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Back-up plans

August 4, 2008

In a future life, I’d like to be a relationship counselor. Preferably someone like Dr. Laura, so that I can listen to people complain and then tell them how idiotic they are and how deserving they are of their current dilemmas.

In the meantime, I enjoy giving unwelcome advice. If a person complains to me, I’m not going to coddle them. I’m going to tell them how to fix their problem and then point out how idiotic they are to resist fixing it. Today I did just that, and probably hurt some feelings in the process. I don’t regret it.

The unwelcome advice had to do with this friend’s back-up. I’ll call him “B” for back-up. In her college years, “B” was enamored and promptly shot down. Yet my friend has kept the back door open through the years. They remain “good friends.”

Every once in a while, in particular when it’s been some time since other prospects have shown any interest, “B” will creep into conversation. Invariably, the back-up is showing interest. Lots of emails. A request to get together and catch up. “What should I do?! I don’t know how to be more clear that I’m not interested!” I’ll be asked in exasperation and desperation. (Of course, any advice I give will be unwelcome. This is just the typical female practice of complaining without wanting a solution.)

I’ve heard this lament quite a few times. I think I’m beginning to catch on. “It sounds simple to me. Don’t email back. Don’t accept an offer to get together. If you’re not interested, don’t show interest. Anyone will catch on eventually.” Not surprisingly, the response is, “well, back-up is good to have around.”

I’d guess this is a fairly common practice for women and men. It would be appealing to know someone will always be interested in you, even if you would never be able to reciprocate. That’s why so many people have dogs.

Overall, back-ups seem like a potentially handy tool.  I wonder how I could acquire one?

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