Back in the fall of 2011 when I was a sophomore in college, I started to date this Russian gentleman. Not long afterward a Venezuelan gentleman arrived onto the scene who superficially appeared to be a much better romantic candidate for me. Because of this, I ended my relationship with the Russian to begin anew with the Venezuelan. Unfortunately, that Venezuelan did not turn out to be the good man I originally thought him to be.
Nevertheless, did I use this change in circumstances to justify going back to the Russian? I did not. I could have; the Russian knew nothing of the Venezuelan and spent months hankering after me for his own reasons, but I refused him. I accepted that even though the man I had thought to be a better option didn’t exist, it would have been a disservice to both the Russian and myself to try to start again. We were both second options for each other, so I chose to move on alone.
Because I understood this concept of not settling for one’s second option when I was a dumb, romantically inexperienced 19-year-old, I have grown positively exasperated when I see older people today in their 20s and 30s falling back on their second and even third options in dating. Those who use their second options are basically using them as placeholders until another first option comes into the picture.
Perhaps I’m a cynic, but I doubt that there are many cases where people truly self-reflect and come to appreciate their second option and promote them in their minds to their first option. More often than not, second options are just used to escape being alone, to fuel the ego, to show others that they are in high demand.
People who are prepared to take their second options in dating are applying too much “market mentality” where they treat people as if they were jobs. It is perfectly understandable and acceptable to take a job offer that wasn’t one’s first choice. One needs a job to sustain oneself. One does not need a romantic partner with the same urgency, however.
The willingness to accept second options is rooted in perceptions towards relationships. If a person is trying to find a life-long partner, then they will be less inclined to spend a great deal of time on someone that they know is ill-suited for them. If a person views relationships less rigidly, they will be more inclined to live in the moment.
In itself there is nothing wrong with having a more relaxed attitude towards relationships, but if that blasé approach starts to negatively impact the emotional consideration we should give others, then it becomes a problem. Using someone as a status symbol among one’s peers would fall into that category of inconsiderate behavior.
No one should be expected to stick around for someone that they know they are merely a second option for. Several men over the years expected me to do just that and then had the audacity to be offended that I didn’t happily accept such a bad bargain. I don’t understand why some people are so paranoid about burning bridges in dating. Being alone with a smoldering bridge is far better than being in a relationship that one only half-heartedly cares for. At the very least if people are going to date like that, then they should maturely accept that some second options are going walk away and that they are perfectly within their rights to do so.