Are you drinking your morning cup of coffee and randomly thinking, “What the hell is a situationship?” You’ve heard the term many times before but never really thought about it.
Every day, a new buzzword pops up. First, there was the term “booty call.” Then it was “entanglement.” Now everything is about being in a situationship. But what does the word mean, and how do you know if you’re involved in one?
According to the Urban Dictionary, the term is a cross between situation and relationship. But you’ve probably already figured that out.
It’s a romantic arrangement that exists before or without a DTR (defining the relationship) discussion. Dating experts add that a dynamic like this may be temporary (after a few dates with someone), but it’s still too early to talk about the relationship’s status.
Or, it’s defined as the definition or meaning of the type of relationship. For example, you’re in the city for a short-term business assignment and start seeing someone casually.
To further explain, a situationship can also be defined as a romantic relationship with no commitment or expectations. Ironically put, all of these labels are used to define a label-free relationship.
Online dating apps offer many options, so committing to someone is challenging because we often think there’s someone better for us. How easy is it to be on a date with one person, and as soon as they get up to go to the bathroom, you can swipe right on another?
Having an undefined relationship is OK if that’s what both parties are looking for. They can be liberating, fun, and even sexually satisfying.
Plus, a situationship allows time to get to know someone without the pressure of making a decision immediately. However, like an FWB relationship, one partner can “catch feelings” and throw the casual relationship off course.
When you’re intimate with someone, a physiological reaction happens. The bonding hormone oxytocin is released when you cuddle, hug, or have sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, you can’t override it, and once emotions build, it can totally suck to be stuck in a situationship. Eventually, you feel rejected because the other person isn’t fully invested in you.
Now that you know what it is, here’s how to tell if you’re speeding down the situation path and, if so, how to step on the brakes before you ride off into a ditch.
Situationships: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Before determining whether or not you’re leaning more toward the situationship and less toward a relationship, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages.
- People have the freedom to explore their passions and make decisions without having to consider another person. You’re free to put yourself first without needing to check with a partner the way you would in a more defined relationship. Since you’re not consciously deciding to build a life with your significant other, every choice is yours.
- This is the time to do some self-growth. Explore relationships and dating to learn new ways to interact romantically with another person. Take special note of your likes and dislikes and your dealbreakers.
- Situationships can be convenient for where you currently are in your life. Not everyone is ready for a committed relationship due to life circumstances like a difficult breakup or you’re moving away soon.
- Another advantage is that you can screw anything in sight without a care in the world. Of course, that’s not for everybody, but you have that option because you’re not in a committed relationship. The need to be close and experience intimacy with another person is a human need. However, it’s much healthier in some cases if both people satisfy that need without committing, especially if that isn’t what either person wants or needs.
- You become emotionally vulnerable. Challenging emotions may come up if the situationship isn’t what you want. When you’re in an undefined relationship, you may second guess or doubt yourself, which can extend into other aspects of your life.
- This type of relationship doesn’t offer stable and consistent support. Typically, we have at least one person we can rely on to confide in or turn to when tough times come. Instinctually, you feel the need to get that support from your partner. Unfortunately, in a situationship that is undefined and lacks expectations, it’s challenging to feel like you can share difficult parts of your life or ask for support.
- The entire relationship is open to interpretation, which can be frustrating if that’s not what you want. In addition, ambiguity raises issues when individuals cannot determine the other person’s desires or level of interest. This can create uncertainty and anxiety for those involved.
- You may have to deal with many battles due to conflicting views of those involved in the situationship. The conflict can lead to stress and resentment, primarily for the person frustrated that the relationship is at a standstill and has not progressed further than anticipated.
Are You in a Situationship
So, now that you’ve got all the details, let’s figure out the signs that you are in a situationship.
1. There’s Someone Else (Or Many Someone Elses)
Here’s a dead giveaway: If you find out that your partner is sexually involved with one or more others, you could be in a situationship. Even with polyamorous couples, there are clear and concise boundaries in place so all parties remain informed and can consent to the limitations of the relationship.
But with situationships, communication definitely ain’t key. So you may find out about your partner’s cheating through mutual friends, social media, or–ugh!–a downtown in-person encounter.
2. There’s No Growth
Are you feeling like you’re stuck and aren’t hitting the typical relationship milestones? (ex, meeting each other’s friends for the first time, the anniversary of your first date.)? If so, you may need to give your relationship (or lack thereof) a reality check.
One of the most prominent signs of being in a situationship is when your relationship hasn’t progressed into meeting family and friends. The length of the relationship is also key for deciding whether it can bloom into something more.
The longer the relationship, the better the chance you’re stuck in the situationship. However, a shorter relationship may signify that one person isn’t ready and may take longer to progress, which happens frequently. In this instance, give it more time to see where the relationship is headed.
3. There’s No Consistency
A major plus of a conventional relationship is that you can rest assured that you will see and talk to your partner regularly. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for a situationship. They aren’t interested in hanging out with you several times a week, and you’re lucky if they invite you out once a week, but don’t expect that to happen too often.
4. Your Plans Are Always Short-Term or Last-Minute
When you’re in a relationship, you make plans weeks, months, and even sometimes years in advance because you intend to be together long-term.
A good indicator that you are in a situationship is if you aren’t invited to meet their family and friends or asked to attend family gatherings or vacations. If all you get is the Last-Minute-Larry invites, get a clue because they’re not interested in dating you.
