Dating Dating & Love Relationships

What is a Situationship And How Do I Get Out of One?

We’ve got a situation over here.

Ambiguous relationships are becoming more and more of a thing, thanks to the rise of social media and dating apps, both of which provide a buffet of options on a silver platter. One term that’s been especially prominent in pop culture recently is the idea of a “situationship.” But what is a situationship, exactly?

If the best way to describe your relationship is “complicated,” you very well might be in a situationship. We laid out the definition, distinctions between other types of casual relationships, warning signs, and an action plan if you decide you want out. Just call us your relationship guru.

What is a Situationship?

A situationship is a phase of dating when the relationship is still undefined. You’re not quite friends with benefits, but he’s also not your boyfriend. It’s more than a fling, but less than a serious relationship.

We know, we know: we’re confusing you more than your last Tinder date. But honestly, that’s what situationships are: they’re confusing.

Neither partner has made a declaration of their intentions, so you’re in a sort of relational limbo. It could be the phase right before you DTR, or it could be destined to stay in casual-land for all eternity.

What is a Situationship - couple on a date

Situationship vs. Friends with Benefits

In a friends with benefits arrangement, you are friends first. Typically, this person is someone who was in your friend group, or who you met through mutual friends. You hook up, but it’s casual. Your emotional/friendship connection is the basis of this type of relationship, and the sex or intimacy comes second.

In a situationship, the opposite is true. The basis of this type of relationship is the intimacy, and the emotions are the “perk.” This isn’t a one night stand, and you likely have even gone on dates together and spent time like a couple would.

But, it’s also not exactly a friendship. A typical situationship might begin after meeting on a dating app or be born out of flirting in a bar. Either way, the sexual chemistry came first, and now the pair of you are exploring if there is an emotional connection beyond the lust.

What is a Situationship - lesbians on a date

Situationship vs. Relationship

So when would someone use the phrase “situationship” to describe their pairing, rather than “relationship“? Here’s where things get really sticky.

Everyone knows what a relationship is: typically it’s two people who are dating each other exclusively. In a situationship, exclusivity is not a foregone conclusion. That conversation hasn’t happened yet.

Think: you met on a dating app three months ago, have been on five or more dates, and now you’re in a purgatory without clarity on where this is going.

A situationship could easily transition into a relationship, and often, it does. Or, it could end with one partner sharing their desire for things to become more serious, and the other expressing that they have different intentions.

What is a Situationship - happy couple

Am I in a Situationship?

Still confused about what constitutes a situationship? Here are some signs and characteristics of this type of relationship. If you relate to two or more of these, you’ve got a situation on your hands.

1. There’s no label.

We live in a world where people both love and hate labels. When it comes to identity, labels can feel restrictive and lacking. But in relationships, they bring about a feeling of safety and security.

If you find yourself stumbling on your words when introducing your…uh…friend?…date?…companion?…to others, you’re probably in a situationship.

2. The future is a big question mark.

We’re not even talking about a five-year-plan, with kids and a white picket fence. With this partner, it’s not even a foregone conclusion that you’ll be invited to their cousin’s wedding next month. That’s how few conversations you’ve had around a future together.

What is a Situationship - frustrated man

3. Communication is inconsistent.

One day, they send you a good morning text, and the next thing you know, it’s been a week since you’ve heard a peep. In a serious relationship, your partner would be communicative on a regular, consistent basis.

4. You feel anxious before seeing them.

And not first-date-jitters or excitement. This is that pit-in-the-stomach type of anxiety. It often comes when you’re putting yourself in situations that you have very little control over, or when you aren’t sure what to expect.

Your thoughts might be racing with questions, like: will they show up on time? After this date, when will I hear from them again? Are they into me?

5. It’s not exclusive…or you aren’t sure.

Maybe you aren’t seeing anyone else, but you have absolutely no confirmation that they aren’t. In fact, you might even know that they are still dating around.

The conversation about seeing other people is a big step in a relationship. If you haven’t gotten there yet – or if you aren’t sure that they ever intend to – you’re still in the casual phase of dating.

What is a Situationship - couple taking selfie

How Do I Get Out?

Alright, so now that we’re clear on what a situationship is, how can you get out of one? You have three options here:

  • You can stay in the situationship and embrace it for what it is.
  • You can have “the talk” and express what you’re looking for moving forward – and be prepared to walk away if they’re not on the same page.
  • You can end things here and now and look for someone less confusing.

First things first, ask yourself how you truly and genuinely feel about this situation. Do you feel good around this person? Do you actually find yourself wanting more? Are you settling just because they’re showing you attention?

If you are cool with casual, proceed as normal, but set aside time to reevaluate your feelings every few weeks in case they’ve changed. And if they have, it might be time to have a conversation.

Looking for something more serious? Speak up! Clearly express what you want, and be prepared to follow through. Maybe they’ve been wanting the same thing, but they were just too afraid to tell you. If, however, this person tells you that they can’t commit to you more seriously, believe them. Hinge is waiting.

Finally, if you’ve tried the talk, and you’ve tried being the “cool girl” and realized it’s just not for you, that’s okay, too. Put your own mental state first, and call it quits as soon as you realize this situationship is doing more harm than good.

Delete them on social media, block their contact if you’re worried about them reaching out, and get back out there when you’re ready. Sometimes, all you need to recover from someone who couldn’t give you everything you deserve is someone who can’t wait to.

By Laura Davis

Laura is the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and blog for post grads, where she writes about friendship, dating, and career with the mission of helping guide twenty-somethings through early adulthood. She has written and edited for a variety of lifestyle publications, including Let's Eat Cake, Popular Science, and Flixed.

When she's not typing away on her laptop, you can find Laura working on her MBA at Boston College, listening to Taylor Swift, or sweating it out at an OrangeTheory class. Follow her on Instagram @LauraKristine21 and LinkedIn.

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