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A matter of convenience

…the ‘Placeholder Relationship’ trap

By Daniel Francis

In another episode of New Age Relationships, we have a type of situation termed the ‘placeholder relationship’.

A ‘placeholder relationship’ is a type of romantic relationship where one or both partners engage in the relationship with no long-term commitment or genuine emotional investment. Sometimes only one partner is fully committed to the relationship while the other is deceiving the other.

These types of relationships are typically entered into for convenience’s sake. Two individuals may be attempting to alleviate their loneliness, succumb to social pressures or challenges of being single, or are looking for someone to fulfil their physical needs.

When two consenting adults consciously engage in a placeholder relationship, they are choosing to stick to a mutual understanding to accept the relationship for what it is, that is, temporary and that of convenience.

Ideally, they engage in clear communication to avoid hurt feelings which seems like a lot of work for a relationship that is understood will end shortly.

When, however, one partner is actively deceiving the other partner by communicating that they are in for the long haul, but they know it to be a lie, then we are talking about something completely different.

It seems to be common ground, especially in my generation of millennials, to engage in this deceitful behaviour. People engage in relationships with individuals who they know they do not have that full connection with.

The other person is enamoured and has made their intentions clear. Instead of being honest with their partner and ending the relationship, they lie to keep the convenience of the relationship going.

At its core, this is selfishness. These individuals want all the perks of a relationship but with none of the future commitment and they do this at the cost of the other person’s feelings.

This issue speaks to the moral depravity we have reached as a society where we can so easily deceive someone we have some semblance of feelings for. It is a wonder that many around my age have trust issues when it comes to relationships. But the question lies, “Why are some so comfortable with behaving in such a way?” I have a few hunches.

Some simply do not care. They lack empathy and do not care about the harm that they are going to potentially do to their partner. They care only for satisfying their needs. They may be so accustomed to this type of behaviour that they do not even give it a second thought.

Others may be selling themselves on the idea that their partner is better off having them for a bit longer in their life. They rationalise that this is better for their partner than being honest and ending the relationship.

They delusionally believe that they add so much to the other person’s life that it would be counterproductive to cut ties too soon. They do not realise that they are essentially wasting the other person’s time with their lies and robbing them of choice.

If they truly believed that the person would want them in their life longer then they should be honest and give them the choice.

Lastly, there is a group that I believe is damaged. Some part of their mental makeup is damaged and affecting their decision-making. Due to traumatic past events, the way they are conditioned to think, or their mindset somehow makes them dig their heels deeper and deeper into relationships that they have no intention of staying in long-term.

As the issue is mental, they tend not to communicate truthfully due to shame or fear of conflict. Whatever the reason, the lies ultimately still lead to eventual conflict.

I worry for those in my generation or anyone who allows themself to behave in this way. When our ties to God and faith are weak, we tend to engage in this type of behaviour with little consequence.

When you are in constant conversation with God, you will be reminded that this is not of God. When you read your Bible you will know you are encouraging a life of sin.

When you go to church and see the many families in the congregation, you will know that you are not working toward the same family ideals with your actions. If you are deceiving someone into an unintentional placeholder relationship, take this article as your signal to stop and to return to the righteous path.


Daniel Francis is a millennial helping other millennials. He is a two-time author of the books The Millennial Mind and The Millennial Experience, and an entrepreneur. Over the past four years, he has served as a Personal Development Coach whose work targets Millennials and helps them tap into their full potential. He is also a Self-publishing coach and has guided hundreds on self-publishing their book successfully. 


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