"Back-up husbands," "emotional affairs," and the rise of digital infidelity

A new study by researchers at the University of Indiana found that Facebook users in relationships frequently use the site to keep in touch with “back-burners” — exes or platonic friends they know they could connect with romantically, should their current relationships go south. Men have back-burners at roughly twice the rate of women, the study found. But among both genders, the practice is widespread: On average, respondents in relationships said they had romantic or sexual conversations with two people (!) besides their current partner.

That comes on top of a a recent release by the research agency OnePoll, which suggested as many as half of all women keep in touch with a “back-up husband” they could contact if their current husband doesn’t work out. (“With sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with an old flame,” a OnePoll rep told the Daily Mail.)

Meanwhile, sex researchers have recently begun to treat “remote infidelity” — emotional cheating, via social media or smartphone — as a valid topic of research.