It has been days. Maybe weeks. Or maybe even months! Old faithful begins to resurface! And it’s normally some bullshit text that says “Hey, big head.” or “Hey. Wyd”? And what do we do? We answer. Or at least, I’ve been guilty of answering in the past. Every. Single. Time. Le’Sigh.. I hate to break the news to you but I think it’s safe to say that you’ve been put on the back-burner and are now in a back-burner relationship. Or, as I’ve had a friend call it in the past.. “Shelf Pussy/Dick”. Useful for the moment but 100% disposable. I know. It’s a bit harsh. But sometimes we need to hear it.
I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck a back-burner relationship is!
Ok. So Boom..
It’s when you keep in touch with someone because you think you might want to have a romantic relationship with them someday. Or, you know, just have sex! These relationships are more common than you think! It’s not just you, boo.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis studied a group of people and found that those who said they were single averaged about six back-burner contacts, while those who said they were in committed relationships had almost five. Did you all read that last part? Even the folks that stated they were in committed relationships averaged FIVE back-burner contacts!
In all, 70% of the participants said they were keeping at least one potential partner in the wings.
On the one hand, such interactions may be harmless if each of the adults involved is honest about their intentions and satisfied with the relationship. Unfortunately, that is rarely how things work out.
The same study also found that only 16% of those in serious relationships told their partner about all their back-burner prospects.
Similarly, many of the men and women who are being kept on hold are uncertain about their relationship status because they usually receive mixed signals.
Is there a more kind and constructive way to pursue your relationships? Absolutely. Take a look at the possible pitfalls of back burner relationships and how to deal with them.
If You’re Keeping Someone Else on the Back Burner:
- Live in the present. While you’re trying to anticipate what will happen in the months ahead, you may be neglecting your potential/current partner. It’s difficult to form a meaningful connection while you’re considering other options and out there playing with those options.
- Face your fears. You can be happy and fulfilled without a relationship. However, if you avoid commitment because of past disappointments or unrealistic expectations, you may be denying yourself the opportunity to find love. We generally keep people on the back-burner because they are easy and we don’t have to deal with the stressors of forming new relationships. I’m here to tell you that doing the work to heal is important and requires you to leave all things holding you back, behind.
- Let go of secrets. Hiding the truth can and will be a burden. While you’re hiding text messages, phone calls, and meet-ups, you’re likely to experience a lot of stress and anxiety about getting caught. So either be upfront with yourself or your potential/current partner. Let them make the decision of whether or not they want to stay while you’re figuring things out. I would do a disservice if I didn’t mention that sometimes you lose on both sides when trying to hold on to the past.
- Earn respect. Some psychologists believe that the reason we want back burner relationships is because they make us feel desirable. What other things can you do to earn respect? Yep. I just gave you homework.
- Be consistent. Ask yourself if you’re stringing someone along, telling them that you care, when your actions say otherwise, or flirting with them while you claim that you want to be just friends. There may be a greater peace of mind when your actions match your words.
If You’re Being Kept on the Back Burner:
- Appreciate your worth. Allowing yourself to be treated like you’re second rate can screw your self-esteem. You deserve to be loved just the way you are. Remember that you ARE the pink Starburst in the bag!
- Make your own plans. Maybe you’re infatuated with someone who tends to call you at the last minute or cancels dates that you’ve been looking forward to. Instead of waiting around for them, start making your own plans and filling your life with other fun and rewarding activities.
- Be direct. The people in your life should know how you expect to be treated. You may need to ask someone not to discuss their other dates with you if it makes you feel uncomfortable. However, this goes both ways. If they aren’t able to discuss their other dates be respectful and try to refrain from doing it as well.
- Move on. What do you do if you’ve asked for what you want, and a relationship still isn’t in the cards? It may be time to meet someone new who values you more. I promise that they are out there. Ask me how I know!
It can be tempting to keep alternative partners lined up if you’re afraid of being single or wondering what you would do if you and your current partner part ways. However, you’re likely to find more love and happiness if you treat yourself like a top priority and work at nurturing the relationship you have now.