I read an article mentioning a research study that found that technology today was aiding people in relationships to keep certain friends on the back burner as a potential “safety net in case their current relationship goes south”. Well, maybe this is me being naive, but that seems a little sad. Really? So we’re hedging our risk by making sure we still have friends or previous acquaintances in case we ever break up with our current partner?
I mean, of course, in the finance world, that’s what you do. I remember talking to my clients in banks who wanted to protect themselves from a default with a Credit Default Swap. But come on! We’re talking about love! Shouldn’t we be living in the now? And not planning our next relationship? I mean, I was like this in the beginning. I was struggling to focus on the ‘now’. I’m guessing it had something to do with being a Third Culture Kid and living in five different cities before the age of eighteen. You learn that leaving and goodbyes are the norm. And you start protecting yourself by detaching from your current friends to make room for the new. If you didn’t slightly disentangle yourself from those connections when you felt a goodbye coming, you would really struggle with the separation. It’s a defense mechanism. It’s a way to cope. But when you’re in a stable, committed relationship, should you be expecting the worst? And keeping people on the back burner in case your relationship crumbles?
We hear about break-ups, cheating, divorces everywhere. We see and read about it everywhere in the media. But we also hear it firsthand from our best friends. You almost expect it to happen to you at any moment. It would be naive to think that it could never happen to us.
But does this mean you should live in fear that it will? And worry about it constantly? And keep those random contacts as potential future partners? I don’t think so. You could spend the whole time expecting the worst. Or you could live in the now, hope for the best and work on your current relationship to make it the best it can be. Keeping people on the back-burner seems cynical and a bit mean really. For one, you’re leading those people on you keep on the side. If you’re chatting to them on Facebook. Or sending them a WhatsApp message on a random Sunday evening. They think there’s a chance. That, at some point, you’ll leave your partner and jump into their arms! And what about your current partner? Isn’t that showing disrespect towards them?
What are your thoughts? Do you feel differently about keeping people on the back burner? Does technology encourage it?