulfilling, and healthier relationships," Lauren O’Connell, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.

If you don't feel like your current partner is "The One," maybe your backup plan is. Here are some signs that your backup plan is actually the right one for you, according to experts.


You Can Be Your True Authentic Self Around Them


It's hard to feel completely seen and heard in your relationship when you feel like you have to hold yourself back. Being with "The One" means that you'll never feel the need to hide parts of yourself that you feel like your partner won't like. "If you find yourself able to be truly yourself, with vulnerability and lacking fear of judgement, then that’s probably the best match for you," Kelsey M. Latimer, Ph.D., CEDS-S, a psychologist who specializes in relationships and founder of Hello Goodlife, tells Bustle. But if you’re only dating Plan A because it "should" work on paper and it’s the logical choice, it’s probably not going to end in your favor.


You Have A Solid Friendship

A 2016 State University of New York study found that many women choose a close friend to be their backup plan. Having a strong foundation of friendship is one of the keys to making a relationship last. A good friend just gets you and always has your back.

"Having a great partner is fine," relationship expert and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle. "But when you know that you can count on them to support you, and they'll be there through thick and thin, that's a great indicator that you have found 'The One.'"


You Trust Them Completely


Trust is esential to have in a relationship. You can't have a successful lasting relationship without it. When there's trust in your relationship, you won't ever have to question your partner's words or actions. You believe what they say and won't look for any hidden meanings. You can just relax, fully enjoy the relationship you have, and work on nurturing your bond.

"Accountability, honesty, and good communication skills help build trust," Rappaport says. "If you find that you can trust your backup plan completely, start looking at all of the other things that are working." Your backup plan could very well be the right one.


You're Compatible

"If you meet someone you have great passion and chemistry with, but they want to live on the other side of the world and you don’t, there’s a good chance it won’t work out," O’Connell says. While it's great to have passion and chemistry, it can only take you so far. In order to have a relationship that lasts, you need to be with someone who shares your values, lifestyle, and goals for the future. You may not see your backup plan as part of your future right now. But if you're compatible in all the ways that really count, they may be worth giving a shot.


You Have A Genuine Connection


It's not easy to find a genuine connection with just anyone. If you feel like you have that type of connection with your backup plan, you're already off to a great start. As Audrey Hope, relationship counselor and spiritual therapist, tells Bustle, "The right person will get you right away and say things that speak to your heart." They'll somehow know what you need from them without you needing to ask. For example, if you're having a bad day, they'll notice a difference in your mood and they'll do what they can to cheer you up. They just know and understand you.


They Encourage You To Be Your Best Self

It may not have been love at first sight and the chemistry with your backup plan may not be as intense as with previous partners, but if they're your biggest cheerleader, they may be a keeper. The right person for you will not only make you feel comfortable being yourself, they'll push you to keep growing. "This is a person who inspires you to take better care of yourself, pursue your passions, and is supportive of you in ways that are good for you," O’Connell says. You'll want a partner who can do this for you if you want a relationship that lasts.


It Always Feels Easy Being Around Them


If it feels easy being around your backup plan, they may be the right one for you. As Christine Scott-Hudson, marriage and family therapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle, "Pay attention to the ease in which you can speak from your heart. ... If you can easily say what you feel, you're likely with the right person for you." If you never have to censor yourself or feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them, these are signs that you feel emotionally safe. That's how you should feel when you're with the right person. If you feel more relaxed around your backup plan than your current partner, you may want to reconsider if you're really in the right relationship.

People have backup plans for many different reasons. If you have one because you're unsure of your current relationship, think about the qualities your backup plan has that your current partner does not. If you notice any of these signs, your backup plan may be the right one for you.

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