Sometimes you read a wonderful bit of research that proves something about the world you suspected was true, and not only does it confirm a belief, but also provides fodder for pub arguments, as well as making you a better person.
All thanks to Facebook. Not really.
So Julie Beck over at The Atlantic wrote this cracking article about why Facebook is terrible for serious relationships, and great for crap ones.
She's referring to those people you might meet, get their number while out, maybe even go on a few dates. It never goes anywhere, but when you're single, you keep checking in with them.
It's defined in the article as a "backburner" relationship.
Sometimes people are guilty of this while in relationships, which I say is a big no-no. Going outside of a relationship to have an emotional need met is an act of betrayal, made even easier by Facebook, but I'm getting off-topic.
In essence, the article says that it's easier than ever to string people along.
We do this because when single it feels nice to have romantic attention and options. It's also nice when there are problems in a relationship but again, it's a no-no. Stop. Doing. It.
So stringing people along for a bit of amorous fawning is certainly not a new phenomenon, it's just made a lot easier by the myriad number of easily accessible options we have to be in touch with each other.
Before we had all these options, people would drift out of our lives so much more easily. Moving to a different street, war, the plague, a new email address, etc.
In the olden days, we also had to do more to keep in touch with them, and that corresponding effort required a certain level of interest. A phone call, a letter, an organised meeting. All more meaningful than a Facebook message, and previously these were the only options.
It probably explains why people used to get married after a lingering glance at a societal ball, or after an erection inspired by brushing past someone in a doorway.
More options means more choice, which I think is a good thing.
Problems arise when you know that someone isn't the right person for you "but, what's the harm in saying 'hi', ya' know?"
You're keeping them around because it's easy, and it's more fun than not getting any attention.
Maybe if this is a person that you're attracted to, but the timing isn't right, there's good reason for a "backburner" relationship. Keeping in touch until you're both ready to have a crack at it.
In the majority of cases though, these are horrible things.
They give you a false sense of your own importance. It's like a scab you continually pick at, keeping it open instead of letting it heal and disappear.
Love hurts. It causes wounds that need to heal, and a scar is much better than a scab.
If you really liked this person that you've got on the backburner, why aren't you having a crack at it? If you don't have a solid answer to that question, then you're not being fair to the person that's on the backburner, or to yourself.
If you are interested, and there's no reason apart from your own fear, then have a crack. Why not?
If you're stringing the person along for that self-esteem boost that comes with romantic attention, even when it's not reciprocated by you, then time to let the person go.
I'm not perfect. I've done this myself, but I certainly don't do it anymore.
Relationships are hard. Love hurts. Nobody's perfect, but nobody should ever stop trying to be better. Fuck I don't know.