- Are you and your partner currently not officially together, but definitely more than just friends with benefits?
- Do you hang out pretty often, but you’ve never even met their mates?
- If this is the case – it’s possible you’ve wound up in a dreaded situationship
What is a situationship?
A situationship is essentially a romantic relationship which hasn’t been defined. Speaking to Cosmopolitan UK, dating coach James Preece says: “a situationship is when two people have been on a few dates but are yet to define what’s going on.”
He continues: “This usually happens for two reasons; they’re either still hedging their bets and taking time to get to know each other, or they’re nervous about making their feelings known for fear of rejection.”
You might also wind up in a situationship if one of you is afraid of commitment. Because with a situationship, there’s no guarantee that it’ll progress into a relationship. It’s always possible that things will just fizzle out if one of you gets cold feet when it comes to defining things.
Sound familiar? Here are some more signs and symptoms of a situationship.
How to tell if you’re in a situationship
There’s no consistency
Situationships are defined by their lack of consistency. You might see your ‘partner’ every day one week, but then not at all the following week. In most relationships, you’ll naturally fall into a pattern where you see your partner a couple of times a week, but with a situationship, there’s no rhythm at all.
“One major appeal of a legit relationship is that you can count on seeing and talking to your person regularly,” says Anna Medaris Miller, writing for Women’s Health. “Situationships lack that.”
While there are benefits to playing everything by ear, it’s hard to plan things far in advance without knowing when you’ll next see your partner. Have you ever bailed on your own plans or kept your evenings free on the off chance your partner asks to come round – only for them to never text? It’s possible you’re in situationship territory if so.
You never talk about the future
In fact, you never really talk about… anything
Another sign of a doomed situationship is if you don’t really know what you talk about when you are together.
In a healthy relationship, you should be willing to be emotionally vulnerable with each other and speak about your feelings and insecurities. You should also be able to talk about your interests, ambitions, political views, hobbies… literally anything.
In a situationship, you might find yourself stuck with perpetually making small talk. While it’s pretty standard in any kind of relationship to ask questions like “what have you been up to?” and “what are you doing this weekend?”, if this is literally all you talk about, that’s not a good sign.
If this is sounding familiar, it’s possible that your connection with the other person is more physical than emotional, which is perhaps why both of you are reluctant to label yourselves as ‘in a relationship’.
While this is totally fine, if you do want a fully-fledged relationship with your situationship partner, it’s worth considering if you would truly have a strong partnership long-term if you’re struggling to connect emotionally.
You feel anxious about where things are going
The first few weeks of dating someone can often be kind of exciting given how uncertain everything is. Many people love the ‘thrill of the chase’ and the anticipation that precedes actually defining the relationship.
But if you’re finding that your excitement is beginning to lapse into anxiety, that’s not a good sign. There’s no hard and fast rule about how long you should wait before having the DTR chat, but trust your gut. If it seems like you’re in limbo and the whole situation doesn’t feel fun anymore, that’s a clear sign you’re in a situationship.
What to do about it
So, you’re in a situationship. What do you do about it?
Firstly, it’s important to note that situationships aren’t bad by default. If it’s working for you and your partner, there’s no real need to rock the boat.
Speaking to Restless Network, sexual health educator Angelica Lindsey-Ali says: “I think what we have seen from past generations is a lot of women – our grandmothers, our mothers, our aunts – being saddled with the emotional labor, [and] sometimes the financial and intellectual labor of keeping a relationship viable. The modern-day woman is not willing to have that loss of benefit in exchange for just being with a partner.”
If you’re happy to have some emotional and physical comfort from one person while retaining a lot of your other freedoms, there’s no reason why you can’t progress without labelling the relationship. That said, it is important that you both have a conversation about this to make sure you’re 100% on the same page. A situationship can only work if both parties are happy with keeping things the way they are.
But if you’re in a situationship that you’d love to see converted into a relationship one day in the not-so-distant future, you need to take action. Start a dialogue with your partner as soon as possible. Speaking to Cosmopolitan UK, therapist Heidi McBain suggests: “Be brave and transparent and initiate the dreaded relationship talk about where you currently are and where you would like to be, as far as an exclusive relationship with that person.”
Author and CEO Jenna Birch continues: “Start going on legitimate dates, and making real moves toward a relationship. Get out of the house. Invite them to a concert or an event. Have them meet your friends. See what actions are reciprocated.”
It’s clear that you need to do something if you want your situationship to progress into a relationship. Granted, it is terrifying to consider what’ll happen if things go wrong, and your partner admits that they aren’t looking for a relationship right now. But, equally, just imagine how good it’ll be if things go well.