The Fallback is the person one goes to when one is feeling heartbroken, lonely, depressed, in need of a quick flirt (or a quick something else) or just plain needs attention. The Fallback is someone that is never number one on the list but serves a purpose in being there just in case. I have been the Fallback plenty of times. There was a guy I dated a few years ago who would call me when he broke up with his girlfriend and we would, ahem, date (wink wink, nudge nudge) for a week or so and then they would reconcile. There was another who would call and flirt and talk about getting together with me and then a few days later he'd be back in love with his girl. There were a few others I could mention but they all followed the same m.o. - they called me when their first choice didn't work out.
I am not an innocent victim in all of this. I happily agreed to be someone's Fallback and even had Fallbacks of my own for the very same reason. I thought I liked being the Fallback because it meant getting some attention without having to commit but really, I was the Fallback because I didn't think I was going to find anyone else and possibly believed I didn't deserve to be number one. My subconscious reasoning was this: better someone than no one, even for a moment. As time passed, being the Fallback was less and less appealing to me and when I dated Randy, AstroBoy and Freddy (separately) I took the big step of cutting off men who kept me as their Fallback, although there are some that just won't go away, like Beer Can in the Shower.
Beer Can and I have an odd relationship. I thought for a very long time that we were friends, but turns out I was his Fallback and didn't even realize it. This past Spring, Beer Can was texting me all the time and even invited me to dinner. I arrived at the restaurant first and when he walked in, he kissed me - not on the cheek but on my lips. I was shocked and a little bothered by it. He also bought me a gift - a pink baseball cap and tie-dye t-shirt from some biker rally he attended (did I mention I have zero interest in dating bikers?) It was then that I realized he was trying to woo me. I couldn't get out of that dinner quicker. I had no interest in dating him and had been very clear about this fact, but apparently he wasn't listening because he was still texting me every day, asking me to go to his house (I never did), asking me to go on bike rides (I wouldn't go). Suddenly, I stopped hearing from him and to be quite honest, I didn't really notice or even care. Meanwhile, I met A. and didn't think about Beer Can. Ever.
One day, he sent a text message. Now, in addition to being an alcoholic, Beer Can is a very boring texter and there is nothing... NOTHING worse than a boring texter. For example:
Beer Can: Hey
BC: Whats new (no punctuation)
Me: Not much
BC: Kooland so forth (by the way - I hate when guys spell cool with a "k." It's right up there with da instead of the and dat instead of that). In addition to the exciting conversation, he also informed me that he had just broken up with someone (hence the need to text me) and proceeded to tell me she was a "playa" (player) and things were cool but she didn't want him as a boyfriend. I mentioned I had met someone in hopes he would leave me alone but he went on to ask about my budding relationship. I told him a little bit about it, to which he replied "not to sound like a wet blanket, but that's how this chick and I started and look how that turned out." I replied "we're not dating the same person and I'm not worried." I realized in that moment that not only was I his Fallback but he was banking on things not working out with A... wishing for it, it seemed. He then proceeded to tell me that he is tired of being alone and wishes he could find a smart, responsible woman who is ready to settle down. I replied that I really didn't know what to tell him, but wished him luck on his journey. The conversation ended there.
Beer Can has sent a few more text messages but I don't have any need to reply. We are not friends. He does not wish me well and isn't concerned with the success of my relationship. He is the embodiment of misery loving company (or at least a drinking buddy). I don't need to explain this to him, nor do I owe him a goodbye or a chance to redeem himself. There is no need to salvage a relationship that doesn't mean much to me anyway.
A good friend of mine also found himself in the Fallback role recently. The person who is treating him as such sent a text that said "I miss you." My friend, mustering up all the strength he had, replied "that's nice." While it was hard (my friend really likes this person), he told me he doesn't need to be the Fallback plan and I'm so proud of him for coming to that realization - it's such a liberating feeling to let someone know that being second isn't good enough.
I'm not anyone's Fallback and won't be again - as for Beer Can, I'm sure he'll meet a nice woman, or not. I really don't care either way.
Next time: The B Word