Does Having A Backup Option Hurt?

Relationships can be difficult and uncertain, especially now. Leaving a relationship and getting into a new one can seem like taking a leap of faith into the unknown, which is why some people have a “backup” option. A backup option is someone that is seen as a potential romantic interest. In some cases, this backup person can be an ex-partner.
Some studies have suggested that having a backup option doesn’t negatively impact a current relationship, however a new study wanted to know if that person is an ex-partner, does it change the story. Researchers explained that ex-partners can have higher sexual desire after breaking up and this desire could increase the desire to communicate and engage in sexual activity with their ex, thus harming the current relationship.
The researchers surveyed 397 adults in committed relationships They were asked about having a backup option, whey they communicated with this person, how often they engaged in sexual activity with them and how often they had negative feelings about communicating with them.
Researchers found that 62% of people had at least one backup person. Of those participants, about half of them had an ex-partner as their backup. Participants that communicated with an ex as a backup did so more frequently than those who had a backup that was a non-ex. The increase in communication was also tired with an increased in likelihood to engage in sexual activity with their backup, and higher chance for negative emotions.

Even only communicating with a backup person was associated with negative feelings, even without sexual activity. It was also higher among those who’s ex was their backup option, suggesting that having an ex as a backup option is more harmful.

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