Do you have a back burner relationship?

Do you keep your options open when it comes to love? Do you have a few people waiting on the back burner? Often it’s fair to say many of us don’t commit to one person, but leave the door slightly open with the hint of possibility of reconciliation down the line with other people. But what about if you’re already in a relationship? Do people in exclusive relationships keep other people on the back burner? Lovestruck investigates…


A recent study undertaken by scientists Dibble and Drouin set out to explore this very phenomenon and wanted to see how we use social media to maintain these connections. They defined back burners as: “People we are romantically and/or sexual interested in, who we are not currently involved with, and with whom we keep in contact in the possibility that we might someday connect romantically and/or sexually. People can have back burners even if they are already in a romantic relationship with someone else. Also, a former romantic and/or sexual partner can still count as a back burner so long as we still desire a romantic and/or sexual connection with them.”

The study asked 374 men and women, with an average age of 21 about their use of Facebook, twitter and mobiles. They were asked about their current relationships and whom they might have in their network that they would describe as a back burner.

The study found that first and foremost, people used Facebook and text messages to maintain contact with their back burners. 45 per cent of participants reported texting backburners, 37 per cent said they communicated with them via Facebook. A minority – just 13 per cent – called their back burner while even less used email, Twitter and Skype.

The group, on average, said they had five and half back burners, more of whom they communicated with in a platonic way than a romantic one. Men reported they had twice as many back burners as women, with 8.4, in comparison with 3.8.

Surprisingly, people in relationships reported they having just as many back burners as single people and having platonic contact with 2.7 people and flirty conversations with 1.8 people. These numbers stayed the same regardless of how committed these men and women felt towards their main relationships.

“We were really puzzled by why we didn’t find a relationship between commitment and backburners,” Dibble said. “If the investment model holds, we should have seen a nice strong relationship. Maybe the investment model doesn’t work in the online world.”

Interesting! Do you have back burners? Do you have them even when you are in a relationship? C’mon spill the beans @lovestruck we won’t breathe a word.

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