Title

Simmering on the Back Burner: Communication with and Disclosure of Relationship Alternatives

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Publication Source

Communication Quarterly

Volume

63

Issue

3

Inclusive pages

329–344

DOI

10.1080/01463373.2015.1039719

Abstract

The term “back burner” describes a desired potential romantic/sexual partner with whom one communicates with the intent of establishing a future romantic or sexual connection. Contemporary communication technologies (e.g., mobile phones, social networking applications) facilitate connections with back burners. Two survey studies (Ns = 347, 374) showed that back burner communication is relatively common among college students; however, college students also have many romantic or sexual interests that they do not consider back burners. Additionally, although most college students will not fully disclose their communication with back burners to their partners, approximately half fully disclose communication with romantic or sexual desirables to their partners. Therefore, the results of this study suggest that back burners can be distinguished from those with whom we would entertain having a romantic or sexual connection. Theoretically, they can also be distinguished from other types of casual sexual relationships.

Keywords

Back Burners, Casual Sexual Relationships, Communication Technology, Interpersonal Communication, Relationship Alternatives

Disciplines

Psychology

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