Welcome to the world of relationships in 2021: we can’t just be “single” or “in a relationship” like the good-old Facebook days, nowadays we are friends with benefits, booty calls, f*ck buddies, and the thing we’ve gathered here today to discuss: situational relationships, a.k.a. “situationships.”
Basically, according to, a situationships is a “relationship that has no label on it[,] like a friendship but more than a friendship but not quite a relationship.” It’s a relationship that involves feelings and expectations but not the full range implicit in a traditional romantic relationship – if you know what we mean.
Situationships are a little more than fuckbuddies, but a little less—in terms of demands—than boyfriend/girlfriend relationships or same-sex equivalents. “Situationships are fairly new and I think hookup culture is part of it,” says Marianne Dainton, PhD, a professor specialising interpersonal communication. “Both terms, situationships and hookups, have an ambiguity that is useful to a social media-hooked generation that is obsessed with image. By publicly having a boyfriend or girlfriend, a person creates a set of expectations they can fail at. A breakup is seen as a loss of social status (for the dumped) or a personal failing (for both). However, if one is not in a relationship, but a “situationship,”there is no stature at risk — because those terms have no universal meaning or endgame.”
So think you’re in one? Then read on.
Am I in a situationship?
People in a situationship don’t proudly boast that they’re in a situationship, the term is label-less label, but that’s the entire point of it. “You may be in a situationship if you haven’t defined the relationship, you’re not sure if they’re still on the apps or seeing other people, and you don’t talk about the future,” explains Logan Ury, Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science.
It’s almost like there’s an agreement that you’re somewhat dating, or at least “seeing” each other, but by not having that “What are we?” talk, both members in the couple are able to not feel pressure. Additionally, those in a situationship can keep seeing and having sex with others.
“It starts when an individual doesn’t want to bring [a designation to their relationship] up, because they don’t want to put pressure on the relationship,” adds couples counselor Raffi Bilek. But “it’s human nature to want something more defined. These relationships without a label are not good for the long term. I think people will do this for weeks or months.” At some point, “people will ask: What are we doing?”
Still not too sure if you’re in one? If you agree with most of these statements, you most certainly are:
1. You still haven’t defined the relationship
2. You don’t talk about the future
3. You don’t know each other’s friends
4. You’re not exclusive
5. You have feelings for this person, but it doesn’t feel like love
6. You’re basically single during important events
7. But you still sleep over each other’s place
8. You don’t “date” each other
9. You’re dating someone who says they don’t want commitment
10. You have great chemistry
The whole purpose of a situationship is to avoid the pressure of a relationship, so some of them will run their course without any disappointment. However others, where maybe one or both of the people involved actually want something else, conflict with a slow-brewing need for clarity.
“The best way to avoid a situationship is to be upfront from the beginning about what you’re looking for. You don’t want to be six months into dating someone only to find out you’re not on the same page,” explains Logan.
“Make sure it’s a setting where you can have an honest conversation and no one is an altered state,” adds Dainton. Also avoid bringing up the “what are we?” talk before or after sex and don’t compound it into another argument.
“Honesty is the best policy, and most people are not averse to hearing, “I really like you,” even if there is some difficult “talking” to come afterwards. Tell them, ‘This is a good partnership for me’ and make sure to ask them how they feel.”
“If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, your situationship is probably a poor candidate for an upgrade. If you are confused or the other person is clearly putting it off, you should question if the whole arrangement is right for you.”
How do I get out of a situationship?
According to Logan, these are the steps you should take if you’re just not feeling it.
1. Check in with yourself to see what you want. Are you looking for something more serious? If not, perhaps this situationship is working for you right now. If yes, move on to the next step.
2. Attempt to DTR (Define The Relationship). When asked what made the relationship hard to define, the most common answer, from 56% of users, was “I didn’t know what they wanted from the relationship.” It’s critical to check in to make sure you’re on the same page about where you are and where you’re headed. You can try something like “Hey, we’ve been seeing each other for a while, and I’ve caught feelings. I’m looking to be in a relationship, which for me means we’re exclusive and we think this is headed somewhere. How are you feeling about things?”
3. No matter what the person tells you they’re looking for, believe them! You may hear the answer you want, or they may tell you they’re just looking for something fun for now. If you don’t get the results you want, don’t try to change their mind.
4. Decide if you want to stick around. If you want something more serious than they do, it’s time to find that with a new person. Don’t waste time trying to change this person’s mind.”
“A great strategy for getting out of a situationship is not getting into one in the first place! But if you find yourself in “not quite dating” moment, follow these steps: