Are You A Standby Lover? 15 Signs You Are A Backup Boyfriend

Dating experience | |
Updated On: May 4, 2024
Are You A Standby Lover

The dynamics of dating are becoming more and more complex by the day. From bread crumbing to ghosting and benching, new trends keep mushrooming every now and again. Just when you thought you had a good grasp on the goings-on in the dating world, something new comes up. One such trend doing the rounds is of backburner relationships. 

According to a study, this type of relationship is one where a potential love interest is kept alive as a backup option. A person keeps stringing the other along but does not commit to the relationship or get romantically involved. This kind of relationship is heartbreaking and leaves the person at the receiving end with the status of a backup boyfriend or girlfriend.

Relationship Or Backup Plan – Know The Difference

Typically, in these relationships, one person is committed and wants a long term relationship while the other is simply biding their time for someone better to come along. There are enough troublesome relationship signs and red flags that tell you that she is just toying with your heart and leading you on even though there is no intent to take things forward.

The same study also suggests that this tendency to keep being on the lookout for a new, better prospective partner while keeping one as a backup is considered normal behavior among human beings. The trouble is that most people fail to identify that they are being treated as a backup plan and get emotionally invested in the relationship. Even if they show signs of being in a relationship, they either do not want to acknowledge the writing on the wall or feel incapable of doing something about it.

Who Is A Backup Boyfriend?

You ought to understand backup lover meaning in the true sense to be able to identify with certainty whether you have been segregated to that role. A backup boyfriend is someone who believes he is in a committed, exclusive relationship when he is just a standby lover. This person does the duties of a boyfriend, without any assurances from the girl he is involved with. The girl, in turn, relies on him as a safety net in case her other pursuits don’t work out or she does not see anyone ‘better’ in the horizon.

Typically, a backup boyfriend is the quintessential good man to get married to and who is also liked by the girl’s parents. He may not be exceptionally good-looking and have an average lifestyle and career, but he checks all the boxes needed to get the family’s blessings for the relationship. A guy who falls in the category of a backup plan may not inspire excitement in a girl but he sure brings the promise of stability. Therefore, he is always the penultimate choice. However, a standby lover has genuine feelings for the girl, which puts him in a vulnerable place and gives the girl the power to manipulate his emotions as she likes.

Related Reading: Confession Story: Emotional Cheating Vs Friendship – The Blurry Line

15 Signs You Are Her Backup Plan – A Backup Boyfriend

Having a backup plan is a sign of good future planning, except in case of relationships. A backup relationship can quickly turn into a complicated mess that inflicts a lot of pain and heartbreak on the person who is emotionally invested. It can be miserable for you if you find out that your girl is keeping you as a backup plan and not a priority.

If you are wondering if every girl has a backup boyfriend or asking yourself “Am I her backup plan?” or “Why is she keeping me around?”, allow us to help you. To be able to take a call on whether or not you want to continue being a standby lover for someone, you first need to evaluate the situation well and figure out how to tell if a girl is using you as a backup. Start by looking out for these 15 signs she feels you can only be a backup:

1. The girl continues the relationship on her terms

While she does talk to you and hang out with you, she does not fully commit herself to you and establishes certain boundaries in your relationship that you must follow. For example, she might forbid you from posting pictures of you both on your social media or hesitate in being seen in public with you. She might even tell you to never call her unless she says it is okay. You have never hung out with – or even been introduced to – her friends. If you see this pattern in your relationship, the answer to ‘is she keeping me as a backup?’ becomes apparent.

2. She doesn’t discuss exclusivity

One of the signs she’s keeping her options open is when she doesn’t discuss exclusivity with you. You hang out with each other, go to the movies together, have lunch and dinner dates. From the looks of it, it seems like any other normal relationship but there is no exclusivity. Your girlfriend tries her best to evade any discussion on the topic. Despite it being a romantic relationship, she will not accept giving it a status of exclusivity and will continue to use dating apps and flirt with other men.

