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Don’t Be Someone’s Spare Tire

Being someone’s spare tire is exactly what it sounds like. Why do you have a spare tire in the back of your car? You don’t always need it, but it’s always there. 

The problem with being a spare tire in dating: it’s hard to know when you are one. After pointing out to someone that he was in fact a spare tire, a light bulb went off in his head. After hearing the term out loud, he recounted how his classmate tended to push and pull him, depending on her emotional needs at the time. But he let her treat him that way because he thought if he could be that guy for her, eventually she would want to be with him. 

Spare tires don’t have to be limited to dating, they can occur in friendships as well. Being someone’s spare tire simply means you aren’t their first choice. When it comes to friendships, you’re the backup friend if everyone else is busy. 

However, in relationships, the spare stays around for the hope of getting to be with the person they have feelings for. However, that person only keeps the spare tire around if it doesn’t work out with their current partner or in case they decide they might want to date the spare tire sometime in the future. 

If the qualities below describe the person you are seeing or are friends with, you might be their spare tire. 

1. They don’t want commitment 

People who want you as their spare tire don’t want to commit to a relationship. They possibly could already be in a relationship. This is the first red flag. If they let you believe that a romantic relationship is possible in the future, but won’t make any promises, then you’re their backup option. 

However, please don’t confuse this with the “friendzone.” If a person is clear with you that they value your friendship, but just don’t see a romantic relationship in the future, that’s not spare tire syndrome. A spare tire wants you to believe it’s a real possibility, whether it actually is or not. 

In a friendship, they are difficult to make plans with because you aren’t their first choice. They seek you out when they don’t have other options. Maybe none of their other friends can hangout that day or they only call when they need something from you. Look out for someone who only communicates with you for select reasons. 

2. You are always there when they need you

Whether you are romantically involved with this person or just friends, you are expected to come running. Spare tires tend to be empathetic and sensitive people. They care about the people in their lives and won’t hesitate to help a friend in need.

If this describes you, take a minute to reflect on all the instances you dropped everything for someone in your life. Think about who calls you when they need help and how often you do this. It’s not a bad thing to want to be there for the people in your life, just remember that you shouldn’t let people abuse your kindness. 

3. They don’t reciprocate

The problem: those who keep spare tires won’t do the same for you. Either they dismiss your feelings or they find an excuse why they can’t be there for you. Now that you have time to reflect on your behavior, think about the behavior of others. If you’re certain the people in your life would be there for you in the same situations, then your relationship is equal. 

But what if you just realized that it isn’t an equal relationship or friendship? This goes back to this person’s past behavior and think of the excuses they make not to be there for you or how they treat you when you’re feeling vulnerable. The place to start is understanding what you truly want from that person. 

4. They find excuses for their behavior

Calling them out on their behavior can be problematic though. Try to calmly explain how their behavior affects you and you’ll be mixed with a harsh reaction. Think back to a time you felt vulnerable and tried to express it. How did this person make you feel? If they didn’t treat you well, that’s a huge red flag. This person doesn’t want you to question them ever.

5. They string you along

Just when you’re ready to give up on them, they know how to make you feel special. That’s why you stuck around in the first place, right? People who have spare tires tend to be persuasive and have an ability to make you feel important, when it’s convenient for them. 

The best example of this was in Pretty Little Liars, both the book and TV Show. Allison DiLaurentis had a knack for making her friends feel special and included, but she also put them down a lot. She knew everything about them, but they realized eventually they didn’t know any of her secrets.

This could be happening to you if you feel like you tell someone everything, but they leave you out. But don’t jump to immediate conclusions if someone is closed off because they don’t like to express themselves/have been burnt in the past. If you ask someone about this, it’s usually easy to tell based on if they get angry/defensive or if they tell you that opening up is something they struggle with. 

6. It usually ends with a broken heart or a broken friendship

When a person finally realizes that they are being used, the friendship or relationship probably cannot last. Why would you want to be someone’s backup option when you’ve always treated them like they are your first choice? When the realization sets in, it’s important to surround yourself with people who care about you.  It won’t be easy to get over any trust issues but remember to focus on having people in your life that treat you well.

7. Unless, they rope you back in 

Sometimes though, you can be roped back in with a kind apology and a promise to change.It’s up to you whether you decide to give this person another chance. But if you do, proceed with caution. 

If you don’t, nobody blames you for setting boundaries. In fact, both of us can sometimes struggle with boundaries as well. The first step is to realize that you have let people take advantage of you in the past. Getting away from these toxic people is the first step in healing and moving on from the experience.

25 thoughts on “Don’t Be Someone’s Spare Tire

  1. This was such a great post! A lot of people are sadly in this position and may not be aware that they’re in it. This post can bring awareness to a lot of people and help them leave that relationship or friendship and also help them not make the same mistakes over and over. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my god, thank you for writing about this. I was a spare tire friend a few times but once I woke up to it, I never allowed such type of relationship in my life. I now have a special radar and let it go as soon as I sense it. Thanks for sharing, really liked this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great post! I have had my share of spare tyre friendships and unless you open your eyes or someone makes you notice it, it’s difficult to get off of it! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post and so true. I’ve experienced this many times in the past, but don’t take any rubbish from other people now!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, I do need that reminder as I am myself mostly caught in things like this- and while I might be aware.. I still don’t quite wanna let go 😬

    I need to work on being more mindful for myself, and actually stepping up to create boundaries and actually follow them!
    Great post xx

    Liked by 1 person

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