Back burners are people with whom one communicates to potentially establish a future romantic or sexual relationship, and these relationships are common among college students. Using a sample of noncollege adults currently in committed relationships (N = 246) obtained via Amazon's MTurk, this study examines how a prior relationship role with a desired back burner (i.e., whether a back burner was an ex-partner or not) affects digital communication and sexual activity with back burners, and participants' negative affect. Sequential mediation analysis revealed that when the most-desired back burner was also an ex-partner (vs. not), participants digitally communicated more, increased communication was positively related to sexual activity with that back burner, and sexual activity was associated with negative affect in the participant. Even in the absence of sexual activity, both increased digital communication and simply having an ex-partner as one's most-desired back burner were associated with negative affect. Limitations and implications for staying in touch with ex-partners are discussed.
Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw
Banas, John A; Dibble, Jayson L; Bessarabova, Elena; and Drouin, Michelle, "Simmering on the Back Burner or Playing with Fire? Examining the Consequences of Back-Burner Digital Communication Among Ex-Partners." (2021). Health Services and Informatics Research. 44.