Back Burner Special

In my previous post on relationships, I received one comment, to which I’d like to give thanks, and reply.  Vijinho made some great points, reminding me there’s still plenty of ground to cover.

The Back Burner Special is one of my favorite terms to describe people who are, publicly, in exclusive relationships, where either partner remains on the lookout for the Next Best Thing.  It covers a countless percentage of people in “monogamous” relationships, who are unsatisfied, pretending, hopelessly waiting for the partnership to collapse.  Depending on the level of deception (and/or willful ignorance) in regards to the other side, the partner who is having the Back Burner Special, is stuck without a healthy option until he or she decides to Dump the Lump.  If someone is under the unshakable perception that being in a couple is a requirement of life or happiness, the idea of dropping their unfitting baggage is frightening. Because being alone is quiet, cold, lonely or boring… a LOT more unpleasant than settling for the Back Burner Special.

But that’s not true, is it?

This syndrome is what my friend, Vijinho, describes as a “common illusion [with] seeds of mental illness.”  It’s due to a perceptibly “strong need to pair up,” which gives some people the feeling that we are “lucky to be with someone, anyone…  In their mindset, if you are single, there is something wrong with you!”

Funny, for people in these unfortunate relationships, my math says, often BOTH can do better.  Given that almost nobody works to their ultimate potential, I’ll go out on a limb and say if these people take the most obvious steps required to improve themselves – development of Emotional Independence being critical – they will then be capable of attracting a superior quality of mate.  Simple math, folks.

It might seem like a dark abyss, the thought of being single.  But I’ll tell you why the grass is greener on this side.  Instead of binding yourself in empty promises, you can enjoy a little bit of everything.  And do it without shame, nor any need to hide.  Your field of options is enormous, worldwide.  You don’t have to limit yourself.  Why try?

This is where I usually say, “Everyone brings something to the table; I want a feast!

This is Compartmentalization.  Dad told me, when I was still trying to understand my parents’ divorce as a kid, why he had so many other relationships:  We have certain people who we like to smooch on.  There are others who like to see movies with.  And there are only a few with whom you’ll talk politics or news.  Here’s where I like to add to the list: there are also special people we work out with, perhaps others we go to lunch with, and others still we who we may seek, when we have the blues.

While you’re out there, nourishing yourself, becoming accustomed to the sound of silence, and learning to appreciate the affection, camaraderie and bliss of having a cornucopia of friends, you may discover that you don’t need anyone.  That often, it’s too much to ask, expecting one person to be our everything.  That the time we spend in broken relationships is only ours to lose.

Time is a valuable thing, once you learn how to spend it.


2 thoughts on “Back Burner Special

  1. Totally true about that, people are too afraid to quit on a back burner special until they have someone to jump into a new relationship with and cling onto for dear life. They few brave ones that do venture into singlehood need a lot of time, help and support to eradicate their old approach to life, which usually entails that a significant other should be a part of very experience, good and bad for it to have meaning and be special. I am helping a friend right now who came out of a 6 year relationship with someone who clearly wasn’t suitable and who he clearly didn’t fit with and he is struggling to deal with having his own life and get on with it, but I have faith he will find a new way to look at things…
    Definitely agree with the idea of compartmentalization, and this is where a lot of relationships fall down, where one party doesn’t give the other the time, space, respect and trust to go out and nurture the other relationships and friendships that help make one a rounded, happy being. You need your ‘my time’ yet I have so many guys just disappear off the social radar as soon as they hook up with someone new… until it all comes crashing down again and then you are like “well where the hell were you all the time I needed my friend?” but you just bite your lip and hope they will learn!
    And yes, you can be single and a good guy, guilt-free if you’re not fooling anyone about what you expect from a relationship – I think the back burner special types are most envious of this.
    And on the gene-screening, I say never sell yourself short, lower your standards and expectations, remain calm, focused and sure about what it is you would want from a long term relationship if you were to have another one because if and when you do, it will be well worth the wait.

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