Do you have a special someone who, mainly through social media, implies you might have a romantic relationship someday in the future? Congratulations, youre in a back burner relationship.
The term back burner relationship comes from the phrase put something on the back burner, meaning to put something aside for the time being until youre ready to give it your full attention. The term is used in a recently published study authored by US psychologists Jason Dibble and Michelle Drouin. A back burner, in their definition, is a person with whom one is not presently committed and with whom one maintains some degree of communication, in order to keep or establish the possibility of future romantic and/or sexual involvement.
Back burner relationships are nothing new. Keeping in touch with alternative romantic prospects is common. From a biological and evolutionary point of view, exploring all potential mates available can help one to be sure to get the best deal. But there are some interesting findings in Dibble and Drouins study. One is that social media makes it much easier to maintain back burner relationships.
Modern technologies help
According to The Huffington Post, the two researchers recruited 374 young men and women with the average age of 21. Some of these people were currently in an exclusive romantic relationship, and some were not.
The researchers asked them to report how many back burners they had, whether they talked to them platonically or were more flirty, and what technology they used to keep in touch with these people. Those who were currently in relationships also completed assessments of their investment in and commitment to their relationships, and rated how appealing they thought their back burners were.
The most frequent ways that people kept up with their backburners were through texts and Facebook. Forty-five percent of participants reported texting backburners, 37 percent reported talking to them on Facebook. Thirteen percent of people talked on the phone to the person they were stringing along, and the rest used e-mail, Skype, or Twitter.
What surprised the researchers was that there was no significant difference between the number of backburners kept by people in relationships, and the number kept by single people. The whole group reported having an average of 5.5 back burners, more of whom they communicated with in a platonic as opposed to a romantic way.
The study proves that modern technologies make it easy to communicate with back burners. Before, you would need to meet in person or write a letter to maintain the relationship, leaving a paper trail. But now, all you need to do is leave some nice words on your back burners social media page and its not exactly cheating on your partner.