5 Ways to deal with a back burner relationship
In This Article
Did you just learn you are an option and want to deal with a backburner relationship? This article explains a backburner relationship and subtle ways to deal with it.
Many of us grew up with the concept of love that emphasizes only one partner. We know there might be challenges and intruders, but you and your partner remain committed to each other.
It can be shocking to learn that your partner has a backup partner. In their excuse, this person is only an option should their “real” relationship not work out. That is the idea behind burner relationships.
Also, the psychology of back burner relationships is “what if?” You are not 100% committed to the relationship, but you feel safe, knowing it’s an option. Unfortunately, it hurts your other partner who thinks you are committed to them.
If you suspect your partner is like this, how to get out of a backburner relationship or how to deal with a backburner relationship might be the only thing on your mind. Thankfully, this relationship guide reveals much about backburner relationships and how to deal with them appropriately. But before we dive deeper, it might help to know the backburner relationship meaning.
What are backburner relationships?
Many have asked, “what are backburner relationships?” Backburner relationships describe partnerships where you maintain communication with someone from your past or an ex should your present relationship not work out.
According to psychologists, many of us can’t detach from an ex. Therefore, we maintain some closeness with them even when we have a perceived “committed” relationship with someone. This relationship was termed a “backburner relationship” by a 2014 relationship research and study.
There is nothing wrong with keeping in touch with an ex or maintaining a liaison with someone from your past when you are single. However, it’s all shades of wrong to have the likelihood of reconnection or have an option when you are in a supposed “committed” relationship.
The psychology of backburner relationships is that you aren’t placing your eggs in one basket. If you are in a relationship, communicating with your ex or a crush means you are keeping your options open. There are several reasons to make such decisions, but it won’t look good on your partner, who thinks they are your better half.l
If you believe your partner isn’t focused or committed to the relationship like you are, it’s normal to feel betrayed. The thought that they are even considering a way out stings more than anything.
Meanwhile, there is a difference between maintaining contact with an ex and constantly connecting with them. You may have a backburner relationship if you use your connection with an ex to avoid a deeper emotional connection with your current partner.
When you put someone on a back burner, you keep them as an extra. You aren’t exclusively committed to them but see them as a potential relationship to fall back on. In addition, a back burner is someone other than someone you occasionally think about. You reach out to them constantly, giving them a glimmer of hope that a relationship can ensue.
It can also happen whether you are in a relationship or not. Backburner relationships are more common than you think. According to a 2021 study, over 300 adults in long-term relationships have backburner relationships with their “committed” partners.
Learn about tips to get over your ex in this video:
Why do we maintain backburner relationships?
One question that comes to mind about a backburner relationship is the reason for having It. If you are put on the backburner, you may think there is something wrong with your spouse. Could it be fear of the unknown, trauma, or the effect of past relationship experiences? Learn about five common reasons people maintain backburner relationships:
1. An insurance
If you are put on the backburner relationship, the reason could be a way to have insurance. Not many people want to feel vulnerable when their main relationship fails. Having an option if their main relationship doesn’t work out gives them the confidence to go about their everyday activities.
Unfortunately, this notion also makes them misbehave and act anyhow in their relationship. After all, they know there is someone they can go to when everything fails with one partner. In other words, should their existing relationship be destroyed, they have access to others who can quickly fill the role.
With the way relationships fail these days, it’s understandable that many don’t want to feel empty if their current relationship doesn’t work out. We may have social media to thank for that anyway. There are few standards, pieces of relationship advice from many people, and media projections of a perfect relationship.
With that, some people have the fear that their relationship might crumble anytime. Therefore, not putting all their eggs in one basket means having a backburner relationship. Besides, it makes them look “smart” and strong to move on quickly after the end of a relationship.
Many times, people act based on their experience in their previous relationships. When you put someone on the back burner, you act based on your experience. The end of a relationship can hurt deeper than you think, especially if you were committed. You might be scared to experience the same thing with a new relationship. Therefore, a backburner relationship becomes your best chance.