5. They Always Have an Excuse
You may want to see them, but they always come up with an excuse as to why they can’t. “Work’s been hectic,” or “I need to go to the gym.” If any of these excuses sound familiar, TAG! You’re not it!
We get that sometimes plans change, and you can’t meet, but in a legitimate relationship, the excuse is always followed up with an alternative: “We can go out when I get home from the gym.”
When you’re in a relationship, you must make time for your significant other, no matter what, and you get that. But, on the other hand, in a situationship, there’s no urgency to solve a problem because you don’t care.
6. Your Conversations Are Mostly Small Talk
Yes, you know where they live and work, and possibly a few other personal details, like where they grew up or whether or not they fan out over Star Wars (Yes, please!). But let’s get real here: They feel more comfortable talking dirty to you than they do about discussing their hopes and dreams. If this is the case, sorry, but you are in a situationship.
Unfortunately, without a sense of trust, you have no vulnerability and can’t be close emotionally without vulnerability. That’s the very definition of a situationship.
7. You Never Discuss the Future
When you’re not in a relationship, you have no interest in discussing plans for your future. The only conversation you take part in involves the present (“What do you want to do?” “Are you hungry”?). The reason is relatively simple: Why talk about the future if you’re not in it for the duration?
A sure sign that you’re in a situationship is if you haven’t discussed the future and what you want out of the relationship. In this kind of relationship, you’re basically just sharing activities and hanging out with each other occasionally. If this sounds like you, move it along because there’s nothing else to see here.
8. They Show You You’re Not the One
If you have any doubts, all you need to do is wake up and open your eyes. If someone is hesitant to tell you that they don’t want a serious relationship, they will probably show you through their actions.
For instance, they’ll stop calling you or act irritated when you’re around. You don’t need to beg someone to be around you. Call it quits and find someone better, which shouldn’t be too hard in this case.
9. They Say They Don’t Want to Be in a Serious Relationship
There’s no reading between the lines here. The simplest way to know you’re in a situationship is if they actually tell you that, uh, you’re in one. They have no interest in trying to fool you into thinking you’re the one, so they tell you straight up that they don’t want to be in a serious relationship.
When they tell you, believe them. Don’t think you will change their mind and live happily ever after. Besides, would you want to be with someone you had to coax into a relationship? The bad news is that you’re not the one. The good news is, hey, at least they were honest about it. No worries. You have plenty of other options you can consider.
10. You’re Bored
You may have been in your relationship for a while, but nothing has changed, nor does it look like it will ever change. Research indicates that doing new activities stimulate the brain’s reward system. This gives off the feel-good chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. This reward system is also located in the same section of the brain that is stimulated during the early stages of a romance.
Most of us understand that to keep a relationship exciting, you must regularly have new experiences with your partner. Unfortunately, in a situationship, you likely do the same activities repeatedly. Do you enjoy Netflixing and Chilling? Well, even that can get boring after a while.
When a relationship is vague, lacks direction, and doesn’t have structure, it gets stale. Eventually, one or both parties will move on, searching for something more stimulating.
11. You’re Always Stressed
Your relationship may be free from expectations, but they’re definitely not stress-free. They always cancel plans at the last minute and don’t care about your feelings. When you’re sick, they are the last person to call to bring you soup because if you’re lucky enough to reach them, they’ll be “too busy” to drop it off.
A situationship has you constantly feeling anxious because of the ambiguity and uncertainty of whether or not they will ever be there for you in the way you’d like.
What to Do if You Find Yourself in a Situationship
So, you figured out that you are definitely in a situationship, but you tell yourself you’re cool with it and that you don’t mind keeping it that way.
But first, determine if that’s really true. Sometimes we lack a good relationship because it’s comfortable, and we don’t want to deal with getting back out there and finding someone new.
Then again, maybe you are OK with the casual relationship, thinking, “I can deal with it if it’s what they need.” But be sure you’re not burying your needs in the dirt because you want to satisfy theirs.
Also, don’t even bother attempting to change them because, more often than not, you can’t and will only be frustrated trying to.
Suppose you are genuinely OK with being in a situationship. In that case, set boundaries. For example, are you going to discuss who you’re sleeping with? Will you be doing weeknights or just weekends? Will they introduce you to their friends, or will you just hang out with each other? Make sure you’re clear and on the same page with your expectations. Leaving any room for interpretation could cause problems.
When you do this, be sure you’re mentally prepared for the answer. While it would be nice for them to return the sentiment, it might not happen.
If they respond with “Work has been hectic” instead of “After the second quarter, we can start going out more,” you must accept that things probably won’t change.
But, on the other hand, be wary because while they may dangle that “we’ll hang out more after the second quarter” carrot in your face to keep you hanging on, they don’t mean it. So, if they ask for more time (when I get that promotion or after I return from traveling), set a timeframe and stick to it.
Either way, go into the situation with clear boundaries of what you will and won’t accept. You should be the one to call the shots.
You may think you’re in a relationship, but after reading this article, you understand that, nope, it’s Situationship City for you. That’s OK because now you know. The ball is in your court, and you must decide whether or not this is something you want to accept or if you’re ready to jump off the situationSHIP.
It’s good to keep your options open. Doing so allows you to decide if you want to move on or keep everything as is. The good news is it’s your choice, so you may want things to remain the same for now. If not, you can get out anytime you feel the relationship is no longer working for you.