‘Men date me then find their wife’
The other night I was lying in bed struggling to head to the land of nod. Having given up counting sheep, for some reason this ol' brain of mine decided it might be jolly fun to take a trip down memory lane and dissect some of my old boyfriends instead.
As I stalked them all shamelessly on Instagram in my dark bedroom, I began to see a recurring pattern. They were all now married with children. Yep, the boy who broke my heart after high school. The farmer with the restless energy, heck even the guy I dated last year for a red hot minute. Married. With a child on the way.
Just after midnight it hit me. I was their foster girlfriend.
For those of you who aren't aware of this new term, according to Urban Dictionary, a 'foster girlfriend' is a girl who dates men until they find their forever girlfriend. A girl who intentionally doesn't want to be with a guy long-term.
As I frantically scrolled through social media profiles, it really became apparent. I had filled in time for these blokes, listened to many of their, 'I'm just not quite ready for a girlfriend' speeches (and said a fair few of those speeches myself) and to be fair, had a marvellous time with them before they turned on their vacant taxi light and picked up the next traveller for a life of commitment and dirty nappies.
I claim that I've been single for seven years, but in actual fact I've just hopped from one mini-kinda-sorta relationship to the next. Wanting to know why, I decided to delve deep into the case of my apparent 'foster girlfriend' status and really examine the evidence.
To start with, I looked at my lifestyle. It could be argued that I am terrible at texting. I don't have much time for dating if I'm snowed under with work, I can't stand it when a guy stays over and then wants to spend the rest of the day with me. "Thank you, yes we had a lovely time, now off you choof," and I enjoy the cute cuddly part of the relationship minus the responsibilities.
I recently interviewed a relationship expert for my podcast and she described the traits of someone who was actively dating to settle down, and that of someone who was dating for fun.
What stuck out to me was that I seemed to be more in the second category. I'm yet to hear the tick tock of my maternal instincts to have a child and I've got a rather long list of things I want to accomplish before I buy that home with the white picket fence.
I was telling a friend this, and they very bluntly informed me that yes, I really am not quite ready to commit. Um … excuse me, what?
Am I giving off 'foster girlfriend' vibes because they think I'm not ready to settle down?
The evidence was weighing up to a conclusive yes.
It turns out that when it comes to finding 'the one' the age-old saying is true … timing really is everything. In fact, recent research by Purdue University has proven that the success of a relationship all comes down to one thing, both people being truly ready to commit, at the same time. Sure, you could both be perfect for each other but if you're not both in the same frame of mind at the same time, it won't truly work.
They established that the extent to which someone is truly ready to be in a relationship would relate to interest and pursuit in becoming romantically involved. Which basically means, that those who truly want to be in a relationship will start engaging in the pursuit of one - whether that is paying more attention to your appearance, updating your wardrobe, spending money on dates, or actively seeking out a partner. I had a quick flashback to a date I went on recently dressed in jeans and a jumper. Oh dear.
The study also found that people who are truly ready were more likely to invest themselves in a newly formed relationship, whereas people who weren't quite ready to settle down tend to remain emotionally distant.
Interestingly, the study found that people may also not feel ready for a proper relationship if they're trying to establish themselves in a new job, location or position in life (such as being newly single).
So sure, I may have been a foster girlfriend to a quite a few blokes, but instead of going, 'Why weren't they ready to settle down with me?' maybe the question is, was I really ready to settle down with them?
J ana Hocking is a radio producer and collector of kind-of-boyfriends. Continue the conversation @Janahocking
Originally published as 'Men date me then find their wife'