AKA “better than nothings”, tease us with finite fixes for infinite yearnings. They’re the dead-end relationships, the otherwise-perfect commitmentphobes, the people who’ll never be that Into us, the Friends who can’t be more. The Coras.

Yet if BTNs served no function, we wouldn’t spend years waylaid—if not actually laid—in them. Among the popular rationalizations are these:

—Some intimacy feels better than none at all, so we hide ourselves from the trade-off we’re making against our future happiness;

—We wonder if real love is a fairy tale, and whether we should settle for what’s in front of us despite the gnawing loneliness and insecurity;

—We think pain means love, so we forget —or never knew?— that returned love exists and feels fan-fricken-tastic;

—Or we falsely believe love is rare, so we’d better hold onto even a bad match (Note: someone who doesn’t want or isn’t ready for us is a bad match no matter how wonderful otherwise);

—And sometimes we think we’ve already spent so much time here, we can’t or shouldn’t leave now.