4. Avoidance of commitment
What is a backburner relationship? It is a way to avoid commitment. One of the main reasons people have backburner relationships is to shield them from real commitment or being responsible in their current relationship. Keeping external contacts would mean they need to be more emotionally invested. As such, they don’t need to be attached in any way.
A typical backburner relationship requires less than your 100% attention or availability. There is no expectation that the relationship is going anywhere. It can fail at any time, so this fact absorbs you of any responsibility or commitment. There is little or no pressure to make it work or to do your best.
5. It makes them feel good
Many people don’t know, but some keep backburner relationships because it makes them feel good about themselves. These people see themselves as strong and capable of having two parties simultaneously. Also, they think they are smart and brave to consider another option. They have the power to end a backburner relationship at any time.
10 signs your partner has a backburner relationship
Now that you know the psychology of a backburner relationship, you might be thinking of how to deal with a backburner relationship or a way out. That’s a smart decision, but before you do that, you should know the signs your partner has a backburner relationship. That will ensure that whatever decision you take, it’s in good faith and for a good reason. Check out the following signs:
1. They never have solid plans
One of the top signs that someone has a backburner relationship is that they don’t have plans. Remember, a backburner relationship only requires little effort and attention. They don’t need to be emotionally or physically available, even though they are in a “committed” relationship.
If you are put on a backburner, you will notice that your partner always talks about plans, but they never make them. For instance, they can call you about going on a vacation the following month or to see you; however, they will be disappointed and cancel at the last minute.
Their usual excuse is that they are busy or unsure of their schedule. However, the reality is they never had the intention to do anything. Instead, they want to make you feel good about them.
2. They talk but never show you love
Another sign you should know to deal with a backburner relationship is someone who talks about love. They paint you the best picture of love and tell you how you are their savior, “divine” soulmate, or better half, yet they do not attempt to show it. Action, they say, speaks louder than voice.
Someone who loves you goes out of their way to make you happy. Some people hardly talk but show their partners they love them through their actions. A person who rides on a backburner relationship, however, only thrives in talking without action.
Related Reading: 30 Signs Your Wife Doesn’t Love You Anymore
3. They hardly call
In our social media age, calling your lover is normal, regardless of how busy you are. Sadly, if you are in a backburner relationship, your partner won’t call you as often as you do. When you complain, they are quick to find one excuse.
For instance, they may say they are too busy or even lie that they never see your call. Some individuals can even lie that they have anxiety when people call them. Indeed, this might be true in many cases, but it doesn’t apply to someone you claim to love. A person who loves and is committed to you will always want to hear your voice.
4. It takes ages for them to text back
Similar to calls is text. When someone takes time before texting you back, they may not be committed to you as much as you think. If they aren’t texting you as quickly as possible, another person is taking their time and attention.
Don’t let anyone deceive you by using their unavailability as an excuse to leave your text hanging. Everyone gets busy, don’t they? But we all have priorities. Besides, you can be busy, but leaving texts for days before you answer shows there is an option. You shouldn’t even put an ordinary person’s text on hold for that long, let alone with your partner.
No matter how busy they are, if someone is interested in communicating with you, they will find the time. Besides, most people are always on their phones, so they have no excuse.
Related Reading: 15 Important Factors About Whether to Text Him or Not
5. They text late
When someone is in a back burner relationship, every action shows their non-commitment or an urgent need to rush off. One notable sign someone put you on a burner is how they text. People in a backburner relationship hardly ever text. When they eventually do, they do so very late at night or midnight. Also, when they don’t, you might not be online.
This action shows they aren’t giving a chance for a long conversation. Their action of texting back is to ensure they can say they reply to you after all. This can be emotionally draining for the other person.
6. They cancel your plans constantly
Before you deal with a backburner relationship, check out this sign. Does your partner cancel your plans a lot? Then, that’s your sign that they are not exclusively committed. Canceling your meeting or dinner date with your partner is normal. Things can come up, and they might be too important to leave.
Therefore, it’s understandable if you call your partner and explain. However, notice a pattern of canceling any scheduled meet-up or date. In that case, your partner may need to focus more on the relationship. They have other commitments taking their time.
