As a single woman in my early 20s, fresh(ish) out of a long-term relationship, I spend a lot of time analysing all of my friends’ dating lives in a desperate attempt to avoid thinking about my own. And you know what? There’s a phenomenon that we need to talk about: the foster girlfriend.

According to Urban Dictionary, a ‘foster girlfriend’ can be defined as “a girl who dates a guy until they find their “forever home”.

Disclaimer: Being a “foster” partner is not exclusive to women in heterosexual relationships. You can be a foster boyfriend or foster partner in any relationship dynamic, but because this story is largely about my friend Sally, who is a heterosexual female, we’re using those terms in this story.

So my friend (we’ll call her Sally) is a chronic foster girlfriend. I don’t mean to be dramatic but at this point, I am wholeheartedly convinced that there is something in Sally’s vagina that is the key to finding the love of your life.

Unfortunately for Sally, she’s never ‘the one’, but hoo boy has she helped some men find ‘the one’.

Sometimes it’s subtle, like an ex-boyfriend who goes on to meet the love of his life, put a ring on it and pop out a few kids a year later. But sometimes it’s really, *really* not, like the time a fling invited Sally to go to Bali with him, but when she couldn’t go on the holiday he ended up proposing to another woman on said Bali trip. You truly can’t write this shit.

At one point, Sally even dated a man who – by dating her – realised that he wanted to get back with his ex, who he’s now engaged to.

It’s grim, but honestly, she should start charging people for her services because it would be a lucrative business.

And the weird thing? There’s nothing wrong with Sally. She’s not a walking red flag or anything crazy. She’s great. A total catch.

So after watching countless men sleep with – or date – Sally on their quest to find true love, I couldn’t help but wonder… why?

foster girlfriend
me not being able to help but wonder

What makes somebody a foster girlfriend, and what is it about foster girlfriends that make these men so ready to commit to the next woman they meet? There are a lot of questions that rattle around in my head endlessly, but I thought the most useful one to answer in today’s edition of The Wish.com Version Of Carrie Bradshaw would be “How to tell if you’re a foster girlfriend.”

Sally, if you’re reading this, you’re already a foster girlfriend.

You’re A Fixer:

Do you find yourself attracted to men with some sort of immediate red flag that isn’t *quite* a deal-breaker because you quietly think you can be the one to save them and thus live happily ever after?

As my dad once told me, “you’re a girlfriend, not a therapist”, so we simply have no time for fixing anyone else’s problems at all. But if you find yourself in this predicament more than once, it’s probably a sign that you’re a serial foster girlfriend.

These problems can be anything from not being able to hold down a steady job, to full-blown alcoholism. These are real problems and they require real assistance from a trained professional, not a kind soul like yourself who will likely end up emotionally traumatised from it.

foster girlfriend
you’re not bob the builder and he’s not a broken window, you can’t fix him.

There’s Always ~Some~ Sort Of Red Flag:

Although this sounds similar to the above point, it’s not. These are the super immediate red flags that are almost always a deal-breaker.

The most common red flag I see (by a *landslide*) is long distance, especially with musicians.

If you find yourself having months-long flings with men that don’t even live in your state, you should probably ask yourself if you’re a foster girlfriend.

Long-distance isn’t always a red flag, but if interstate men keep sliding into your DMs on the reg and you get roped into spending all of your money flying interstate for a dude who refuses to commit to you, you’re probably a foster girlfriend.

Blink twice if you need help.

foster girlfriend
stop running directly towards red flags. you are not a bull.

You’re Always “Seeing” Someone But Never Officially Dating:

Have you ever spent months “seeing” a guy but never really knowing exactly where you stand, only for him to get a Girlfriend with a capital ‘G’ weeks after you end things?

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this is a definite sign that you’re a foster girlfriend.

if this is his biggest fear, run.

Your Exes End Up Being Not Completely Terrible To Their New Boo:

I live by the philosophy that you should walk out of every relationship a better partner than you walked into it because, you know, learning. But if your ex was a total jerk who always forgot your birthday, didn’t know how to use a washing machine and was flakier than a croissant and now he’s Prince Charming to his new GF, you’re probably the foster girlfriend.

No, this isn’t an excuse to hate her or be petty. It simply means that you’re the girl who probably taught him how to *be* a boyfriend, even if you never labelled it.

Alright, I’m A Foster Girlfriend – Now What?

So how the fuck do you stop being a foster girlfriend and find ~the one~ like all of your exes mysteriously seem to do 0.2 seconds after you break up?

It’s worth noting that being a foster girlfriend is usually a sign that you’re a kind, loving person and it’s not your fault that men (in this situation, but the concept isn’t exclusive to heterosexual relationships) take advantage of it.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as just deciding not to foster any more boyfriends. If I had a magical solution, I would write a book about it and make a bajillion dollars. But alas, I do not.

But if I can offer a word of advice for any Sallys who may be reading this, it’s to be the main character in your own damn story. If your life were a sitcom, you wouldn’t be Guy #3 who only shows up for one episode, no.

Whether you’re looking for a husband, or just a casual fling, put yourself first, make your intentions clear and don’t let anyone, especially not some douchebag named Jake (probably) waste your damn time.