Situationships: Would You Even Know If You Were in One?

couple unsure of their status, a possible situationship

A situationship explained.. You’ve got this amazing friend. The two of you have been getting on real well recently. Maybe almost too well. You suddenly realize you get butterflies whenever you think about them. Your friends and family have noticed a dramatic uplift in your demeanor. There’s a spring in your step. This is going places.

…Or at least it would be, but something’s just… not quite right. Is it you? Are you scared of commitment? Or is it them? Do they not feel the same? But then what’s with the flirting? The accidentally-on-purpose brushing of hands? The prolonged eye contact?

The weeks roll by, then the months. Whether it’s in a work context, within your circle of friends, or even just one on one, you guys are spending so much time together. You’re sharing intimate details about your lives, confiding in one another, texting nonstop. Surely this is more than friendship?

Then one night, everything changes. You thought this only happened in movies, but apparently not. The message buzzes through at 1:30 in the morning: Hey, you awake?

You can’t get there fast enough.

And then the next day… radio silence. Nothing. Nada. And then the day after that, another text: Hey, how are you doing? What—they’ve just reverted back to “friends” lingo like nothing happened?

Maybe that’s exactly what they want. Or maybe they want it both ways. Maybe you do too, and you just don’t know it yet. Maybe… you’re in a situationship.

A situationship arises when the relationship between two people remains undefined, even though on paper they seem romantically interested. One or both want to keep things casual, but may also yearn to feel some commitment. It’s a uniquely tricky terrain to charter, because if you don’t have The Conversation then one of you is bound to end up getting hurt. Is this an FBI kind of setup, or do you both actually want to set boundaries, only to be held back by your fear of rejection?

Over the past decade, people have increasingly stepped away from traditional relationship structures, leaving a vacuum into which has flown the situationship. In striving to avoid labels at all costs, many hopeful romantics are finding themselves with the diametrically opposing problem: They now can’t define their relationship at all, and are left in emotional purgatory. It feels like communication has broken down, which in turn can leave feelings unspoken—even when you both really want the same thing.

Sometimes a situationship blossoms into the fully fledged real deal organically, at its own pace. But other times, people in situationships grow tired, anxious, and angry at the perceived lack of commitment they’re receiving. Their longing for something deeper and more meaningful is going unsatisfied. Perhaps the other person is less oriented to commitment, or maybe they want commitment…just not with you.

Either way, it’s useful to know how to identify a situationship. A surprising number of people have grown so used to the dynamic that they don’t see the bigger picture—that things are going nowhere. So what signs can you look out for?

  • The relationship’s parameters are poorly defined—or have never even been defined.
  • The other person seems fundamentally hesitant to commit. Perhaps they’re even reticent at the prospect of meeting your friends and family. PDAs are pretty much nonexistent.
  • The relationship suffers from inconsistency and badly laid plans.
  • The future is never discussed; or if it is, the other person jumps at the chance to change the subject.
  • You guys don’t seem to spend time together for its own sake, but rather just out of boredom or lust.
  • One or both of you are seeing other people.
  • They’re not investing emotion, time, or perhaps even money in the relationship.
  • There’s no progress: When you look back at where the two of you were six months ago, nothing has changed.

The realization that you’re stuck in a situationship can hurt. It can make you worried for the future. But while the circumstances are far from ideal, there are two primary actions you can take to alleviate the uncertainty imbuing the relationship more and more every day:

  1. Bite the bullet—and ask the question: You, they, or both of you may fear rejection, and that’s why the parameters of this dynamic have fallen by the wayside. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. So sit down for an honest conversation, and find out how they really feel. If they’ve also been wanting things to move forward, great!—and if they don’t, well, better to know now then another six months down the line. Even if you’re scared of what their answer will be, knowing for sure is better for you in the long run versus the endless uncertainty—even if, right now, ignorance is bliss. Be firm, and be clear: ‘We need to define this relationship’; ‘I want to commit. If you don’t, I think we need to end this thing.’
  2. Don’t push for something that’s not going to happen: It’s easier said than done—much, much easier. But more often than not, hoping someone will change their mind is futile. Also, why not take them at their word? If you’ve handed them the opportunity to make things official on a silver platter and they’ve turned you down, they probably meant it.

Leaving a situationship can be hard, of course. You might have invested a lot of time and affection into this relationship, and feel like you’ve been taken for a ride. But coming out the other side is better than staying in something that’s slowly eroding your happiness just because it’s easy, or because you fear being alone. And if you need a little extra advice along the way, we can help.

Maclynn International is a boutique, multi-award winning introductions agency with offices in New York, California, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles, and our matchmakers are eminent relationship experts in their own right. So whether you’ve just come out of a situationship or are weighing up your options, get in touch today. Together we can figure out what you really want out of a relationship and set you on the path to meeting someone truly amazing.