Have you ever felt like you're putting more into a relationship than your partner is? Do you constantly feel like you have to do things on their schedule? Are you often left feeling like you're not their first option, but maybe their last? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, there's a good chance you're in what's called a "backburner relationship," and it's exactly what it sounds like.
"Most backburner relationships only benefit one person, they are almost always one-sided."
In the midst of the pandemic, people began falling back on partners that they had never given a chance to before, and while this may sound sweet at first, these kinds of relationships are not as romantic as they sound. "Backburner relationships are often those relationships that emerge when you are lonely," marriage therapist Rabiia Ali told POPSUGAR. Since the pandemic has been such an isolating time, it's easy to see how these two correlate, and how people can end up with partners they don't actually want to be with. According to Ali, "This is your 'break the glass, in case of emergency' person who you know will be available whenever you call or say you are ready to be involved." This person has always been there, but they were never the other's first choice. Having a relationship like this gives power to one person and leaves the other feeling less than when it comes to being valued. "Most backburner relationships only benefit one person, they are almost always one-sided," Ali said. And in order to stop a cycle like this, you have to know the main signs.
Does Your Partner Have You on the Backburner?
When you're in a relationship of this nature and your partner has the power, you'll accept behaviour that you would not normally accept. You'll find ways to ignore the fact that they don't want to spend time with you, are not texting back, and are not making time for you when in reality, they are simply putting you on the backburner. You'll feel like you are always making the effort to spend time with them, grow in the relationship, and be their partner. Backburner relationships can also leave partners feeling confused or sad, wondering why their significant other doesn't put them first.
Are You the One Putting Someone on the Backburner?
As for someone who's on the other side of a backburner relationship, it's best to ask yourself these questions: are you just with this person because you are lonely? It might be easy to fall back on someone who has always been there, but why did you just now decide to engage in a relationship with them and not earlier? "Do an inventory of your own emotional state prior to engageing in a backburner relationship," said Ali. "Are you just reaching out or answering the phone because you feel like this is a sure way to cure that loneliness? Do you actually like this person? Asking yourself these questions can give you a clear indication that you may be engageing for reasons other than you want to share a life with that other person." Being aware of why you're actually in a relationship with someone can help you to figure out your feelings before it's too late, and before you or your partner get too hurt.
If you've found yourself on either end of a backburner relationship, the best advice is to acknowledge it and leave. "You deserve to be front and centre of your lover's life," Sangeeta Pillai, founder of Soul Sutras, told POPSUGAR. "If they're not giving you that priority that you deserve, get out. It's really not worth it." Being with someone who respects and values you is more important than anything, no matter how lonely you might feel. Whether you're in a backburner, unhappy, or unhealthy relationship, know your worth and find a partner who knows it, too.