Is It Really That Bad To Be The 'Second Choice' In A Relationship?

Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for "Vampire Diaries" and seasons 2 and 4 of "Love Is Blind."

Playing second fiddle, being the leftovers, being the one they settled for — however you describe it, nobody wants to be someone's second choice. After all, viewers see the love triangle conundrum unfold all the time, often in the form of full-blown cheating in TV shows like "The Vampire Diaries," "Scandal," "Outlander," and others. More recently, millions tuned in for some love triangle drama involving Zack Goytowski, Bliss Poureetezadi, and Irina Solomonova in the fourth season of Netflix's "Love Is Blind." And it's not the first time it's happened on this show.


Sometimes, relationships that involve a second choice work out in the fictional world, as it did for Elena and Damon in "Vampire Diaries." And it can work out in the real world too, which seems to be the case with Goytowski and his second-choice fiancee and now wife, Poureetezadi.

The success of these unions, fictional or not, begs the question: Is it really that bad to be the second choice in a relationship? The answer depends on who you ask. 

Reddit and dating experts say it's okay to be the second choice

A Reddit user, who goes by Jesusandchips, asked if it's okay to be someone's second choice. The post received mixed responses. One person answered, "Unless he treats you like second choice, you're not second choice. If you like him and he treats you right, go for it." A second person agreed but added, "Do I recommend it? Not particularly."


Dating experts Rikki Dymond and Shannon Smith gave their two cents on the question as well via a My Imperfect Life article. Dymond feels that being someone's next choice doesn't necessarily mean you're "a lesser option." On the contrary, she believes this "could be the better option" for the person who made the second choice. However, Smith stresses the importance of honesty and open communication if you're going to go through with this.

"Love Is Blind" serves as the perfect example of proof that a second-choice relationship can work. After all, in the most recent season, Goytowski fell for two women, one being Solomonova who he initially proposed to. But their engagement didn't last long. Once he realized Solomonova wasn't the one for him, he reconnected with Poureetezadi, whom he later wed. With the reunion show airing in mid-April, about a year after their wedding, the couple delighted viewers with the news that they're still happily married.


Why it might not be okay

While it's nice that things worked out for Poureetezadi and Goytowski, not every second-fiddle story on "Love is Blind" has a happy ending. In season 2, we saw a similar love triangle between Jarrette Jones, Mallory Zapata, and Iyanna McNeely. Jones did pop the question to McNeely but only after Zapata rejected the same proposal. Nevertheless, McNeely did eventually marry him. While they seemed to be happy during the reunion, the couple later divorced explaining their "lives are going in different directions," McNeely shared via Instagram. Now, would their lives have aligned better if she were his first choice? It's possible.


In another real-life but non-reality show relationship, a Reddit user advised against allowing yourself to be someone's second choice. In her post, she explains how she was kept "as a backup" to a man she was romantically interested in. After considering the red flags, she decided to cut off all communication with him and encouraged readers to value themselves.

In turn, the possibility of being someone's second choice can lead to feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, shares sociology professor Pepper Schwartz via USA Today. Therefore, Schwartz and marriage and family therapist Gabrielle Applebury listed some red flags in a relationship with a second-choice dynamic. One of them being if their partner makes it clear that they'd rather be with someone else or if someone openly compares their partner to their ex.