In this study, we examined the prevalence of and communication with backburners (romantic alternatives) within a sample of both married (n= 188) and casually dating (n = 230) men and women in the United States. We also examined the roles of relationship length, commitment, sex, and marital status in the number of backburners reported and their communication with backburners, generally, as well as their communication with their most desired backburner. Extending previous studies using undergraduates, we found that commitment level was unrelated to the number of reported backburners. However, commitment was negatively related to the amount of communication with all backburners. Meanwhile, married individuals reported having more backburners than those who were only casually dating, but they also reported communicating with their most desired backburner less frequently and seeing them less often. Finally, men reported significantly more backburners with whom they would have a sexual relationship and also interacted with their backburners more frequently than did women. Thus, although marriage and commitment do not keep individuals from having backburners, they do appear to provide some buffer against communicating with backburners on social media and seeing them in person.

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The Social Science Journal