It's time to recognise the "I'll be happy when..." syndrome!...
The Rise of the Plan B Pact...Actress turned swimwear designer Liz Hurley ONCE confessed she and Hugh Grant might end up like Darby and Joan living as comfortable companions rather than in a full-on coupling. Though now she's firmly with Shane Warne. And while characters in the US sitcom Friends similarly joked they’d do the same if romance failed them, no one expected such pairings in reality.
Increasingly though I hear from couples who agree exactly that: a ‘Plan B’ pact where as long-term friends if neither finds love they’ll forge a complete relationship. Sometimes it's the woman's suggestion particularly if her biological clock’s going off. Other times it's the men’s idea, often harbouring deeper feelings for their female friend.
Take Tom and Linda, both 36. [all personal details changed] Friends since Uni days they witnessed the ups and downs of each other's lives. Enjoying a drunken one-night stand as first years they built a firm, platonic friendship.
Friends often said they'd make the “perfect couple” and they’d tease each other they’d end up together. Then one fateful night on Linda’s 34th birthday she confided her fears: time was slipping away and she desperately wanted children.
Initially Tom laughed off suggestions they should be each other's Plan B. But after being dumped by a woman he’d dated a few months, Tom agreed and their pact was sealed. They slipped nervously into a full sexual relationship and announced their engagement.
Friends were pleased their teasing years back had truth in it. However Tom and Linda couldn't get their families on board causing difficulties. Both sets of parents were traditional fearing "the arrangement" as they dubbed it was no basis for marriage.
Overall things have worked out for them but not for Jane and Alex both 35. Ten years before they'd met as young city lawyers enjoying a fantastic friendship. A drunken snog one Christmas party was occasionally discussed in late-night chats - could there be something between them?
Such thoughts were brushed aside until their early 30s when Alex confessed he’d like to deepen things with Jane. He felt the time was right to settle down and there was no better potential partner than Jane - after all they were great friends. Jane suggested giving it a year and if still single they could move in together - their Plan B was set.
Towards the end of that period Jane started seeing a man she completely fell for. Alex was left furious because he passed on various offers to date women thinking their Plan B was the perfect solution. They no longer speak and their Plan B led to nothing short of a disaster with Alex feeling crushed.
Certainly Plan Bs have worked many usually on the basis they're completely honest about why they’re making such a pact. The successful ones also maintain communication through any given time frame. Often at least one secretly fancied their friend - a good starting point for the relationship crossing into sexual territory. Also they're the ones where friends and family are supportive and felt long-term love forged off the back of friendship was a gift. With so many singles leaving settling down much later I’m certain there’ll be plenty more Plan B pacts.
An edited version of this appeared in times2
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I firmly believe that emotional eating to soothe difficult feelings is the culprit behind most of this failure. My book has a huge range of practical tips/strategies to help understand your emotions and manage your appetite. There are mini-quizes and real case studies.
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