Raise your hand if you like someone.
Now put it down.
Raise your hand if you like more than one person.
Now put it down.
Raise your hand if you like one person more than the other person.
Now put it down.
Raise your hand if you understand the phrase, "they're on my back burner."
Now put it down.
Raise your hand if you've done it to someone, and used them, and abused them, and left them high and dry when someone better came along, not once, not twice, but more times than you can count.
You may officially be kind of a jerk.
Now don't get me wrong, I am ALL about the multi-tasking dating life. I have guys that I date. I have guys that act as my emotional stalwart companions. I have my Scrabble buddies. I have guys that I crush on. I have my bartenders (hey hey!). And I have those guys that are on my periphery should one of the others fail to meet my expectations. <-- no but really this is a carefully constructed pyramid of menfolk, one piece moving could jeopardize the entire system.
But one thing, I don't do is lie to them about what they are (aside from the guys I have crushes on - can't tell them. It'd upset the whole balance of crushdom). I am all about letting guys know where they stand in my life. I have a life label maker and toss up those labels like no body's business.
Because, it's one thing to have two people who know exactly where they stand, i.e. a bed buddy and the person you're dating. As long as that bed buddy understands the rules of engagement and isn't going to be asking you to grab some coffee or go meet their parents - no one get hurts. But if your bed buddy starts to get couple-y, you need to redraw the lines.
And it's another thing, if you're playing those, "I don't want to put labels on it" lines, and you're not a commitment-phobe, because at that point you need to grow up. It's one thing to be a confirmed bachelor/bachelorette who Hugh Hefners their way through life. (Yes I just used Hugh Hefner as a verb). It's another to have a "string of beaus and make them crazy for you." - Anne of Green Gables.
So often people find the man/girl of their dreams and pursue them with taste and refinement only to discover that slowly they're pushed further and further from the "let's plan dates 3 days to a week ahead of time" and more into the "hey I'm bored/lonely/horny" monthly phase. You notice that the time you spend with each other grows wider, but you still date. You're not a fuck buddy by any means. You've met the friends, hung out on a Saturday night watching a movie without sexytime, but you're clearly not this guy/girl's main priority, because you only see them once every 2/3 months.
To me that screams, back burner.
But how do you know if you've been put on the back burner? I have a classic example of back burner vs. backup - using my own, high-quality-completely-not-messed-up-dating-life.
I have a really good guy friend with whom I made a pact.
You see, when I first got to college, I went to this palm reader in the quad with my friend Lys, you can read her blog here. Now her being her, she asked the palm reader about her career. Me being me (I am a pisces after all) I asked about my love life. "When would I be married!?" Ten years she said. So if I would like to not tempt the fates according to some sketchy palm reader - I have until 2016 to get a ring on it. Never one to buck a chance at a good story, I told my concerns to my guy friend, who agreed that 2016 was a quality year to get married. So a la "My Bestfriend's Wedding" starring Julia Roberts, we made a pact that if neither of us are married/in a serious relationship at that time, our wedding bells will ring.
I know what you're thinking. Man, um, that's really young to have a marriage pact - that barely gives you time to live out the rest of your twenties.
Well guess what, I have four babies to pop out so I think that's a great year to have a wedding! Bite me.
My back burner.
Once upon a time I met Mr. Kryptonite. I fell into crush faster than you could say, "crush." I had classes with him, we lived in the same building. I sucked at economics, and he was good at them, so he became my study partner. And life went on... And then life involved some kissing... And then life involved some dating... And then life was put on pause.
Where did he go? Wasn't it just last week we were all over each other like wolverines in heat? A month goes by. Then two. Then Three. Then he pops up again. And life involved some kissing, and some dating, and pause. And then he disappeared again. A few more months and then like a burly jack-in-the-box he popped up, again.
You can see where this is going. Turns out in those months when I'd never hear from him, he didn't learn how to not talk contrary to what I thought... he was talking and dating other girls, trying to find whatever piece he was missing from his fucked up puzzle.
Eventually I got fed up with being pushed aside only to be brought back whenever he felt like it, so I moved on. Got myself a boyfriend, started living my happy little life, broke up with boyfriend because I self-sabotage my happy little life, and guess who popped up.
If you guessed Mr. Kryptonite you win a pat on the back.
Somehow he had found out I was single. If by now you can't see where this is going, I'll break it down... six years of only getting some attention when the pans on the front burners over heat, is enough to drive a girl insane - like actually, certifiably insane.
But that's the point. Putting someone consistently on your back burner isn't right. Either give it a go, or let them go. Don't leave someone guessing about whether or not you're into them. Grow a pair of balls and step up to the plate of life.
If you don't like the idea of only having one person in your dating pool, multi-task that shit. Just make sure everyone in the mix knows where they stand. Act like an adult and handle things in an adult, "let's talk about what I'm looking for" manner.
Don't consistently throw the same person under the bus every other month because the other ones never work out. Because at the end of the day that person you've thrown there on the back burner will start to resent that you've used them, and then they bubble themselves right off the stove. What are you left with then? A dirty emotional stove to clean. Good luck with that.