What is a Situationship?
A Situationship is new term being repeated in the relationship and marriage literature and is defined as an uncommitted relationship that is good for the situation of the day. A couple might have gone on a few dates, or even have had a sexual encounter, but the coupling lacks direction and or commitment. This has become common in the online dating scene. Psychologists have described these situationships as satisfying when both people in the coupling are okay with the casual nature of this type of relationship. However, most of the time one person in this duo is starting to connect, has feelings and the other does not. Because this has the potential for rejection and dissatisfaction, one must know the rules of the road before they get hurt, rejected, and crash and burn.
Situational relationships are not harmful if one can see the benefits up front. These types of relationships give one an opportunity for exploration and growth. “I like this, I don’t like this.” It also allows the freedom of prioritizing one’s choices without checking in with one another. It also good for companionship without commitment. A dinner or movie buddy could be labeled as a situationship.
The negative side of this arrangement is this relationship is not consistent or supportive. It is shallow, does not go deep, and lacks clear expectations. If one of the partners opens up, shares deep feelings and demonstrates vulnerability, there might be disappointment and hurt that follows. Trust has not yet been established and values, needs, and wants might be dismissed and disregarded. There is guessing, ambiguity, and uncertainly which adds stress and anxiety to this tenuous relationship choice. Conflict and resentment are common as there are inconsistent views that have not been shared. People in these kinds of arrangements make assumptions about the other person that may not be correct.
The longer this situationship continues, the worse it gets. Many describe that the participants in this coupling are experiencing inertia. This has been described as being stuck, not wanted to leave the relationship and not wanting to stay in it. There is comfort in being together and separating would be a hassle, so they stay put. They have hit milestones like meeting one another’s friends, family or celebrate small anniversaries that usually bond and attach one to another. In this type of relationship joy is diminished and questioning oneself increases.
One of the primary characteristics of a situationship is compartmentalizing. The members of this coupling can also be dating and being intimate with other partners. Since there is no commitment, no boundaries and no expectations, this kind of polyamory is common. Planning in these types of relationships is rare. Most of the encounters with each other are spontaneous and if it works out, it works out. There is little consistency and lots of excuses such as, I am busy with work or am traveling. Being together is not the priority. Convenience trumps everything.
Conversations in a situationship lack talk about the future. Everything is about today. In a situtationshiop, there is little direction and loads of ambiguity. If this kind of relationship works for you, stay with it. If this arrangement is making you heart hurt, speak up, get out, and honor yourself. You are in charge. You are worth not being one of many, but, rather, being the one and only. joneen@my relationshipcenter.org