In my friend Susan Page’s bestselling book, If I’m So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single?: Ten Strategies That Will Change Your Love Life Forever she discusses the “Better Than Nothing” (BTN) partner. A BTN is someone you know isn’t “the one,” yet you hang onto him because you feel it’s better to have someone than no one.
I find myself in a BTN relationship. And I think he feels similarly. He lives a few hundred miles away, and although he calls every day, he’s only made one trip to see me in 6 months. I visited him once, and he aborted another trip I had planned a month later. But he still calls daily, so I know he has some interest in continuing the connection. It feels like we are in a BTN relationship.
Why stay in BTN relationships? You know you have someone who will accompany you to a wedding or party, if needed. You can probably count on him for New Year’s Eve. It gives you some security, like the spare tire in your trunk, even if you don’t use it much. Just like the spare tire, you know it is temporary.
If you are exclusive with your BTN, you deprive each other of finding someone who is a much better fit. If you aren’t exclusive, your BTN is the “spare” you have to fall back on if others don’t work out.
How do you know if you are the other’s BTN? By the lack of motivation he shows in seeing you or calling you — in other words courting you. If he’s lackadaisical about wooing you, you are, no doubt, a BTN.
Do you tell him that he isn’t “the one” but you’d still like to see him? In other words, that he’s a BTN? If it seems he’s more serious about you than you are him, then yes, let him know. It is only fair. I would avoid using the BTN wording, but let him know you don’t feel he is “the one.” Then he can choose to continue seeing you, or not, but at least you’re honest.
With the holidays coming up, I think people cling more tightly to their BTNs. The prospect of being alone at holiday parties or New Year’s Eve can be a downer.
What do you think of BTNs? Have you been in a BTN relationship? Why did you decide to continue or break up?
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