Figuring out your relationship status can be confusing. Here’s how to clarify.
- Notice the signs early.
- Be honest about your feelings and ask for what you want.
- Communicate openly, not passively.Do you find yourself confused about the relationship you share with someone you’ve been seeing or hooking up with for a while? Do you keep in touch but only sporadically? Do you feel enveloped in uncertainty about your future together? If yes, you are most likely in a “situationship.”A situationship is an undefined or non-committal relationship—almost resembling a regular romantic relationship, but not quite. Typically, one partner in a situationship is content with the arrangement while the other hopes it will turn into something more.
Repeatedly engaging in situationships may hamper your self-growth. It may also pedestalize the other person. Some research suggests that more established, committed relationships, such as marriage, are associated with greater benefits than less committed relationships. Other research has found that engaging in casual sex can elevate one’s risk for negative psychological outcomes.
Here, I’ll talk about three ways to recognize a situationship and find your way out of it.
#1. Notice the signs early
While there is no standard definition of a situationship, here are a few of its tell-tale signs:
- You are confused about “what you are.” It may feel too early for you and your partner to have the “what are we?” conversation. In essence, you are uncomfortable putting a label on your relationship, setting expectations, and outlining boundaries. There may be fear of commitment. This lack of clarity can lead to confusion and stress, especially if you want to take things forward with the other person.
- Plans are mostly last-minute and short-term. Meetups in situationships are sporadic. You and your partner may make spur-of-the-moment plans which last only for a few hours.
- The emotional connection feels shallow. Situationships are often based on a superficial connection despite the physical intimacy. There aren’t many talks about topics that are deep and meaningful and you don’t rely on each other for emotional support.
- The relationship is not exclusive. You and your partner may not have discussed seeing each other exclusively and may have hinted at a busy dating life with euphemisms like, “I’m not ready to settle down,” or, “I’m keeping my options open.”
- There is no future on the horizon. People in situationships don’t make long-term plans and they may not see a future together. You may find yourself wondering what it is that you really want from them.
#2. Be honest about your feelings and ask for what you want
It is important that you communicate your expectations for the relationship early and often with your partner. If you are interested in developing the situationship into a serious relationship, you need to have the talk. Stating your needs and asking for what you want will give you clarity on where the other person stands. You may not always like the answer, but at least you’ll know.
If, after you talk it out, you realize that you misread the other person’s feelings or intentions, use it as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself questions like:
- Did the other person show signs that they weren’t interested from the beginning?
- Did I avoid expressing how I really felt?
- Was the situationship really worth it?
Reflecting and learning from your situationship is one of the best ways to move on.
# 3. Communicate openly, not passively
Alternatively, if it is you who does not want something more than a casual relationship, then taking a passive approach may be harmful.
Spending time together without making your intentions and expectations clear can create the illusion that you want something more long-term. Communicate your needs, boundaries, and expectations from the beginning to prevent hurt feelings in the future.
A situationship is a casual relationship. If that is what you are looking for, then go for it. If you are looking for a committed relationship, communicate that need with your partner. If, at any point, you feel like your situationship is jeopardizing your mental health, consult with a therapist who is professionally trained to assist you in such situations.