Gina Vaynshteyn
October 29, 2014 11:58 am

A new term for a very familiar kind of relationship has been officially been coined and studied: The Backburner Relationship. When you have a backburner relationship with someone, you essentially keep them around “just in case.” Just in case your current relationship fails. Just in case the person you are romantically pursuing turns out to be a person who you don’t actually want to be involved with. A recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior defines a backburner relationship as “a person to 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.” Essentially, they are your backup plan.

It’s great to have a backup plan, but it’s a little harsh when it comes to relationships. And it’s especially sucky if you find yourself in the position of being someone else’s backup plan. In that case, you’ve got to spot the situation and address it with a solid heart-to-heart—if you’re unhappy with the state of affairs. It’s OK to want to be on the ‘frontburner,’ and to let someone you care about know how you feel. But first, check out if these backburner relationship signs sound familiar.

1. The person you’re involved with doesn’t want to commit. But doesn’t want to NOT commit.

Oh, you frustrating human. You want me around, but you don’t want me around TOO much. Ain’t that the pits! Generally, if you’re in a backburner relationship, this person WANTS you there — on their own terms, obviously. They want you in their lives, and they’ll maintain the relationship, but they also don’t want you to think that you’re their main flame now. So. Frustrating.

2. Even though this guy or girl is in a relationship, you feel like you two are practically in one too.

You might not kiss, or hold hands, or have sex. But you go to the movies together, and sit on park benches and talk about family, books, LIFE. You swear you feel a spiritual connection with this person, and you just know they feel it, too. So what gives?! Backburner, bb.

3. He or she flirts with you, but never makes a concrete move

They are always telling you how pretty or smart you are. Sometimes they allow their eyes to linger on your face or outfit for a few seconds too long. You wonder why they even bother showering you with this attention if they’re not going to ask you out, but the truth is that they want you to feel special and wanted. But not TOO special and not TOO wanted.

4. They hint to the possibility of dating

“You know, you would be so good for me,” is something they might say, alluding to the fact that they’ve thought about you two as a couple. And that if they were smart they would be with you. *Snort*

5. You do things together that feel romantic

Dinners at “your” Italian restaurant downtown, watching Mad Men on Netflix after work, and even sharing personal details about each others’ lives are very common activities between you and your backburner boyfriend or girlfriend. It all amounts to the same thing though: absolutely nothing.

6. They frequently Facebook message you about their day, or problems, or when they’re bored

You feel like you’re their confidant, and that you know more about them than anyone else. This might even be true, but then why do you feel like their SO without the benefits?

7. They’ll comment on your pictures or fave your tweets, but balk when you want to hang out

Since social media is an easy, effortless way to keep in contact with someone, it makes sense that the person you’re having a backburner relationship with keeps you around online, and harmlessly checks up on you by commenting on your new haircut, or writing “LOL” on that funny thing you tweeted this morning.

8. When they find out you’re dating someone new, they seem to be annoyed or protective

Like, how dare you have your own life and disrupt this perfect backburner thing we have going on! It almost seems like they just want you single and available forever.

9. They’ll call you when they’re in a fight with whoever they’re dating

You’re the person they go to when they need someone to talk to, or even if their boyfriend or girlfriend is out of town. They want you to feel like an important part of their life, even if it’s just a teensy bit self-serving.

10. They say, “if we’re both single by the time we’re 40 — let’s get married!”

Please tell me you haven’t had this said to you. I know I’VE said this to someone even though I probably didn’t mean it. At the moment, it’s comforting though. You make a pact with a guy or girl you like, and you feel as though you’ve eliminated any chance of ending up alone. But we all know that’s not how it goes. And if you’re the one keeping someone on the backburner, maybe it’s time to turn off the stove.

(Images , Giphy)

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