‘Situationship’ is one of those words that seems to have popped up in recent times…
…the meaning behind it, however, has been around for years.
If you’re not sure what it refers to, read on and we’ll explain everything, including how to cope if you find yourself in one.
So, what is a situationship?
This is a tricky one when it comes to an exact definition, as all relationships and interactions are so personal to those involved.
In general, though, it describes that weird limbo when you’re with someone but not really with them.
…you’re dating and you’re together, you’re just not together-together.
…you might be exclusive, but you’re not putting labels on it.
…there are feelings involved, but they’ve not been discussed.
…you’re not thinking of breaking up, but you’ve also not talked about a future together.
Confused? Us too!
What are the signs of a situationship?
So, from that awkward introduction, how do you actually know when you’re in a situationship?
These are a few signs you should be looking out for…
1. It’s convenient. For them.
Often, situationships favor one person more than the other.
They can be mutually beneficial, but they’re quite often more suitable for one person and, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not that person.
For some people, they offer the intimacies of relationships without the pressure of commitment.
That can be the ideal situation for someone who enjoys being with someone, but doesn’t want to play the field.
They might be happy being with just one person without having to put labels on anything.
2. There are no labels.
This isn’t always a sign of how the two people feel about each other, as there can be strong feelings and intimacy involved despite the seeming lack of commitment.
You might not refer to each other as ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend,’ but it’s implied.
3. Your personal lives aren’t really linked.
This tends to happen in the early days of dating anyway, as it can be hard to judge when you really bring someone into your life.
You still spend time together and enjoy hanging out, you’re just not embedded in the other’s social life.
This doesn’t mean they don’t want to introduce you to their friends or family, it might just mean it’s not the right time yet.
4. You’re at a standstill.
Essentially, you’re not talking about breaking up, but you’re also not discussing the future.
Again, we’re back to that limbo!
The impact of this really varies between people, as some find it really hard to deal with and others are happy taking it day by day.
Again, this isn’t always reflective of how you feel about each other; it’s just how things are.
5. It’s closed, but open.
You’re not seeing other people, but you’re also not really going on actual dates with each other.
It might be that you only see each other at night or when you’re both a bit bored and at a loss for other plans.
This can be convenient for both of you, of course, but it’s a sign that you’re not single, but also not coupled up!
Is it really what you want?
Now that you’ve established that you’re in a situationship, it’s time to work out how you feel about it.
It might be that you’re already aware of the situation, or you might have just had a moment of realization!
It’s important to note that this isn’t automatically negative and isn’t always the end destination of your relationship with someone.
This limbo stage happens in a lot of relationships during the slightly awkward beginning bit.
You need to work out if you’re happy with the way things are or if you want it to progress to something more.
A lot of people are very happy with the kind of casual commitment that situationships can offer.
You get the nice bits (holding hands, cute text messages, and the fun of spending time with someone) without the actual commitment or pressure of being ‘together.’
For some people, this is more than enough and there’s no need or desire for it to be any more.
This is similar to holiday flings – there’s a level of intimacy, but neither of you are putting pressure on it to be anything more.
For others, this stage can be very unfulfilling and can actually be anxiety-inducing.
If you’re hoping that things will progress into a relationship, the waiting period can be really tricky.
You don’t know where you stand, you’re not sure what the boundaries are (can you hold hands in public and how do you introduce them if you run into people you know?!), and you’re left feeling a bit unstable.
You might be wondering why they don’t want to make things official with you, but you’re trying to play it cool and not be ‘that girl/ guy’ who rushes things and puts the pressure on too soon!
If you’re happy with how things are, and you think the other person is as well, carry on.
There’s no shame in having what some people see as an unconventional relationship if you’re both enjoying it.
BUT… if you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable, you need to talk about it.
Yes, you might want to appear casual and nonchalant, but if it’s eating you up and you can’t enjoy things properly, you need to have an open conversation.
Try not to get too emotional when you bring this up – it’s not bad to have feelings, but it can be quite intense, especially if the other person isn’t expecting the conversation to happen in the first place!
Keep reading for some tips on taking things to the next level, and what to do if you realize there is no next level…
How to go from situationship to relationship.
Deciding that you want more from the person you’re with can be exciting, but can also be pretty scary if you’re not sure how they feel.
Be open and honest in your communication, but don’t go overboard!
There are ways to talk about what you want without sounding like you’re proposing a marriage and joint mortgage.
You can start by talking about how you feel.
For all you know, they could be feeling the same way and might just be too shy to mention it in case they get rejected.
Be the brave one and tell them that you’re enjoying spending time with them and that you’re not interested in dating anyone else right now.
See how they respond and keep going if it feels positive so far.
You could say that you’d like to visit a gallery or go to your favorite brunch spot next time you see them – this is a low maintenance, casual way to spend time with them in the daytime.
If you want to, mention that a group of friends are grabbing drinks at the weekend if they fancy joining.
This is you letting them know that you want them to be more involved in your life without directly putting the pressure on.
Depending on how things are going, you can start making bigger plans for times in the near future.
Don’t start planning six months ahead, but make it clear that you seem them as a pretty solid fixture in your life and that you picture them still being important to you in a few weeks’ time.
Again, this isn’t commitment, as such, but it does show interest.
All of this will lead to you spending more together in more intimate settings.
Remember that intimacy isn’t just kissing and holding hands – it’s often simply being involved in each other’s lives and respecting someone’s presence.
You can show that you care in small ways along the way (dropping them a message when you know they’ve had a big meeting or something exciting has happened) and they’re likely to start doing the same back.
The more that you’re involved in each other’s lives, the more they’ll start to realize that it’s either meant to be something more or that they want to take a step back.
If they’re not feeling it, here’s what you do to make things easier on yourself…
When to walk away.
Knowing when to call it a day is so hard in many aspects of our lives, from ending toxic friendships to quitting jobs that make us miserable.
Getting out of a relationship, or situationship, that isn’t fulfilling you is no different.
If you’ve taken the above steps and they start to pull away, don’t force it.
You shouldn’t have to push or trick someone into wanting to be with you!
Even if it does work, it’ll only make you feel insecure if you stay with them and continue in the situationship…
…you might feel like they resent you for trying to make more of what you have, or you might feel uncomfortable being intimate with them as you feel a bit rejected.
Either way, it’s time to walk away and leave things alone.
They may change their mind when they’ve had some breathing space, but, for now, it’s a sign that you need to move on!
Don’t actively wait for them and put things on hold on the off-chance they’ll change your mind, but end things on a friendly note so that you can be civil in case you see each other around.
If you want more of a commitment and they’re not into it, it’s a sign that they’re not right for you.
It can be really hard to accept that someone you like doesn’t want the same thing as you, but it isn’t the end of the world.
You can still look back on it fondly and see it as a lesson.
Sure, it might take a bit of crying and a lot of conversations with your friends, but you’ll get to the stage where you can see space for personal growth.
At the end of the day, you refused to settle for something that you knew wasn’t working for you and you should be proud of yourself for that.
One of the saddest things is when people accept less than what they want (and deserve), and that decision is always fuelled by fear – fear of being rejected or fear of being alone.
Either way, by asking for what you want and walking away when it’s not right, you’re being incredibly brave and you’re putting yourself first – and that is the kind of love we think is the best.
Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.