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3. She avoids physical intimacy

Avoiding physical intimacy could be one of the answers to your “Am I her backup plan” question. This is one of the major signs you’re her second choice. Since what you have with her is just a backup relationship, she will shy away from being physically intimate with you. She will avoid intimacy physical contact and advances at all costs. This means not being with you in a personal space such as your place or hers, or not going on vacations with you.

4. She seems distracted when she is with you

Do you notice your girlfriend is distracted around you? Do you feel she is not interested in what you have to say? When you share your problems with her, she probably brushes them off rather than offering advice or trying to comfort you. Besides, you never get an insight into her vulnerabilities. A better part of your time together is spent with her checking her phone or being more interested in the surroundings than you. If yes, you are dealing with one of the typical signs you are an option to her and not someone she’s in love with.

Related Reading: Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You Back

5. She’s not available on weekends too

This could be one of the signs you’re just an option to her. Forget taking out time for you during the week, she doesn’t even have time for you on weekends and holidays. Your suggestions to meet or hang out are shot down with a standard ‘I’m busy‘ excuse. You have the answer to ‘is she keeping me as a backup’ question, if all her plans revolved around her friends and other people in her life and you don’t even feature on her list of priorities.

standby lover
Girl saying no to sex

6. Her social media is abuzz with other guys

You can be sure you’re in a backup relationship when not only is there no exclusivity but also a swarm of other guys to compete with. While she is not cool with social media posts regarding the two of you, her accounts are full of photos and posts with these other guys. This could well mean that these others in her life are part of her backup plan, or worse, that are the options she’s pursuing while keeping you as a standby lover. It does make one wonder “why is she keeping me around?”

7. You have never met her close friends

This is one of the most obvious tips on how to tell if a girl is using you as a backup. You are the quintessential backup boyfriend if your so-called partner does everything in her power to make sure that you do not meet her close friends. This is primarily because she doesn’t want you to think that things are taking a serious turn. Even if you insist, she’d probably make some excuse or the other to get out of it.

8. She does not share things with you

Again one of the most important signs you’re her second choice. Her achievements, joys, fears, worries, vulnerabilities – she does not share these things with you. You constantly live with this nagging feeling that she is emotionally distant and you are not her go-to person. This is among the unmistakable signs she feels you can only be a backup. She could be dealing with a crisis on the professional or personal front, and you will find out weeks later rather than when she is stressed about it. She only wants your attention, not you.

9. The girl is not emotionally invested in the relationship

Another indicator of a backup relationship is that your partner is not emotionally invested in the relationship or you simply because you are her second choice. Typically, when you are dating someone, they become the focus on your life. If she isn’t bothered by distance in the relationship, it’s time to read the writing on the wall. This is one of the most obvious signs you’re just an option to her.

10. Yet, she can’t bear the idea of you moving on

When you do try to snap out of this unfulfilling relationship and move on, she will go out of her way to make sure that does not work out. You will suddenly see her become jealous and overprotective . If you’re truly madly in love with this girl, this gesture may be enough to melt your heart and make you stay. But do remember she’s doing this only because she doesn’t want to lose her backup boyfriend and not because she loves you.

Am I her backup plan Infographic
Signs you’re her standby lover

11. Any confrontations lead to dramatic reactions

Whenever you try to confront her about her behavior pattern, she invariably ends up crying and being unreasonably dramatic. Even if you try to break up with her, she will use every trick in the book to keep you committed to the so-called relationship with her. That’s only because she wants to string you along for as long as possible as her backup plan. Don’t let this behavior sway you or fill you with the fear of losing her. You need to know what she wants out of this relationship for the sake of your sanity and well-being.

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12. She backs out of plans last minute

Whenever you make a plan to do something together, more often than not she will cancel at the last minute in case there is something that needs her attention. Let’s say you have a romantic date planned but her friends are going partying. She thinks that the latter will be more fun and so cancels her plans with you without hesitation. You may have spent a lot of money and time planning this date but she is not considerate of your efforts.

Of course, there are certain exceptional situations where other commitments take precedence over our love life. But if this behavior is more a norm than an exception, you are not her priority. The sooner you realize that this one of the worrying signs she’s keeping her options open, the better it will be for you.

