Keeping your exes on the ‘back burner’ leads to negative feelings all around — even if you don’t actually jump back into bed with them — a study has warned.

Experts led from the University of Oklahoma surveyed nearly 400 adults in long-term relationships to find that more than half were keeping someone else ‘in spare’.

However, doing so led to bad feelings about both the other person and themselves, especially when the flirt is supposedly in an exclusive relationship.

Photo by Charly Pn on Unsplash

The study was conducted by interpersonal communication expert John Banas of the University of Oklahoma and his colleagues.

‘If having ex-partner back burners cascades into increased communication, increased sexual activity, and bad feelings for the admirer,’ began Dr Banas.

Then, he continued, ‘those in committed relationships might wish to exercise greater caution before forming a back-burner relationship with an ex-partner.’

In their study, the researchers surveyed 397 adults in committed romantic relationships with an average length of seven years.

The team found that the majority of subjects — 62 per cent — admitted to keeping someone on the proverbial back burner.

Photo by Lauren Richmond on Unsplash

This is even though 85 per cent said they were married and 93 per cent said their relationship with their partner was exclusive.

And of those keeping someone — or multiple people — in their back pocket, half said that they were stringing along one or more exes.

‘As we see society re-opening, there appears to be a surge in the use of dating apps during what has been dubbed “The Summer of Love”,’ said psychologist Brenda Wiederhold of California’s Interactive Media Institute, who was not part of the study.

This, she continued, makes it ‘ever more important to study new trends in connecting for friendship and romance.’

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.