When things that scare the shit out of me come to mind, feeling like a consolation prize is pretty close to the top of the list.
You don’t have to just take my word for it; ask the ones who are always available but not chosen, ask anyone who got put on the back burner for someone “better” and they’ll tell you:
Being someone’s second choice can hurt like hell.
And much like a stubbed toe or the agony of your wisdom teeth coming in, there’s no way around the pain. We just gotta ride it out until it doesn’t hurt anymore. (It’s like we’re fine with life being filled with choices–until we become one of them.)
We saw this pain play out in many forms on [the shitshow that is] season two of Love is Blind on Netflix, the dating experiment where people choose their fiancé(e) “sight unseen”. The reunion this past weekend perfectly captured the drama and emotion that comes with thinking someone might have settled for you.
But lemme back up real quick…
I wanna briefly focus on one couple: Iyanna and Jarrette.
We gave these two a lot of shit on social media about the decisions they made on the show and how they went about them. While I agree with some of the criticism, I had to step back, check myself and my judgment.
Once I did that, I arrived at this truth:
The gag is, many of us may be somebody’s second, third, or fifth choice whether we know it or not–that’s life.
It’s one of the many things we gotta charge to the game (a game that, unlike Iyanna and Jarrette, we’re not playing in front of millions of viewers.) In a perfect world, we’re all someone’s ‘first and only’ but that’s just not realistic.
Though feeling like second place can open the floodgates to doubt and insecurity, we have to remember three things:
- Second choice doesn’t always mean “back burner” (more on this later)
- Our value isn’t determined by someone else’s choices
- A person’s past feelings and relationships don’t invalidate their present ones; it’s simply a different experience
Many times, it isn’t about knowing whether you’re someone’s second choice in a relationship, but more so being honest about how you feel: Are you happy? Do you feel respected, valued, and accepted for who you are? Do you see yourself doing this long-term?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, and they don’t care to make it a yes, then you may be a back burner (a.k.a. an afterthought). There’s a huge difference between being a literal second choice and being a back burner. If you’re a back burner then Imma be the one to tell you: it’s quiet for that relationship. It’s best for you to shut it down and move on.
If you still wanna figure out if you’re somebody’s back burner or second choice, imma give y’all some additional questions to ask:
- Does your partner seem stuck on someone else?
- If they’re not your partner, are they in another relationship?
- When you’re being affectionate or romantic, do you feel like the effort is reciprocated?
- Is someone else their “go-to” person for important news or decisions?
- Do they blame the status of your relationship on “bad timing”?
I will say this though: if you find yourself needing to figure this out then you definitely should do some reflecting. Is this being triggered by the other person or is it mostly in your head?
Listen, fuck all the extra noise. Seriously. People can go on about top picks and “what ifs” all day like a damn NBA draft but are you a priority NOW? That’s the most important thing.
Not to mention, being that mystical “what if” person is overrated. And fleeting. Somebody can imagine the possibilities of being with you all day…until they don’t. You’ll go from a fantasy to an afterthought very quickly if someone feels like they’re wasting their time.
When you’re someone’s priority, they make you feel it. There’s no shortage of effort to make you feel loved, wanted, respected, supported, adored, and cared for; if you communicate that there’s a problem then they’ll work overtime to help solve it.
Simply put, it’s giving security. Not anxiety, worry, or uncertainty, but SECURITY. (Anything less than that they are not the right person for you, and I’ll take that to the bank!)
I’ll leave you with this: everyone has a past and some people don’t get it right the first time (or second or tenth); not being the first doesn’t make your love any less real, if it’s truly love at all.
If you’re feeling like a second choice in a relationship then dig deeper to figure out who’s making you feel this way: them or you?
Whoever it is, you don’t need that. Hell, you shouldn’t want that. Don’t let someone’s choices make you waste your time or mess with your confidence.
Do you agree that being the second choice is ok sometimes? Share why or why not in the comments, or the 20 Something Saga Twitter or Instagram!
Great read! I love the perspective you shared.