What’s Your Escape Plan?
Today starts with two thoughts that don’t seem to have anything in common- hang in there with me for a moment.
Thought one: I was a Girl Scout and the daughter of a Marine. I grew up in the mindset of always being prepared. My friends and I joke that I have a plan A, Plan B, etc. Basically, I have back up plans that will take me from A all the way to Z for decisions I have to make. Yay, me! Well organized and prepared for any twists and turns in life! Maybe…
Thought two: there is a popular dating show on tv in which a contestant dates and eliminates suitors until the finale in which a proposal usually occurs. Yep, you know the one. I’ve watched it for years while alternating between laughter, scratching my head in confusion, and yelling at the tv as if the contestants could hear me.
Here’s the connection of the thoughts. In the show there is always someone on there for the “wrong reasons”. This person would be equally happy being the final contestant or the star of the show in the next season. This person has a Plan A (be the finalist) and a Plan B (be the next star). This person may be seen as well prepared for any twists and turns which could cause the need to pivot from Plan A to Plan B. Could also be viewed as wavering/playing it safe by nurturing two desirable outcomes. These contradictory perspectives got me thinking.
If a person enters into a relationship with a Plan B, is it possible for that person to be truly committed to the relationship??
I once heard a businesswoman share the thought that true success only comes when you set a goal and go after it without a Plan B. She viewed having a Plan B as a hinderance, a block to achieving success because it gives you a safe place to go when Plan A feels uncomfortable, hard, painful, unattainable. Plan B is a parachute, a lifeline, an escape hatch from the tough growth moments of Plan A. Therefore…
The more Plan A becomes a struggle the more attractive Plan B looks.
So, let’s take a moment- a long, honest, soul-searching moment- of looking at our intimate relationships: attempts at dating, attempts at marriage, maybe even attempts to achieve and maintain sobriety/end addiction. Do we go after these attempts with all that we have to give? Or do we go after them with a safety net, knowing that when it gets tough we can execute Plan B to keep us from feeling the anxiety, vulnerability, and pain that comes with the vulnerability required by the intimate connections of Plan A?
Having a plan B is a double-edged sword. Plan B leaves us feeling safer knowing that we have another path to fall back on if Plan A isn’t moving in the way we want it to, the way that leaves us feeling content and happy and safe. After all, who doesn’t want to feel happy? This edge seems like a good thing.
Plan B can be an escape from feeling the emotions that really scare us in relationships. It’s a way to justify backing away from those nerve-racking, anxiety-provoking feelings instead of leaning into them. It’s this other edge of the sword that leads to being lonely and disconnected, even when we are in a committed relationship. Having a Plan B in intimate relationships can rob us of the learning and growth that comes from leaning into those unsettling feelings and experiencing them together as emotionally connected partners.
Is it wrong to have a Plan B in your intimate relationships? Depends. If you are experiencing any type of abuse, then having a Plan B to seek safety is right to do. If your Plan B is individual or couples therapy for assistance in working through these emotionally tough moments, that’s a good thing, too. If Plan B a plan which you justify to yourself to back away from feeling your feelings and learning how to work through the distress and anxiety they can bring, then it may be holding you back from learning, growing, and truly committing to Plan A. Being in a relationship starts with being honest with yourself and knowing your intentions, motivations and boundaries. The commitment flourishes with self-awareness, newfound strength, and emotional growth and connection with oneself and others. What’s your plan?
Embrace your best self! Anne