7. They disappear for a long time
One characteristic of a person in a backburner relationship is that they can suddenly go awol. They leave their partner for a long time and expect them to wait. They have no excuse or tangible reason or leave no note.
They go away without informing their partner. When they reappear, they act like nothing happened or their disappearance is normal. If their partner complains, they make them feel they are complaining too much.
Related Reading: 20 Reasons Guys Act Interested but Then Disappear
8. They show up only when they need something
Someone in a backburner relationship can run off for a long time. When they finally reappear, you may think they are back to you. However, this is different. You only need to wait a little longer to discover that they have a mission.
They most likely need your help or need something from you. For example, your partner may return after a long time seeking financial help. While you can help them in this condition, speak up and let them know your mind about their behavior.
9. Things happen on their terms
Backburner relationships exist based on the protocols of others. It’s as if you have no voice of your own. Only your partner determines when or where to meet.
This person determines the date, the venue you attend, or the activities to do. It’s not like you have no say, but you have to check in with them. Due to their lack of focus and unavailability, you find yourself waiting for them before doing anything.
10. They don’t invite you to important events
Who doesn’t like to show off their partner? A person that keeps a backburner relationship doesn’t. After spending time together at the beginning of a relationship, expecting your partner to invite you to events is normal.
However, if they aren’t forthcoming, that’s your sign that they may have a backburner relationship. It may help to confront them and hear their reasons.
5 Ways to deal with a backburner relationship
Once you are convinced that your partner has a backburner relationship, it’s expected that you seek how to deal with a backburner relationship. For example, you may want to know how to get out of a backburner relationship or a way to end a backburner relationship. Nevertheless, appropriately dealing with a backburner relationship is best. Check out the following ways:
1. Don’t be scared to confront your partner
The best way to deal with a backburner relationship isn’t to stay silent or continue to doubt what you see. Many stay with a partner who keeps a backburner relationship because they are scared to speak up. Don’t let your fears overcome you. Instead, speak up as soon as possible.
Related Reading: 20 Things Cheaters Say When Confronted
2. Discuss with your partner
One way to deal with a partner with a backburner relationship is to talk to them. Confront them about your feelings, highlighting every sign that points to your conclusion. Back up your assertions with lots of evidence that they can’t deny.
3. Don’t be emotional
It can be tempting to shout or yell at your partner for the way they have treated you in the past, but you should remain calm. Otherwise, you won’t pass your message appropriately as you should.
Related Reading: 14 Tips on How to Control Your Emotions in a Relationship
4. Don’t expect a miracle
To avoid disappointment, you shouldn’t expect your partner to give you tangible reasons for their actions. Often, backburner relationships are intentional. They don’t just happen overnight. Therefore, it’s likely that your partner may become defensive and give excuses. In this case, don’t be surprised. Take it in good faith, which will help in your next step.
5. Consider relationship counseling
Suppose you need to figure out what action or step to take or want to avoid making rash decisions. In that case, it is best to go for relationship counseling. You may also consider seeing a therapist. These professionals can help you understand your circumstances and come up with solutions to help you out.
Let’s discuss the most asked questions about a back burner relationship.
Are there healthy ways to have a backburner relationship
If you have a spouse who thinks you are committed to them, there are no healthy ways to have a backburner relationship. It’s safe if you are single. That way, no person can be hurt. Even though you may show that you like someone, you can’t hurt them directly if you don’t explicitly say it.
Is a backburner relationship cheating
Even though a backburner relationship isn’t cheating exclusively, it can lead to cheating. Maintaining a friendship with an ex or someone looks harmless, and on the outside, it is. However, the intention here is to have accessibility to them should your main relationship not work out.
A backburner meaning having another potential partner different from your relationship. It needs more commitment, trust, and honesty. The psychology of a backburner relationship is to keep your options open.
Still, it affects your main partner in the end. This article has done a good job of explaining everything about backburner relationships and the signs. Also, it explores effective ways to deal with a backburner relationship effectively.
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