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Thursday, Feb. 29
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

Digitally commit

A new study from IU-Purdue University Fort Wayne found Facebook users who are in relationships use Facebook to stay connected with their “backups” or “back-burners.” Apparently, the study found that both men and women, on average, had romantic or sexual conversations with two people outside of their current relationship. The study however, found no correlation between having back-burners and one’s commitment to their current relationship.

In light of the non-correlation, many might want to dismiss it as not a big deal, but I want to point out that the absence of a correlation does not make the presence of a back-burner any less wrong or any more justified. In fact, in a monogamous relationship, unless otherwise explicitly stated, the presence of back-burners violates what a commitment is .

Indeed, many might rather believe that having a backup or not is purely a matter of personal preference. In fact, the results from the study confirm this: having backups does not interfere with one’s commitment to their current relationship — right? And by that logic, if there is no interference to one’s commitment, then there isn’t a problem to begin with.

People even make life plans with planned out alternatives, so the presence of a back-up, or the occasional sext or hardcore flirting, is benign.

But this is problematic.

Under this “all is okay so long as we’re committed” logic, it would also be acceptable to have an occasional hook-up, an occasional one night stand, an occasional cheat, an occasional infidelity — just as long as it does not interfere with one’s commitment.

Yet, our common understanding of commitment suggests this is obviously not the case with most relationships people have in mind. Most people would believe that sexual fidelity and exclusivity are an inseparable part of what it means to commit. And in this case, I would believe that another part of commitment consists of the idea of not sexting possible backups, or having them for that matter.

For what distinguishes any regular relationship from a “committed” relationship is one’s exclusive commitment to be with their significant other. And this commitment entails that in making it, one is also simultaneously dismissing other possible opportunities for similar commitments — namely, the ?backups.

Think of marriage for example: if you marry one person, you are simultaneously dismissing the other possibilities of marrying someone else. And if you are committed to your marriage, then this entails that you do not seek out other people outside of your marriage, even as backups.

Now in saying this, I am not trying to impose any ideals of what a relationship should look like. But the point is, unless a person is open to dismissing sexual fidelity and exclusivity as terms for commitment in a relationship (which is less common, though entirely possible, especially in the case of open relationships), the presence of a backup should not be treated as something benign simply because it violates what it means, conventionally, to commit.

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