“Relationships on the back burner”, or when love is long overdue

“Relationships on the back burner”, or when love is long overdue

Have you ever interacted with someone who lets you see the possibility of a relationship, even though he or she is already in a relationship? Or perhaps you have seen your ex come back into your life when he or she is already committed to someone else? If so, you are definitely in what we call a “slow-burner relationship.”

The British mini-series “One Day”, adapted from the eponymous book by David Nicholls, has become one of the most popular programs on Netflix since its arrival on the streaming platform on February 8. It tells the story, over two decades, of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, two young British people who meet at university. Although they define themselves as friends, Emma and Dexter eventually realize that the ties that unite them are much more ambiguous than they seem.

Dating experts see this fictitious relationship as an example of what is commonly called a “back burner relationship”. This rather enigmatic concept was mentioned for the first time in a study, published in the very serious scientific journal “Computers in Human Behavior”. Its authors explain that fans of “dormant relationships” are not “exclusively committed” to their current partner. They keep her in check, waiting to see if they don’t find someone who better meets their expectations.

Impaired self-confidence

But how can we explain this phenomenon? Social networks have a lot to do with it. It is extremely easy these days to keep in touch with a person you have not seen for years, or even whom you have never met “for real”. Romantic relationships born on the Internet have become commonplace, so much so that we are no longer offended that a couple met on Instagram or on Tinder.

However, digital love does not always follow the same rules as “real life” love. Internet users in relationships voluntarily maintain vagueness with the people with whom they communicate on the Internet, whether regarding their sentimental status and/or their real intentions. “Relationships on the back burner” are part of this dynamic, keeping the other person waiting for a possible “happy ending”.

This wait is often difficult to live with for those who endure it. ““On the back burner” relationships can cause emotional distress in the people involved; partners who experience them may feel abandoned, lack self-confidence or have the impression of having been used“, explains psychologist Jade Thomas to Glamor UK. In addition, the prospect of maintaining a possible romantic relationship with the one who puts us “on standby” can prevent us from meeting a much more available partner.

To avoid finding yourself in this type of situation, it is important to speak openly with your partner about your expectations from the start of flirting. Favor relationships based on mutual respect and reciprocal commitment. No one likes to wait, except maybe the characters in Netflix romantic comedies.