A woman who’d been dating for a few months wanted more.
It had been going well between them but she wasn’t sure of their status. “We have a ‘thing’ but I wouldn’t exactly call him my boyfriend.”
When I asked if they were dating exclusively, she shrugged. “That’s just it,” she said. “I really don’t know.”
Her friends had told her it was a “situationship” — and she wasn’t sure she liked the label. “It’s not what I signed on for — but I don’t know how to change it.”
What is a situationship?
“The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them.”― Steve Hall
A situationship is dating without definition or commitment. It’s more than a booty call, more than Friends with Benefits — but it hasn’t crossed over into the relationship zone. Not yet, anyway.
Many, if not most, relationships start out this way — in the grey zone, while you both figure out if you like each other enough to have the “what are we and where is this going” chat. But many also stay there, when one isn’t up for a commitment.
Keeping things casual, or open, can be freeing if you both like it that way — and if it’s meeting a need for you right now through sex, touch, affection and/or connection. But the problem with situationships is that emotions get involved — of course they do — and one party often ends up wanting more. And, in the end, a relationship without parameters just causes more uncertainty and angst in a world already riddled with it.
Trying to move on from a situationship can also be tricky because — technically — there’s nothing to break off. So it can leave unresolved feelings, frustration and resentment.
Here are the common signs you’re in a situationship:
- You don’t get to meet the person’s friends and family.
- Plans are frequently binned at the last minute (unless they involve sex).
- There’s only vague talk of the future.
- Talk and messages are often sexually oriented.
- The contact between you is erratic — sometimes full on, then stretches of silence.
- You can’t count on this person to attend important events with you.
- When asked, you can’t put a label on the “arrangement”.
- You feel a rumbling anxiety about the relationship because you’re not sure where you stand.
Turning a Situationship Into a “Real Thing”
Many situationships do go the distance and turn into loving committed relationships. But it can also be an easy way out for someone who wants to keep their options open, who can’t help thinking there might be someone better out there in dating app land.
So if you find yourself in the drift zone — and you don’t want to be — it’s time for a chat. Here are some steps to take.
1. Do you like your status?
Ask yourself: Am I completely happy with the way things are? Am I okay with the uncertainty? Am I not getting my emotions in a tangle? (If yes to all three questions, close this post and go enjoy yourself.) If no, move to point 2.
2. Do you feel respected by the person you’re with?
Don’t feel respected? Hmmm. Respect shouldn’t just cover the period of time you’re together — anyone can put on an act in the short term, especially if it involves sex. Respect should cover all of their behaviour towards you. Make sure the way they are treating you consistently is what you want.
3. Find your voice.
Having a voice — speaking up for your own needs — is crucial in any relationship. Tell the person you’re with how you’re feeling and what you’d like from the relationship. You can talk about marriage and kids if you like, but you should at least know what you want in the short term. Yes, this carries a risk if they don’t want the same thing. But, either way, it’s information you need to know. Be brave. This is about you and your happiness. It’s sad to cling on to someone who doesn’t really want you. Or only wants you when the lights are out and there’s no-one else around.
4. Set parameters you’re both okay with.
Are we exclusive? Closing down our dating profiles? How about we give it a month and reassess. It doesn’t matter what you decide on, as long as you both buy into it — and stick to it. Just aim to take the uncertainty and confusion out of your “situation”.
5. Know what you’re worth.
Okay, I’ll answer that. You’re worth a lot. If the person you’re with truly knows it, they’ll show it, in whatever ways work for you.
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