An Important Announcement from Garbo

The Situationship: A New Relationship Trend

May 23, 2022
Emily Hamburger

There are many different types of relationships, but in the 21st century, the existence of dating apps and endless options have created a new dating trend that is a label, but isn’t a label: the situationship.

Many people fall into a situationship, where one partner may become invested, where they have developed romantic feelings and an emotional connection, while the other partner continues to indulge in their freedom, by seeing other people and not committing to any relationship.

Situationships can be the label that two partners put on their relationship, but it can also be a trap for one partner to drag along another partner because of things like convenience and sex.

Because a situationship can drag on for months - wasting the time of a partner who wants to be in a relationship - it is important to understand and recognize the signs of a situationship.

Many people who are a part of situationships may feel that the relationship they have with their partner is directionless – but still hold on to hope that their situationship will eventually blossom into a committed, serious, and healthy relationship. But recognizing the different signs of a situationship can help save you from heartbreak and investing your time in someone that is not ready to be in a committed relationship.

In dating relationships, learning to trust what your partner does and says, and regarding it as truth is the easiest way to come to terms with where your relationship stands.

Sometimes the signs of a situationship are implicit, but they can be explicit as well – and it is important to come to terms with these signs in the early stages of your relationship to keep your heart, head, and mental health safe.

What is a Situationship?

Situationships are relationships that have no clear intentions or end goals between partners, and this usually starts with the lack of defining the relationship.

Defining the relationship is a key part to establishing a middle ground between you and your partner: it allows partners to enforce boundaries: physically, emotionally, and sexually. It also allows partners to share their goals of the relationship – whether that is a week, month or a year down the line.

Situationships can be a temporary label for the relationship – especially if you haven’t been seeing each other long and just started spending time together.

However...situationships don’t always occur months down the line. In fact, a situationship may be established after only a few dates.

Whatever way you find yourself into a situationship— it is likely that one person in the partnership is ready to commit while the other partner is not ready to define the relationship status and may be exploring relationships with other people.

Situationships have a lack of commitment and an undefined romantic relationship. They also tend to occur for many reasons, including:

  • Dating options are endless, especially due to dating apps.
  • The other person could have commitment issues.
  • They may like you but not see a long term future with you.
  • They aren’t looking for anything serious.

Situationship vs Friends with Benefits

Friends with benefits situations can be very similar to a situationship. But in a friends with benefits situation, those involved check-in with each other before the relationship starts.

  • Partners may agree that no feelings are involved, only physical intimacy.
  • They may decide it isn’t a romantic relationship and there is no commitment.
  • There is a defining of the relationship as friends with benefits: it’s just a hookup and there are no-strings attached.

But when it comes to situationships . . .

  • Boundaries of the relationship may not be discussed at all.
  • Romance is a part of the relationship, which can include physical and emotional intimacy. But, even with romance, the relationship is still undefined.
  • There is a lack of commitment, even though partners may be going on dates and doing “couple-y” things.

Situationship vs Relationship

The difference between a relationship and a situationship is that a relationship has a clear, defined label that both partners agree to.

  • Relationships will have boundaries set, and both partners are aware of these boundaries and expectations.
  • Relationships will include consistency between partners, whether that is through date nights, texting, or partners showing up for each other.
  • Relationships will gradually become more serious over time, while a situationship could stay as casual dating for its entire run.
  • Relationships will not stay surface level – this is only short term. The connection at the beginning may feel this way, but as time goes on, this connection will grow bigger and stronger, and will lead to deeper conversations and attachments.
  • But in a situationship, this surface level feeling never fades. The connection may feel stagnant, and you may not progress to deeper, more intimate topics.
  • A partner in a situationship compared to a relationship may want to be in this person’s life due to convenience, especially if they aren’t planning date nights, and the relationship heavily relies on sex.

How to Know if You're in a Situationship

There are many telltale signs that you may be in a situationship, and one of the obvious indications is that the relationship that exists between you and your partner is stagnant: it doesn’t change.

  • No relationship milestones are being met, such as meeting each other’s friends or family, or most importantly, defining the relationship.
  • Your partner may not be conceptualized in your life – meaning that they are not a part of any of your other relationships (friendships and family).
  • Your partner may also be having sexual or romantic relationships with other people outside of the relationship.
  • You may even find out that your partner is having these other intimate relationships through social media or friends, which shows a lack of communication between you and your partner, which can lead to a toxic relationship.

You may also be in a situationship if your partner tends to make last minute plans or make last minute cancellations on the regular, especially if they tend to use the same excuses – such as being busy at work or having other commitments like the gym.

  • A partner may be using you as a “plan B” and refuses to make compromises to see you.
  • If a partner doesn’t plan dates or events ahead, and sporadically invites you, then you may be in a situationship.
  • This lack of consistency may also affect the communication between you and your partner. If your partner doesn’t text, call, or see you consistently, and you’re not sure when you’re going to hear from them next, then you may be in a situationship.

You and your partner may be more comfortable with “dirty talk” rather than having deep, understanding conversations.

  • Situationships will lack conversations about who you are, your expectations, and anything else important you want to share with your partner. Situationships can be open sexually, but not emotionally.
  • You may also become bored, because plans become repetitive, like “Netflix and Chill.”
  • Situationships may also cause anxiety, because of the lack of communication, uncertainty, and ambiguity of the relationship.
  • This uncertainty can also be a partner being very hot and cold with you – one second they want to commit and make the relationship work, and another minute they are not interested in the relationship at all.

The longer your relationship lacks a title, the easier it is for the relationship to become a situationship.

  • The longer it takes for a partner to commit to you, the more it shows the lack of investment they have in the relationship.
  • If your partner avoids the DTR talk, then you are in a situationship, and this shows where you stand.
  • A partner may show their lack of commitment through their actions, but they may also tell you explicitly that they don’t want anything serious.

Situationship Red Flags

Some situationship red flags include

  • Your partner does not want to meet your friends or family, and they don’t want you to meet theirs.
  • Your partner completely avoids the DTR conversation.
  • You find out through friends or social media (or even in person!) that your partner is having romantic and sexual relationships with others.
  • You feel like you’re a booty call: there are last minute plans, it seems like your relationship is based on convenience and sex, and it seems like your relationship is completely directionless.
  • Your partner explicitly tells you that they don’t want a serious relationship.

What to do if You've Found Yourself in a Situationship

If you’re looking for a relationship, but have found yourself in a situationship, you may want to take a deeper look at how you’re feeling. Situationships can lead to disappointment, feelings of dissatisfaction, and not feeling secure. If you want a relationship and aren’t getting that from the other person, you may want to find someone who will commit to you and build the foundations of a healthy relationship.

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