#ISuckAtRelationships: Don’t Play the Field, Work Your Burners
My latest book, I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To, is out in paperback today. In case you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, the book is all about my ten rules for not screwing up your happily ever after. For one of these rules – “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game” – I touch upon a game I like to play called the Burner Method. I didn’t make it up. Most guys know exactly what this is. They’ve been doing it for years, even if they don’t know this game by name.
The Burner Method is like cooking a big dinner. You’re making multiple dishes and you have a lot of pots on the stove at once. Each one is cooking at a different temperature. Some are priority dishes, some are just side dishes, but you keep them all going because dinner is more interesting when you’re having more than one dish.
In dating, the Burner Method involves keeping multiple potential partners on the “burners” at all times, so you have a lot of options and you always have someone to do something with. You keep them all focused on you, but you focus on the ones you really want, giving the others just enough to stay interested. The advantage is that having multiple burners keeps you from over focusing and becoming obsessive about the ones you really like.
Here’s how to play:
1. Set up your burners. Think about all the guys in your life: flirtations, passions, friends. They can all be on the burners. You should always have something bubbling, something warm, and something that’s cooling off.
2. Turn on the stove. Once you’ve got your burners all set up, it’s time to play. Stay in touch with all of your burners. Don’t dwell on one pot and ignore all the others. Don’t lead anybody on, but be out there in the world having fun and keeping your connections active.
3. Cook your meal. The Burner Method takes focus, attention, and vigilance. You have to be observant. If one of the people on your burners isn’t working out for any reason, remove that pot and replace it with another one. If a burner is boiling over, turn down the heat and step back from the stove.
4. Practice kitchen safety. If you think someone is going to get genuinely hurt, turn off that burner and remove the pot. Your burner should be full of people who can handle it, just like you have to be able to handle it. Be sensitive, and play at your own pace. Never forget that every relationship is an opportunity to practice and work on yourself, even if it’s not going to be a keeper. It’s the only way to check out all of your options and grow as a person at the same time.
Just remember that the Burner Method is a game and a temporary situation. You also probably don’t want to be the person who works the burners for life. As soon as one person is clearly the hottest, best, most irresistible person on your burners and that person feels the same way about you, there is an unwritten emotional contract that neither one of you is playing the field anymore. Turn off all the other burners and focus on keeping your fledgling relationship hot. If it doesn’t work, you can always play another round.
For more relationship tips, read I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To by Bethenny Frankel, available on Amazon.com.