13. Dating her is turning out to be expensive

When you’re the backup boyfriend, you will also be treated like a cash cow that can be milked whenever needed. If she is behind on rent or can’t afford that pair of shoes she really needs, she will come to you to ask you to help her out. She will never offer to pitch in when you are out together and will expect you to pay for movies, dinner, etc. So, instead of building a good physical and emotional connection with you, her focus is on how to benefit from this relationship. You’re probably thinking if every girl has a backup boyfriend. While that is not true, it is possible that your lady is treating you like a standby lover.

14. She compares you to other guys

The girl who is stringing you along as her backup plan will probably keep comparing you to the other guys in her life. She will keep finding faults in you and use your vulnerabilities to make you feel inadequate and small. If you cook something for her, she will tell you how her guy best friend makes it much better. If you take her somewhere, she will tell you how another guy planned a much better date. Nothing you do will ever be good enough and she will constantly belittle you.

15. Your gut tells you that something is amiss

Having her in your life will never make you feel happy and satisfied. You live with a constant nagging feeling that something is not right, something is missing in your relationship and this will turn you into an insecure boyfriend. If you feel it in your gut that you’re just a backup boyfriend to her, accept it and try to correct the course keeping in mind what’s best for you.

It hurts when the person, who means the world to you, doesn’t reciprocate your feelings. It hurts when she only considers you an option or a standby lover she can go back to if she doesn’t find someone ‘better’ than you. But, remember, no matter how much you love her or how much it hurts to be her backup plan, staying in such a relationship is never a healthy thing to do.

Relationship Advice

What You Should Know About Standby Partners And Relationships

Being in a backup relationship can be confusing and overwhelming at the same time. You’re always in a dilemma because you don’t know if the person you love loves you back. You never know if she is with you because she truly loves you or because she sees you as a standby lover or a backup plan. This survey conducted in the UK in the year 2014 throws some light on the dynamics of such relationships:

  • The survey shows that women have more backup partners than men.
  • Married women tend to have more backburner relationships than single women.
  • A backup partner for a woman is generally an old acquaintance or friend. Typically, one who has always had lingering feelings for her.
  • 12% of women in the survey said their feelings for the backup partner were strong.

Nothing hurts more than being treated like an option by the person you love the most. In the dating world, such a person is known as a standby lover stuck in a backburner relationship. It leaves you wondering what you’ve done to deserve this kind of treatment. Well, nothing. Don’t blame yourself when it’s your partner who is in the wrong. 

Related Reading: 12 Signs It’s Time To Stop Pursuing The Girl You Like And Back Off

Why Do Women Feel The Need For A Backup Boyfriend?

Women who are uncertain about their future are more likely to have a backup boyfriend. They don’t want to be left alone or made to feel unwanted and unloved, which is why they usually have a backup option in case things don’t work out with their current partner. The reasons behind this could be one of the following:

  • They do not want to be alone, even if it means being with someone they’re not really in love with.
  • Having a backup boyfriend is a way to ensure that their timeline to hit milestones such as marriage and kids is not thrown
  • They don’t want their plans or dreams to go off track if they don’t find their ‘ideal’ match.
  • The standby lover can cater to their emotional needs until they find ‘the one’.

Whatever be the reason, treating someone who truly loves you like a backup option or a standby lover is never the right thing to do. You’re taking them for granted and playing with their emotions. Imagine if someone you love did that to you. How would you feel? Treating someone who is emotionally invested in the relationship like they don’t matter is disturbing and wrong.

To Be or Not To Be?

Being in a backup relationship can, by no measure, be a gratifying experience. So, it is bound to pose the existential ‘to be or not be be’ dilemma at some point. Well, if you are just looking to have casual sex or just another fling, then being a backup plan may not hurt. In this scenario, you’re not emotionally invested in the bond yourself. 

However, if you want a serious, long-term commitment, you need to get out as soon as you can. Why not look for the love of your life, instead of wasting your time, energy and resources on a hollow relationship?

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