Saturday, November 13, 2010

The BACK-BURNER...You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Ah the “back-burner”, the elusive phrase that can describe so many relationships in Los Angeles and around the world. Like the slow, simmer, soup that is wildly popular around the holidays, the back-burner is the dreaded place where we place relationships we aren’t quite ready to let cool off, but alas we’re still considering cooking something else - something better than leftover soup. The concept of the back-burner came to my attention recently (probably because I was back-burnered) and it made me wonder…why do we do this to people? If we don’t like them, why don’t we just NOT date them? OR if we like them enough to want to keep ‘em cooking for the “just in case I get horny” scenario, then why don’t we DATE them? What makes someone “back-burner” material, and once we put them there can they ever progress to the main course?

I wrote that bubble ... I am multi-talented. 
Not Available for Microwave Use…

In the most recent saga of my (almost non-existent) relationship life I was back-burnered (gasp!). I know what you are thinking…You? The most, brilliant, awesome, girl of all time? But yes, it happened. I had a bit of a crush on a very cute guy, and after a few weeks of flirting actually managed to hang out with him...alone! Things were going well (I thought) and he would text me, call me, ask me how my week was, see what I was up to: you know, the usual mid-day hey, how is your day text that is supposed to lead to other plans being…planned. However, after awhile it became apparent that the really-nice-cute-guy-who-seemed-interested was never actually making any plans with me. After our one jaunt together he was…dare I say…keeping me attached, but not following through. It took me a few weeks (okay I lied…two months) for it to dawn on me that I had been placed on his back-burner. He was keeping me just warm enough in case he got hungry and wanted some soup…but not hot enough to have to commit to the whole meal. So the question is why? Did he not like me? Did he not want a relationship? Why keep someone on the line, if you aren’t that interested? Then it hit me…we all back-burner people, so while I was on his back-burner someone else was on mine. Are we consciously choosing who is soup and who is prime rib (or lentils if you’re vegetarian and that metaphor is lost on you)? And if we are…are we even conscious of it?

He’s Just Not that Into You (have I heard that somewhere else?)…

I was sitting at a bar the other day (okay my bar) and struck up a conversation with a male acquaintance of mine. He was telling about a recent sexual escapade (a story which cannot be repeated here) and I was listening intently. At the end of the tale I asked him, “What happened to the girl?” His response: “What do you mean…nothing.”  I was confused, from his story it seemed like he had a good time. I probed further:

Me: “Did you go out with her again?”
Him: “Uh, no”
Me: “Why not?”
Him: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Didn’t you like her?”
Him: “Yeah, I still text her.”
Me: “Why?”
Him: “Because I want to know what she’s up to.”
Me: “But not hook up with her?”
Him: “Well, maybe…it could happened again.”

There it is (If I had drawing capabilities I would draw an arrow to that last line in the conversation and attach blinking yellow lights to it, and possibly add a slot machine sound effect). “It could happen again.” I went on to explain that he “back-burnered” the girl. Except, he didn't even realize what he had done. He was completely oblivious to his own actions. It simply didn't dawn on him to continue seeing her or attempt at forming a relationship. He liked her enough to want to keep her around in the virtual world of text and BBM’s (or whatever the kids are using), but didn’t like her enough to want to date her. She is now the “Just in Case Booty Call”- but the exquisite art of the back-burner is that the back-burned person doesn’t feel offended by said call because in their mind it is just another text (of many) from the guy who seems interested but really is not. It’s’ devilishly brilliant!

Let me tell you…the back-burner is a fine line to keep, and a great skill to have. You have to straddle the world between seeming interested, but not committing to plans. You have to keep the soup warm, but not burn it. So again, why is it done? My acquaintance from the bar didn’t even realize what he had done…he had simply been following his male instinct and therefore had no answers for me…so once again I interviewed the masses (aka my friends) and this is what I discovered about who is on the back-burner and why they are there!

You’re Super Hot, Kinda Hot,Warm, Still Warm…not being re-heated anytime soon

When I asked all my male friends why they back-burner girls the number one answer was: “I don’t want a relationship”. Okay, so it’s the timing issue again. We’ve been there. They like them enough to hang out with them and booty call them but want to remain single regardless. This is not news. However, with girls, I discovered it’s a bit different. It has less to do with timing and more to do with the person. When I back-burner someone it’s because I don’t want to date THEM. Not because I am not looking for a relationship. It’s that I don’t want a relationship with THEM. Other girls said similar things: they will stay in relationships longer than they should (resulting in a pseudo-backburner) because they know they won’t marry the guy, or seriously be with him, but it’s comfortable for now. So the question remains can someone jump off the back-burner and into the pan?

The answer (according to me) is: NO. Once you have been back-burnered you are there for life…until you spoil (i.e. you get attached, angry, jealous, resentful, moldy) and must be tossed away. If you put someone on the backburner it’s because you really aren’t that into them. Let’s be honest. We keep people there because we get lonely and want something comfortable and reliable to go back to…but at the end of the day we are constantly looking for a better meal. We are hoping that someone else will come along, spice up our life and give us a reason to actually commit to someone. The truth is, if you aren’t committing, if you’re only lukewarm, then you are settling. Settling because you’re alone, settling because you’re bored, settling because you’re horny…but still settling. And no one wants to settle…that’s why we keep people safely on the back of the stove at a low setting, let them simmer and eventually they cool off.

So if you find yourself in this situation (and are reciprocating the lukewarm, unable to commit, back-burner feelings) then you enter a “friends with benefits” situation which is totally fine and can be rather fun. However, if you find yourself on the back stove and you secretly want more (you know who you are)…GET OUT…get out now, run far away and go find yourself a turkey!


  1. i love reading these

  2. Aw! Thanks lady, who I've never met before :)

  3. Who knew food was provided such insight into the inner-workings of intimate relations!

    We seriously need to hang out. :) -Sharon

  4. I two fav things:) AND i Miss you and wish we were still roomies! I need to see your new place...possibly with some vino accompaniment.

  5. And just in time for Thanksgiving. Food is important, but so are wine, women and song.

  6. THANK YOU! this is definitely a thing!