Marriage pacts are pretty unfair to everyone involved.
It's been revealed in the last couple of decades that it is theoretically possible for men and women to be platonic friends. There is a chance, says society, that a grown guy and lady can enjoy each other's company without having sex with each other. The ultimate mind-fark of the platonic cross-gender friendship is the backup plan.
The backup plan is a program by which a pair of friends agree they will marry if they are not otherwise engaged, married or seriously heading in that direction by a certain age. Our buddies at Nerve tackle this phenomenon. Their advice columnist, Miss Information, fields a question from a dude who feels a bit used by the phrase "Oh, I would love to marry someone just like you. When we're older, if you're not and I'm not, let's do it." Sure, no one takes these pacts very seriously but it is a f**ked up request. Why?
Essentially, the back up plan is a win-win for whoever suggests and receives it. They're saying, more or less, "Listen, I like you as a friend, but not much more, and I have a feeling that you wouldn't be terribly put-out if we accidently boned. I would prefer that we don't, but if you keep treating me with a maximum of loyalty and I get old and I'm still single we should probably get married. Will you wait for me? Thanks. (God forbid it comes to that)." While it's obvious to outsiders that the back-up plan puts the Beta partner in a terrible position, said partner is probably so enamored with thier Alpha that they interpret this as, "so you're saying there's a chance."
The LA Times once referred to John Mayer as Jennifer Aniston's backup and that one makes sense. Is he really going to ever do better than Jennifer Aniston? Probably not, so they both win in that situation. But the rest of us potential Betas could generally do better than our theoretically bethrothed. I understand the appeal of having a back-up plan, but it's generally just a terrible burden of hope for the weaker, more impressionable partner.
Has anyone you know ever been part of a successful back-up plan? Do tell.
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